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'Transjuicer' art installation uses bones as speakers

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In her installation Transjuicer, artist Boo Chapple uses the piezoelectric properties of bones to turn them into speakers.


Have you ever wanted to listen to "Old MacDonald" on a cow's femur? If so, then do we ever have a treat for you: artist Boo Chapple's Transjuicer art installation turns bones into speakers. The project works because bone is a piezoelectric material, or one that gets charged with electricity when pushed out of shape and vice versa. The piezoelectric properties of bone have been known for decades, and are thought to aid healing, but amplifying the vibrations to an audible state proved difficult. After trying several other methods to detect the music she was pushing through the bone, Chapple finally placed a stethoscope near it, producing a sound loud enough to be heard by the human ear. In the finished exhibit, visitors were invited to use headphones to listen to songs piped through the bones.

Bones aren't exactly the easiest material to work with, so don't expect this to have commercial applications. Instead, Chapple's exhibit was based around the idea of "making strange," or deconstructing common objects to let them be experienced in new ways. By removing the bones from their organic context, she says, she is paradoxically able to demonstrate how deeply connected they are with their natural environment. The installation showed in 2010 and early 2011 at the Australian John Curtin Gallery and the Science Gallery in Dublin. For more information about the project, watch the video below or check out this article on the subject.