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Sound Portrait Machine (2016)

Designed and built as an interactive sound art experience at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC for Sound Scene X, Sound Scene was staged by DC Listening Lounge.

Project Description

While viewing a color reproduction of one of three works of art from the Hirshhorn collection, a user plays a custom-built console filled with buttons that, when pressed, produce sounds that generate an improvised “sound portrait” of the work or art. This sound portrait could be an expression of the user’s sense of what the artwork might be “saying” to the world, the user’s own impressions of and/or feelings about the work, or any other motive they choose.

Each user’s performance was recorded and made available for download as an MP3 file if they shared their email address.


Users selected from  three Hirshhorn collection objects as a reference/inspiration for their sound portraits. They were selected for their variety of form and materials.


Rachel Harrison 

Pretty Discreet  (06.17)

Jackson Pollock

Number 3, 1949: Tiger  (72.235)

David Smith 

Voltri XV  (66.4643)


  • Audio trigger shield

  • Electronic components

  • Arcade buttons

  • Wood

  • ZOOM HD-5 recorder

  • Roland Sound Cube

photos by Neal Johnson, © Amy Rankin, © Susan Gravatt, © Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

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