Before the final-9

Final Major Project

The Following Reading is a requirement of the BA Degree in photography that I am doing in a module Called “Final Major Project”.

See the learning outcome below for the requirements.

Learning Outcomes Assessed in this assignment

1. Sustain in depth Final Major Project work within the student’s chosen specialism

2. Develop research into visual imagery with aesthetic judgement

3. Practice image capture, workflow and output techniques to a professional standard

4. Plan, design, build and construct a professional exhibition as a member of a team

5.Present photography in a professionally constructed exhibition

Christos Baimpakis
BA (Hons) Photography
Artist Biography

My name is Christos Baimpakis, my artforms are Photography and Music. A student of life, a lover of all things strange and different that enclose or express truth.

Ever since I was a child I was intrigued by the complexity of shapes, materials and the underlying meaning of images as well as the relation of these with people. Perhaps this helped develop my admiration and fascination for Geometry and Maths.

Growing up I always felt the urge to push myself to try and escape boundaries, whether they were social or personal. Through this I was able to experience amazing things and meet people that influence me massively, as far as my perspective of life is concerned.

Eventually music found me, rather than the other way round, and when I started discovering more and realising what it actually means to be touched by it, my life changed from within its roots. I strongly believe that my esoteric exploration through learning about music, how it works and what its effect is on the body and soul, shaped my personality, affecting deeply the way I explain and look at the world and also helped me meet, perform with and understand so many extraordinary people, more than I could ever have imagined.

Next step was to fly the nest and come to the UK. Here, I found a second home in Manchester, one of the most musical, artistic and truthful places in this wonderful country. Here is where my passion for the image, shapes and meaning was re-ignited. Equipped with being able to understand and express the world within me and around me through the medium of music, I was now able to translate this into pictures and transpose the musical values and principles to ones of imagery, colour and texture.

Having delved into the world of Photography and having studied its history and application, my ambition and ongoing project is to study in depth and portray in any way possible the relation between sounds and images, the common expression between images, moving or still, and Music and finally, potentially combine the two in ways that I have never imagined before. I hope as many people as possible will glimpse into my work and contribute their emotions and perspective

Is Sound Visible?

Understandings of sound have grown in recent years, to the point that the way we experience it has been called into question. This piece will take a metaphysical look at the way in which sound has become recognised as more than an audible quality. It will explore the myth of sound as invisible and contemplate the ways in which sound is more than its traditional definition through analysis of existing studies and extrapolation of thought which will inform future understandings.

The definition of sound

According to the Cambridge dictionary, sound has four meanings. These are:

  • something that you can hear or that can be heard
  • the activity of recording and broadcasting sound, such as from a performance of music or for a film
  • the volume or quality of the sound of a television or film
  • the particular quality of the music that a musician or a group of musicians produce.

In other words, the sound is an audible unit that can be distinguished by several factors including volume, tone and style. It is both a scientific measure and a mode of creativity.

Sound is used for communication both in terms of needs and self-expression. However, it is said that what a person says accounts for 7% of human communication and studies such as Mehrabian find that tone accounts for 38% of understanding. This shows that pitches and frequencies are hugely important to understanding sound. This research has been scrutinised with the surprising result that this figure was actually undervalued . This argument hinges on the idea that sound is only audible which is simply not true.

In scientific terminology sound is “a mechanical disturbance from a state of equilibrium that propagates through an elastic material medium” and is a wave. The emission of electrons is a photoelectric effect which can be photographed, similarly to sound and the electrical charge attached to this.

The visibility of sound and acoustic levitation

Sound cannot be seen by the naked eye which leads many to believe that it is invisible. However, this is not the case. It is possible to see sound through acoustic levitation. This is the use of the sound wave vibrations to trap microscopic objects in mid air which can be photographed. They can also be recorded on an oscilloscope which is a direct representation of the fluxuation of sound – an image created by sound. Pure sounds such as a singular tone are known as sine waves. These are turned to electric signals and presented on the screen. The ability to perceive it is clear. High notes produced by singular sine waves have a high frequency and the waves are very close together, as opposed to low notes. These have low frequency and the waves are spread out more. They are shown by the arch of the image.
As sound is a wave it has a close correlation to light, which has recently been photographed. As it behaves as both a particle and a wave it is closely linked.

What is synesthesia and how does it pertain to seeing sound?

Synesthesia is a figure of speech consisting of translated meanings. It uses linguistic mixing to create something more than the initially perceived value. The meanings gained by synethesia are attributed to a perceived sensory impression which are typical to other sensations. For this reason, we can perceive sound by tactile or emotional elements such as soft or melancholy. Bragança et al adds to this, finding that “a piece of music (sound event) could be considered sweet (sense of taste), rough (tactile) or brilliant (visual)” and as such is ingrained on the human experience in ways which are translated beyond audible ones.
Additionally, Bragança discussed the use of written terms in musical writing. Although not directly related to sound they do indicate how sound should be measured. Once again, these come in the form of emotional adjectives such as presto, adagio and vivace. This adds a layer to the discussion of music synthesia.
It was discovered that “Resorting to other sensations is necessary to discuss sound/music, suggesting that music perception is only achieved through interaction with other sensory fields”. This suggests that sound reaches beyond the ear.
Yet the importance of this in terms of sound being “invisible” is more metaphysical than anything else. It discusses the very meaning of what it is to hear. It has long been taught that there are five senses, yet the range has been argued about for centuries. These five are limitations as they do not account for other senses, things like temperature and unease. Bragança concluded that “perception is only achieved through interaction with other sensory fields” and this proves that seeing is not the only measure of existing. When defined as “unable to be seen” the definition of invisible seems like one that fits sound, yet not in this regard. To see is to experience and as Bragança has so eloquently proven, this does not happen with one sense alone.
Furthermore, Safran and Sanda say that synthesia has “prompted philosophical debates on the nature of perception, consciousness and even talent and creativity.” Although this statement was made in regards to art it is highly applicable to music, especially when considering the effect sound has on human beings.
Safran and Sanda discussed this in terms of neurologic disorders or following psychotropic drug use. This allows people to see sound as colours in various, natural ways. Once again, questioning perception.

Sound and the human experience in terms of healing

It could be argued that to truly be seen, sound must be measurable by empirical measures rather than perception-based ones. For this reason, this section will discuss the science and pseudoscience surrounding sound and the human experience.
The first area to address is meditation. Often this practice has been linked to improvements in mood, yet it is also closely associated with sound and sound healing. Phillips conducted a comparative study of meditation as a breathing exercise as opposed to meditation which was accompanied by digeridoo music. After simple meditation both groups reported significantly increased relaxation after meditation which correlates with previous research. The inclusion of a didgeridoo had an increased, positive impact according to participants. The results are indicative of the positive correlation as Philips notes “Fifty-three percent of silent participants and 80% of didgeridoo participants agreed that they would attend that type of meditation again.” This data can be applied to all sound therapies, thus showing the effect of sound on the body.
To expand upon this in more empirical terms, due to the potential arguments against qualitative data cited previous and the possible influence of placebo effects, it is important to find a study with supporting scientifically viable data. Trivedi recorded the heart rate (indicative of calmness) of subjects during meditation and meditation alongside the sound therapy of himalayan singing bowls (HSB). The results found that “further analysis confirmed a more consistent relaxation, as measured by a statistically significant reduction in stress index and an increase in HRV, for HSB group” , meaning that sound renders results on the body.
The kind of sound also has an impact with this differential coming from frequency alteration. Studies by Naghdi reveal the extend of sound on the body, finding that in terms of fibromyalgia low frequency sound reduced the need for medication “in 73.68% of patients and completely discontinued in 26.32%” as well as an increase in cervical “muscle range of motion increased from 25% to 75%”. These results were found in sessions which “involved 23 min of LFSS at 40 Hz, delivered using transducers in a supine position” on a sample size of 19 female volunteers, thereby eradicating gender differentials, and was concluded after 10 sessions.
All of these studies reveal that there are methods of sound application on the body and as such proves that sound is more physical than traditional understandings show.

Frequencies used in sound healing both with or without incorporation of additional techniques

  • UT – 396 Hz – the key of G. This is a low frequency which is believed to relieve guilt, fear and trauma of many kinds. It is recognised in clearing trauma from sexual abuse in particular. The effects of using this particular frequency releases from the body in a surge of stronger emotion, usually crying or laughing or other massive reaction. It is also used to repair energy issues regarding sexuality
  • RE – 417 Hz – the key of G sharp. This frequency is a creativity booster according to studies. It allows the listener to let go of dogmatic stress and embrace their creative side which has been impinged by hegemonic values. In physical terms it is a muscle relaxant and has been associated with fixing lethargy and removing (or preventing) low energy blocks in the spiritual being. This, like other frequencies is still considered pseudoscience.
  • MI – 528 Hz – the key of C. This is known as the frequency of the heart, and therefore love. It brings about transformation by restructuring the DNA back to its perfect state, aka a more organic frequency. It is very good for anxiety, pain relief, depression, weight loss, and cognitive rewiring.
  • FA – 639 Hz – this is the key of E flat. E flat is one of the sounds that is regarded as deep and profound. The use of E flat in meditation or spiritual healing is linked to vulnerability, getting to the deepest facets of the soul and allowing for healthy relationships and inner connectivity.
  • SOL – 741 Hz – in musical term this is the key of F sharp. This frequency is linked to the sense of empowerment and is concerned with speaking the inner truth. It is said to cleanse the body cells of toxins and electromagnetic radiation throughout. This frequency is helpful for generating ideas, clear speaking, creative thinking, and increasing self-confidence and is thereby more focused on the physical and mental recovery than other frequencies according to spiritual practices.
  • LA – 852 Hz – 852 Hz is the key of A. The A key works with the spiritual self. It is influential on dreams, deity connections and astral projection according to most practitioners. The main focus is clarity.
  • SI – 963 Hz – this is the key of B. As well as replicating the benefits associated with the A key, this frequency establishes ethereal connections in the listener.
  • 174 Hz – This is the key of F. It is the lowest tone of the Solfeggio scale (a 6-point healing scale) and is considered a type of energy-based anaesthesia. It is fairly new and is most potent in reducing pain. It  removes blockages in the energy channels which might make coping with pain easier. It is a  frequency that makes people feel secure thanks to its slow and soothing qualities.
  • 285 Hz – the key of D. At just one level up from the lowest frequency, 285 Hz targets the energy field around the body something called the aura in an easily palatable and smooth way. This is a good frequency for chakra alignment because it works with energy fields and the frequency of choice for energy healers

Cymatics and the use of the Chladni plate

Cymatics is the study of sound and vibration made visible. It is usually done on the surface of a plate, diaphragm or membrane (such as the ear drum) but can be done on other resistant, flexible materials such as percussion instruments or stretched and taught covers. The concept of a cymatic originated in ancient African culture when tribes used the taught skin of a drum to sprinkle grains (of rice, corn or other such small items) as a gift to the Gods and Goddesses during their rituals, music of course being a key component of shamanistic practice throughout the world.
Cymatics are something that could be considered a photograph of sound. This is because it works by exciting the inorganic matter or liquid under the movement of the sound wave. This makes the effects visible. Many deem this as the essence of sound, meaning that sound is visible. Technically, this would be the transition of wave energy on a visual media and is a technique which can be shown through the use of a Chladni plate.
A Chladni plate is an ancient concept which has been identified in principle by the likes of Galileo Galiei and Da Vinci. Its name was made official by Ernst Chladni who used a sand-strewn brass plate to do the same experiment as his predecessors. This being the application of sound on a surface.

Photography and sound

Understanding how sound moves allows for the capture of it. Fischer continued the work of Franz Max Osswald where Oswald observed “shadows of moving air in the sound photographs” in making sound maps, otherwise known as architectural reasoning. The recreation of the experiment, comparison of original prints and evidence of mass of sound “challenges our understanding of physics and the environment. Sound no longer appears ineffable but is transcribed in graphic representation”. To create a shadow in the first place there must be an opaque substance to block it, meaning that sound is a substance, whether our current level of microscopic photography can see it directly or not.

Sound as a mathematical and creative beauty

In life all things come down to mathematics and the same can be said for sound. Pythagoras discovered a key to harmonic ratios; this is now known as Pythagorean tetractys or the pyramid of dots. In this 1, 2, 3, 4 system the proportions reveal the intervals of the octave, the diapente, and the diatessaron and reflect naturally occurring patterns. This fundamental frequency and harmonics come together, blending sound and mathematics.
Universal frequency is measured at 783 Hz which is the resonance that the Earth itself vibrates at. Many studies have concluded that by turning color into its matching sound frequency, the musical vibrations of the 783 Hz universal frequency translate exactly to the colors of the chakra points used in many holistic therapies. This balances the two worlds

The Project

The main idea for this project came after a discussion with my tutor Martyn Pearson, when he asked me if I believe there is a way to photograph sound. Having been a musician for many years, in fact my two biggest passions are music and photography, I couldn’t resist the challenge to at least try to combine the two to see if that could be possible indeed. 

It all begun back in September 2019 while I was extensively researching the topic, when I discovered a video of someone experimenting with vibrations. Up to that point I couldn’t find any straightforward way to capture the image of sound through any widely available, single established technological means. That video gave me an alternative way of thinking. As scientifically proven sound is vibration, although it is debatable if the vibrations are the actual sound or the impact of it. Also, sound relies on air as in its absence there is silence. So, what if instead of capturing sound itself, I tried capturing the impact of it on different surfaces, materials or even human emotion?  

Let’s have a look at how this project started. 


In September I started a thorough research on the following:

  • What is the sound and how does it travel?
  • How many frequencies exist?
  • Which are the frequencies for the music notes?
  • What is the relationship between physics and mathematics?
  • What is the relationship between frequencies and light?
  • How is music used in healing?
  • Which frequencies are used in meditation?
  • What is the relationship between sound, frequencies and chakras?
  • How can sound be combined with photography?
  • Can sound be photographed? Has anyone attempted anything like that before and if so, what methods have been used?


In October,  I started using different methods and looking at the results.

Initially, I created vibrations on metal, wood, plastic and other different materials while pointing a laser light on each surface to see what would happen. I was quite impressed by how the vibrations were affecting the surfaces which became apparent trough the effect of the laser light. Even though, the pinpoint from the light was moving, I still couldn’t get the results I wanted.

I decided I had to create a DIY set up where I put a bluetooth speaker in a bowl, stretched a balloon over it and placed a small piece of a mirror in the middle where the laser would be pointing at. Using a signal generator, I played a single frequency through the speaker.
That produced a very interesting reflection on the wall ,as the laser light started creating shapes.

Then I thought what would happen if I sent two or different frequencies at the same time? Well, the results were really impressive.

At a later stage, I tried introducing water to the project. I sent the laser light through a wine glass filled with water and then different liquids with different consistency. I had some good results but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. So, I went back to the previous stage where I started experimenting more, in order to understand how vibration works by trying  to improve the way the patterns were showing on the background.

You can find all the information about that stage of the project by clicking on the link from the previous semester below:


By December I was almost at the last stage of the project where I would be submitting my final images. However, I thought I should extend the work to the second semester for the final major project module as it presented endless potential worthy of exploring.

I started researching again to see what other methods could be used in order to communicate a more substantial message to the viewer.  I discovered alternative methods, some of which were mentioned not only in my dissertation but in the special  project too.
The most significant findings were through using cymatics and chladni plates as well as a link to meditation which I’ve always been very interested in. I hoped that using them too would enable me to create a more complete project both visually satisfying but also with a deeper meaning that would perhaps also benefit like minded people to research further. 

That helped shape my overall aim of combining music and photography  with a link to meditation.


After submitting the final images on the first semester for the special project I couldn’t wait to start the next module, as I wanted to discover new things and felt  there wasn’t enough  time before the final deadline.

So, straight away I started the second part of the project (The Art Of Sound Through The Lens) by using all the information that I had found through my research in December.

The bad news was that I couldn’t use all of the equipment I had used in the first semester except some of it;  which is why I bought a pair of two bigger speakers, as a wider frequency range was needed to create the results I wanted and few other items which we will see later in this post.
I created a set up that could use a 300 RMS watts speaker. I placed different plates on top of it such as metal, aluminium, mirror, glass, wood with water on it to see what effect it would have while the speaker was playing different frequencies.

From what we can see in the picture below the results are quite impressive but again not what I was looking for.

At the same time however, I felt  I was at the right path to achieve better results.


In February I continued the research using bigger speakers (500 watts) as I though that would resolve the problem of me still not being able to get the patterns I wanted.

At that point, using the plastic plate, the patterns started to become clearer but I was still missing something.

I replaced the plastic plate with a metal one and also added a smaller metal lid in the middle of the bigger plate.

Looking at the pictures below we can see the patterns are indeed more clear.

I also tried adding some paint on a black bin bag and I placed it on top of the speaker so the vibration could show an explosion of colour. I got some interesting results through this method even though the images weren’t close to what I wanted to portray.


After loads of practice the previous months, by March it was time to try and get closer to the results I had in mind and I focused on experimenting further with colour to see how that would affect my previous patterns.

Below are a few examples of this method.

As my main interest was to use the frequencies from the seven chakras, the next step was to apply them to my methods so rather than just hear them, I could also visualise them. 

Let me point out that the best patterns I found appear when using lower frequencies due to the bass creating wider vibrations. Also interestingly, frequencies lower than 20Hz (average audible human range) that cannot be heard, yet their effect can be seen, which made me wonder what else can affect us that we cannot necessarily see or hear.

Below are some more examples experimenting with colour.

For this set up I used an online generator on my computer to send a signal through the sound interface to an amplifier where the speaker was connected.

Below are some photographs of that setup taken with my mobile phone.


In April it was time to use the chladni plates.

I’ve always been fascinated by patterns and shapes so when I discovered the chladni plates I desperately wanted to find out how it works and practice to achieve the same results seen on the internet.

I discovered the way it works is simply by passing frequencies through a speaker and depending on the frequency we use, different shapes can be created. However similar to Cymatics, it does matter what the material and the shape of the plate used is.

One major difference is that with cymatics the lower frequencies have a bigger impact in creating sharper patterns, whereas the chladni plates have a bigger range and even higher frequencies can create nicer shapes.

The main set up for this method is a vibration generator with a shaft in the middle, on top of which we can attach a plate. It is very important that the hole for the shaft is exactly in the middle, otherwise it will not work as it should. The vibration generator technically is a small speaker which we can connect to an amplifier and pass some frequencies to. The main difference with a speaker is the way that it is built. The speaker has a cone that vibrates without anything attached to it so the sound can travel in air. The vibration generator has a shaft which is attached to the cone of the speaker in order to transfer the vibrations in a more effective way.
When the frequency enters the speaker the vibration goes through the shaft and because of the plate attached to it, the vibrations automatically transfer to the plate as well.

Also, in terms of creating the correct patterns it is very important what we sprinkle on top of the plate. Anything that sticks onto it, such as flour, doesn’t work as well. Instead we need something that can bounce on the plate while it vibrates, such as sand or salt.

Unfortunately, as I didn’t have these items I had to buy them in order to practice and let me tell you, they don’t come cheap.
In addition, with the cymatics method I was using an online signal generator which was connected to my sound interface on my computer but as it wasn’t very precise I had to buy a more precise hardware signal generator that could produce a wider range of frequencies from microhertz to Megahertz.

Below are some examples of this method.

Below are some photographs of that setup taken on my mobile phone.

To better understand exactly how vibration works I bought an extra three different length metal sticks attachment.

What we can see in the video below is that every single metal stick moves differently due to the different lengths.


May was the time to finalise my project.

I spent the whole month trying to decide which photos to pick and what else I could do to make the project as visually pleasing as possible while still communicating the message I wanted to the viewer.

Below is a first draft of the images I was planning to use for the exhibition.

To achieve the desired results I spent many hours experimenting with different set ups and produced over 2500 pictures for this project.

What I found the most difficult thing through this process was that there are no standard settings for the camera. It all depends on the amplitude of a specific frequency; the bigger the amplitude the faster the movement of the liquid which also defers depending on the consistency of the liquid.

For example, if we pass a 36 Hz frequency through water it will move faster than passing the same frequency through oil as the movement will be slower due to the oil’s thicker consistency.
Therefore even if in both of the examples above we used 1/50 shutter speed in settings, it would produce a completely different image.

As a result, to understand exactly how it works I had to go through all frequencies and experiment with different camera settings, especially with the shutter speed. I went from 10-second exposure up to 1/500 sec to create the final results. What I found worked better were the settings between 1/5 up to 1/50 a second.

It was a very long journey which taught me many technical things but also gave me food for thought. Could any of this be applied in everyday life in a way that would help us develop ourselves even further?

Most importantly,

“Perhaps we shouldn’t take anything for granted because what we don’t see or hear doesn’t mean it is not there..”colour cymatics cotton

Eventually, I managed to find the specific chakra frequencies and apply them in the best possible way to the above methods so we could also visualise them.

As every chakra has its own colour with a specific meaning and a specific purpose in healing, the final images correspond to this so we can get the whole picture at a glance.

The main reason that I chose to use the cymatics pictures over the chladni plate ones is that in cymatics I was dealing with liquids, mainly water. As the human body consists of 65% water, the cymatics method in my opinion seemed a better medium to understand the impact of the vibrations on humans. 

Below we can see the final images which will be exhibited along with a video that I made using a similar method.

Just click on the link to be transferred to the actual exhibition where the final work is presented.


Sound is a wave that also has a physical presence. It can affect the body as demonstrated in both quantitative and qualitative studies. The frequency of sound alters how the sound influences the body. There are multiple frequencies which can be used to illicit these effects, each one using a specific hertz resonance to deal with issues.
Additionally, sound can be photographed, as can its effects. There are several methods of observing and capturing this such as the movement on Chladni plates and the levitation of particles based on the kinetic energy of the wave or by imaging of the shadows made by the wave.
Overall, there is more to sound than meets the eye. Although some further research is needed developments have been made in understanding the elements of sound. This has been a long process and is likely to continue. The early concepts have proved to be correct in many cases and can be explored with advancing technology, as seen in the progress between tribal ritual drums and the creation of cymatic studies through Chladni plates.

Artist Statement

Christos Baimpakis

BA (Hons) Photography 2020

“The Art of Sound Through the Lens”

Is sound invisible?
Well, the profound answer would be “Yes”. But what if it can be photographed?

I am Christos Baimpakis, a photographer and musician. I am a strong advocate of the idea that both photography and music are complementary to each other but when blended they provide a complete story. Therefore, I have attempted to demonstrate the picture of sound.

As per Dr. Braid SC (2014), sound is vibration and as such can be seen through capturing its vibration. In this project, I have made the experiment of capturing specific sound frequencies by using different equipment and material.

Influenced by both science and art, I have chosen to photograph the sound of mediation. It has been proven, that there are several frequencies associated with meditation and each one resonates with its own chakra. This exhibition is the fingerprint of all seven chakras and the picture of those into the human body. Despite the fact that visualising sound is limited in terms of sound’s ability to express the human cognition of sound, I have tried an alternative approach to achieve that. Having tested various materials I discovered a methodology that could help me fulfil the aim of this project; water. Taking as fact that the human body consists of 65% water, I have decided to choose water as the means by which I will present the end result: “What would the pictures of meditation sounds in the human body look like?”

As a musician, I have been inspired from various legendary names in the music industry and I have studied their music further. Analysing the use and role of the visual on their final concepts. The band Pink Floyd have intrigued me the most and I was inspired for this project after revisiting their album “Meddle”. The picture of the album cover depicts an underwater ear representing “the musical nature of events “. On the surface, ripples created from drops of water that create circular patterns representing the vibrations of sound. My photography eyes viewed this picture differently this time and made me want to capture the effects of sound.

Starting my research, I came across Bjork’s Biophilia project which mainly attempts to demonstrate how nature relates to music and humanity. Aiming to bring that into the photography world I decided to portray the musical effects on humans.

Previous attempts by others that I could relate to my studies fascinated me even more. Research led me to the work of Hans Jenny (1904-1972), a Swiss follower of the philosophical school known as anthroposophy who first coined the theory of Cymatics. Jenny, after repeating Chladni’s experiments, claimed the existence of a subtle power based on the normal, symmetrical images made by sound waves. More Recently, Evan Grant, a creative technologist, experimented with sound visualisation (based on Chladni’s theory) introduced the idea that there is data in everything we see and interact with and that Cymatics is the first step in accessing that data.

Having created a DIY set up, my experiments commenced by taking each chakra frequency through a process of creating interaction with other sources of organic and non-organic substances. Following the Cymatics theory and having my camera as the main producer my images mirror the symmetries and accuracy of mathematics found throughout the beauty of sound in the format of unique patterns.

References and Bibliography

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