20 Windmill-Powered Music Boxes


Commissioned by KIKK Festival, 2017

A cluster of windmills is installed above the heads of the pedestrians on a public square in Namur, Belgium. Once the wind blows, each propeller powers a little music box that plays “Für Elise”. Since all music boxes are driven asynchronously, the single notes and chords of Beethoven's iconic music piece are constantly re-arranged. The result is a wind powered sound installation which scrambles the original and permanently produces new compositions based on one of the world's most well known melodies.

The construction files of the windmills are published under an open license. Everyone with access to a 3D printer and basic tools is invited to build an own version of the installation, or to invent a new machine based on this design.

You can find the building instructions here and below are some images of the installation.

The installation was placed directly in front of the Galerie du Beffroi.
It was opposing the Belfry of Namur, which not only caused some interesting wind turbulences, but which also added to the soundscape when the bells in the tower were ringing every hour.
The wind turbines were out of reach for the audience, but it was easy to hear them even from further away.
A single windmill in close-up. You can also see the scaffolding construction material that we used to build the support structure. This was standard stuff, but we used it in an unconventional way.

Special thanks

I want to thank KIKK Festival for commissioning this installation, KIKK's excellent technical director Christoph van Hove for coordinating the setup of the scaffolding and all the helpers for building that massive structure!

Additional resources