The Rice-Pile Model: Spill 2021

About This Project

This work attempts to raise the awareness of the emerging issue of anti-microbial resistance, with the creation of a kinetic sound installation. The material used in this work included pills collected from the public over a period of a year. Information regarding how to appropriately dispose of the anti-biotics and other environment-endangering drugs were also disseminated along with the adverts, so that the realization of this work helps also to educate the public about the health and safety concerns as well as the correct way for drug disposal.


The real-world is a complex system formed by a network of interconnected entities. Such a system exhibits very unique dynamics where the concept of criticality or “the tipping point” is very important and relevant to us. The work is based on the physics model “Rice-Pile Model” for studying complex critical phenomena such as avalanches, rainfalls, as well as the spread of diseases and stock market crash. It is a reminder that miniature changes can trigger a drastic event (like a landslide) at a much larger system scale.


We translate the miniature motion of sliding pills into loud trembling sounds on-the-fly with the help of motion capture and advanced sound technologies including granular synthesis. The kinetic sound installation oscillates the senses of the viewers between the microscopic and the macroscopic world. While the audience are captivated in the “live experiment” in front of them, the work also prompts them to think about the underlying mechanisms for the issues the humanity faces today.


Artistic Director: Ivan Liu

Program Design: Daniel Boubet, Wei-Tze Tseng

Sound Design: Daniel Boubet

Mechanical Design: Alvin Chen

Special Thanks: Diemo Schwarz