LED Sculptures Are The Future of Live EDM

[THEME MUSIC] Here in San
Francisco, technology has a presence
almost everywhere. The same people who are
making startup companies, developing apps, and
creating the next big thing also use their talents
for art projects. Sugar Cubes is a
3D visual structure DJs activate with their music. Using complex mapping
software, they control addressable LEDs to
enhance audience experience. I recently caught up
with Alex, the creator, on San Francisco
between my travels. When we’ve done some
shows, people’s minds have just been blown by what
they perceive to be the music. And one time my brother
and I just DJ’d. We didn’t even have internet. We had 100 songs off Spotify. No mixer. We just put tracks on,
and we used the cubes. And people are still
asking who those DJs were. And it’s like it’s
not– they’re getting the dopamine from the
experience, you know. But they’re not
getting it from what they think they’re getting. So there’s really four things
happening here– the music, you have the actual lights, you
have the software, the computer aspect, and then
you have the board. Yeah. They’re kind of like
all the components? Yeah. Yeah, I think– And then there’s you. Electron music producers–
they’re writing this music, but then they’re triggering
their loops live. And it’s kind of a little
different every time. You know, and maybe the
kind of a true artist, like your Four Tet or
somebody, is really doing a lot live
and kind of doing this version of
electronics jazz. And that’s where I want
to take this, where if you’re skilled and confident,
you can kind of come up with whole concepts
live and build them up. And then you get this thing
that– you know, it’s gone, you know? It’s not necessarily saved,
but every time’s different, and that’s kind of the magic. In order to create
this, there was a couple fundamental
problems we had to solve. We had to make a 3D
model of the structure, and then we had
to figure out how to get data from our 3D
model into the structure. Our 3D model lives right
here, as you can see. OK, so the computer sends
all the information out from the model to this
router, which is just like what you would see
in your home sending internet data around. From the router, it gets split
out to– depending on how big the structure we build–
three to five, what we call, panda boards. This is something we actually
had an event, unfortunately, because all the LED controllers
that we could find when we first built this
didn’t have enough RAM to drive this many LEDs. So if you see this, it looks all
hacky, and it’s because it is. So from the panda boards,
we have this connector, which is four wires, because
that’s how many wires our LEDs have. And then it comes
out from the board, and then it goes right in
here into an LED strip. [MUSIC PLAYING] What do think of
the Sugar Cubes? How do they make you feel? Do they have an impact on you? Is it emotional? Or are you just fascinated
by the technology? Let us know in the comments,
and click Subscribe to see the next big
thing– “In The Making.” [THEME MUSIC]


  • eTheBlack

    I don't know I see 2D image (video) thus cant really give you my opinion.

  • IFLScience

    Science at work!

  • Arie Arie

    Awesome effect.

  • Harvey Lightowler

    You can make a simpler version of this with one LED by hooking it up to the wires powering a speaker

  • Sam Williams


  • Victor Frost

    I'd actually like to know more about creation process of the sugar cubes. How were they built? Can instructions be posted up for people to make smaller versions of their own, if we wanted?

  • portersmokedporter

    Just fascinated by the technology 

  • xaniphir1

    Very cool. When did a DJ become live music?

  • brett sullivan

    I love this show

  • Thomas Northen

    I'd love to sit inside and "see" a few favorite songs.

  • Pamela Frame

    I like the direction this is going. They are close to being able to "play" these lights. The possibilities are endless.

  • james Co

    Way cool project!! The immersion aspect is brain numbing awesome!!!

  • Nick Lippens

    is that guy stoned all the time ?

  • Alex !

    The Sugar Cubes makes my mind dance & relax at the same time I FEEL THE LOVE

  • Luke Souza

    Doc North looks seriously stoned in many episodes!

  • Alexander Green

    Thanks for all the support everyone!   If you'd like to keep up on what we're up to and where this technology is going, follow us on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sugarcubessculpture  

  • SilverSlayer23

    I'd 100% would want to use this for a live performance 🙂

  • Tucker Monticelli

    I feel like he was still on something during the interview..

  • Judge Dredd

    Shutup towlie…

  • Håvard Modalen


  • Daniel Wilson

    Wow, this is really excellent work. Thanks for this, Alex.

  • Christopher Michael Spain

    that cubes make me feelz yeah, baby

  • Blake Johnson

    These are awesome! I got a preview from some other source a while back, but I like the detail you went to in your video – well done.
    What was your impression seeing them in person? Do you think the scale of the display is integral to the experience, or could a similar emotional response be elicited from a smaller shape with more densely packed leds accomplishing similar motion and colors?

  • Distant Dimensions

    All this is, is audio reactive RGB LEDs attatched to a metallic frame… Not impressive.

  • Marcus Willis Albertsen

    Put the power supply, LED controller and router inside a box and make connectors for everything. Works well.


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