2020/22 Artist Residency: The Polygon Ensemble – Synthesizer Instrument Designing

Artists in Residence/

Sebastien Saint-Jean

Ess Mattisson

Project Summary

The Polygonal Ensemble is a set of five audio synthesizer instruments that has the capability to react to each other and to be performed collectively by five performers. The idea is to play around the usual relationships between a performer and its instrument, as well as a performer within an ensemble. By allowing the instruments to interact and transform each others’ sound and timbre, those usually fixed conditions are becoming malleable. The set of the five instruments become an instrument itself.

The design of the instrument utilizes various technologies including Teensy, Touch Plates, Daisy, Max/gen~ and Analog Circuits. The accessibility of the instrument is the key; the touch plate PCB keyboard maximizes the performative functionality of the instrument, while battery operation and bluetooth speakers will also be equipped for portability.

Development Timeline

Experiment / Prototyping 1st Phase _ July 2021 – December 2021

Experiment / Prototyping 2nd Phase _ December 2021 – April 2022

Production of the full set (5 machines) _ May 2022 – June 2022


Sebastien Saint-Jean is a french architect, university professor and synthesizer designer based in Hong Kong.

Ess Mattisson is an artist and designer based in Berlin, originally from Gothenburg, Sweden. A long obsession with music, sound and synthesizers led to playing a major role in the development of Digitakt, Digitone and Model:Cycles music machines for the legendary manufacturer Elektron. Since then Ess has been focusing on Fors; a project together with artist and educator Felisha Ledesma, creating software audio instruments and bespoke synthesizer algorithms.

Full Presentation