In my previous visit to STEIM in 2010, I was just beginning my research into haptic interface design for the performance of live electronic music, and moreover, how this technology might influence the musical outcomes of a composition or improvisation. This has taken me in two directions. The first explores haptic interfaces (such as the Novint Falcon, discussed in the previous post) as a means of enhancing potential for expressiveness and articulation in live electronics. Writing on this is forthcoming, and a performance of work exploring this idea can be seen here.
The second approach has used vibrotactile feedback as a method for firstly receiving cues and other instructions from the laptop, and secondly, as a means of communicating with another performer, within an improvisational setting. The first method is described in detail here, and is demonstrated below in a performance of Kontroll, for prepared piano, self-playing snare and live electronics. As well as sending signals, vibrotactile feedback is used to provide a more embodied experience for the performer, creating the feedback loop that is often broken/missing in systems of digital music (see papers above for more details).
The second method was a joint project with Christos Michalakos, and is described in detail here, with a video of our NIME 2011 performance below.
I met with Marije Baalman at STEIM, with a view to developing the vibrotactile system in a wireless format, both to assist my own performances, as well as to work with larger ensembles. We quickly implemented a prototype using Marije’s Sense/Stage technology, which was relatively easy to set up (with Marije’s help on the Python bits), and seemed immediately very stable. Marije also improved the circuit that I’d been using for the vibration motors, and mocked up a final model that would be small enough to be worn around the arm (or leg) without restricting movement, and would also be light enough not to hinder performance. I’m looking forward to working with this over the next few months, as the wireless system will enable me to explore relationships between more performers/instruments.
I would like to thank Kristina Andersen for invaluable artistic discussion and musings. Lots of food for thought concerning where my work fits in contextually, and some of the implications that pushing it in certain directions might have musically. With good reason, many people associate STEIM with sensors and technology, but it’s reassuring that the other part, which is just as important, if not more-so, is still so strongly supported. Gratitude also to Joel, Taku & Jon for further conversation, and to Andy for the fantastic meal!!
I will update once I start working with the finished design.