learning the ropes

things I made at ITP and after: sketches, prototypes, and other documentation

Monday, April 2, 2007

Final Project Proposal – A Series of Tops

Greg Stringer and I will create a series of musical tops which act as an improvised toy orchestra. Each top in the series creates a distinct and pleasing musical sound. As multiple tops spin simultaneously, their musical sounds will combine into a larger homogeneous sound. The sound of several tops spinning together will be unique and fleeting; it will be difficult to spin the same tops in exactly the same order at identical velocities.

I’m interested in systems which enable musical improvisation among people who have the desire to create music but lack the technical competence on a musical instrument. The musical tops present a low barrier to music creation; they are found in many cultures and require little skill to operate.

Spinning tops transform from one shape into another. No matter the starting shape of a top, once it rotates it forms the shape of a circle. In recycling, a similar process occurs. The designed shape of an object, after its operating lifecycle is complete, is transformed back into raw material and then back into a new designed object. The rotation of our tops will refer to this process.

The tops will be constructed from salvaged parts to highlight the theme of reuse and the cycle of products from raw material to designed object and back to raw material.

Several types of tops will be created to provide desired musical properties: percussive and melodic sounds.

posted by Michael at 9:08 pm  

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Final Project Progress

Shlomit and I made some progress on our audio art final. We decided to build a sonic field of springs.

Strategies for sensing movement:

  • Flex sensor
  • Magnetic pickup (like electric guitar)
  • 2-axis potentiometer (joystick)

Maxed Out-5
After brainstorming more about producing sound and sensing movement, we built a tiny prototype, using the technique I discovered while building a prototype for Designing for Constraints.

Springs-4 Springs-3


posted by Michael at 8:55 pm  

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Maxed Out

I’m working on a personal art project for my final in Designing for Constraints. The following is my first prototype. I feel pulled in many directions simultaneously — with ITP pulling the hardest. The inner sphere represents me. The springs tug at me in all directions.

Maxed Out-14

I developed this prototype from a simple sketch:

Maxed Out-0

I built the prototype out of materials I already had in my studio:

Maxed Out-1
CD jewel case covers
Maxed Out-5
Old guitar strings and 24 gauge wire spun into springs
Maxed Out-4

Maxed Out-7
26 gauge wire wrapped around a still central armature

Maxed Out-10

Class feedback:
- Walls of the piece could deform under pressure.
- Piece seems performative — it may require my performance of the object to get its point across. A video might help with this.
- Stretch the box to its limits and videotape it as it breaks

posted by Michael at 12:22 am  

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