Stretch is an interactive art installation which invites participants to interrupt and manipulate a stretch of time through hand gestures. It distorts sound and movement, mainly through granular synthesis, ultimately creating a frenzied yet stimulating interactive experience.
Participants wear gloves and play with an unfolding cube to control the screen projection and sound in the space. The wooden cube is the main point of interaction and guides the participants’ gestures. The setup includes a base with a pressure sensor to detect if the cube is lifted off the base and in use; this starts up the sound and visuals. Each glove has a gyroscope attached to capture the gestures made. Additional data from the right hand is input into MuBu, a machine learning system, in order to detect when participants shake the cube. The left hand also has a bending sensor to measure grip.
The screen projection is made out of several familiar head actions such as a rotating stretch (typically used for exercise warm-ups) and nodding. The head movements correspond to and act as feedback to the gestures and sound. The visuals were inspired by Modell 5 by art duo Granular Synthesis, as well as the warped portraits of Francis Bacon. I found the face and head to be a suitable subject as we are immediately drawn to it and it catches our gaze.
However, on hindsight, I would have built a physical setup consisting of objects such as pendulums and weights, and filmed clips of it instead of the face. Although the face has its advantages and recording footage of it is much easier as it does not require extra time to build, I do feel that it possibly adds another layer of narrative. This may divert the participants’ attention away from the motions and sounds, to the identity or purpose of the person.
Part II explains the technical elements behind the work:
Screenshots of Max patch:
Documentation for pan n’ tilt prototype. This setup allows the participant to control the movement and dispersal of sound in the room using the gyroscope. Each of the four corners of the gyroscope correspond to each of the four speakers in the room. The effect is immediate; for example, tilting the top right corner of the gyroscope downwards will increase the volume of the ‘front-right’ speaker (position when the participant faces the screen projection).
The accompanying graphics on the screen are a visual representation of the sound dispersal. The free-flowing polygon has 4 corners which correspond to the 4 speakers in each corner of the room. Tilting the gyroscope in one corner will alter the shape of the polygon and stretch it furthest in the same direction of the speaker. Conversely, keeping the gyroscope leveled will produce equal volume in all 4 speakers and the polygon will become a rectangle shape.
3D graphics and a more balanced sound increment (using the table object) could be applied for the next iteration of this prototype to enhance the experience.
Documentation for electronic musical instrument prototype. Created using max 7 and Teabox sensors. The Alternative Rainstick is a dual sound musical instrument which marries elements of a traditional rainstick and monophonic keyboard. It produces 2 different types of sounds, a base rain noise and an octave of notes. The pitch and type of sound can be easily controlled for both.
This rainstick uses the umbrella’s affordances in combination with 4 different sensors, namely the gyroscope, bending sensor, pressure sensor and slider.
The gyroscope controls the pitch of the rain sounds and is paired together with a swinging motion. The degree the umbrella is tilted corresponds to pitch i.e. tilting the umbrella downwards will produce a low pitch. The volume of the rain is controlled by the bending sensor and how open the umbrella is. A fully opened umbrella would produce a dense rain sound at full volume. Similarly, closing the umbrella will create softer rain sounds.
The umbrella’s ‘open’ button, attached with a pressure sensor acts as the universal ‘key’. Note sounds are only produced when the button is pressed. It functions similar to a piano key: the note is sustained by keeping the key pressed and stops when it is released. The variation between and forte and piano can be achieved by simply pressing the button lighter or harder. The slider controls the pitch and has a one octave range.
Documentation for Stationery Radio using Max 7, teabox and assorted sensors. An interactive stationery holder that allows easy control over your sound system while keeping desk supplies organised.
This player incorporates basic desk stationery and 4 different sensors into the interface. The eraser acts as a switch to start and stop the radio by playing with the light sensor. A ruler is used to changes between tracks. It triggers the bending sensor when it’s pushed into the ruler slot. The slider determines the duration and end point of each track. Volume is controlled using the infrared distance sensor and pencil holder slots. The 4 slots correspond to 4 increasing volume levels. Uses mainly buffer~ to control audio. A very engaging first project;
I typically like using traditional media to create art but being in IM has allowed me to stretch my skills and control of media. Learning programming, max and all these other really new and fresh fields is no different from drawing or painting. All are mediums used to create art equally but add so much more to my appreciation and application of these individual mediums. Applying the logical to painting and vice versa makes art way more flexible and feels like I get to dip my fingers in many different pots of honey.
Video documentation of ‘I am…’ exercise made in Max.
It replaces the viewer’s face with a young Potter’s face using image overlay and facial recognition.
Tracking exercise made using max. Box friend follows your movements.