Vibration sensor + Slider actuator + Cotton material + Happy adjective
This project is about turning vibrations to sound. It will aim to explore a different way of listening; a way in which you can feel the melody through your hands.
For this project, I took inspiration from the time I was a dancer, in the ensemble of Kol Demama dance group (literal Hebrew translation – sound and silence), which ensemble deaf and hearing dancers. The basis of the merger was a “vibrational” system, in which the deaf dancers take their choreographic cues from beat patterns felt through their feet, or gestural signals sensed through bodily contact, as well as from visual sources.
In my project, I wanted to mimic that experience and let my audience ‘hear’ a melody created from a combination of vibration beats, through their hands, while holding a cotton ball. The vibration beats, similar to music notes, hold different parameters setting for voltage and duration, which allow me to compose them into a rhythm, a melody, that the audience gets to ‘listen’ to through their hands.
There are a few ways you can experience this installation. You can cover the cotton ball with your hands. You can hold it next to your ear, to use the ‘original’ sense of hearing. I leave the listening experience open for the audience to choose. I believe listening to music is a personal experience, and everyone can choose to experience it at a different level of intimacy.
During the design process, I needed to take into consideration some parameters:
1. The cotton ball should not be too tight so that the vibration motor could vibrate inside the ball. It should also not be too dense so that the vibration could go through the ball.
2. The design should allow the audience feel the vibrations using their hands and it should be at eye level.
3. The environment should be ‘clean’ from distractions so that the audience can focus on the vibrations as much as possible.
4. The wires and the connections should be strong enough so that if people pull and play with the ball, all the wires stay connected.
5. I covered the vibration sensor cables with hot glue to protect it. During the testing process, I realized how sensitive it is and how quickly it can be damaged.
Based on this I decided to create a minimalistic design and let the cotton ball be the center of the design. I decided to hang the cotton ball, hoping the due to the vibrations people will notice small movements and get closer to it.
I started this project using a Mind Mapping techniques which allows me to expand my ideas, related to each property I could use for this assignment by using a free-association of ideas.
Following that process, I took some time to think about my options and use my imagination to think of them as a whole. I find sketching technique to be beneficial to me with creating a quick draft of my ideas. Whenever I had an idea popping into my head, I created a sketch without overthinking of its feasibility and or if it contains all of my properties.
Focusing on vibrations as the main property, I spent time reading about vibrations, what does it mean, how it works, etc. I also draw inspiration from my own experience as a dancer with the idea of using vibrations as music.
My online research leads me to several artists using vibrations at their work. The one who caught my attention was Alessandro Perini who use vibrations in some of his work. His work Wooden Waves using the same principle of allowing people to experience vibration through their body.
It was time to take things from theory to practice. After setting the basic input-output board, I played with vibration. Trying to hold it, placing it on/in/bellow different cotton surfaces, etc. and test the various effect each of the settings has. (+the effect it has on my dog. No harm caused 🙂 ).
Lola is helping to test the vibration motor
I also start with looking online for code that allows me to turn the vibration into a melody. I came across this project Vibration Foam speakers which drift me a bit from my original idea. At this point, I thought of changing my original design and create a cotton cover part (to replace the foam) and play a happy melody. I did some testing but find out that for some reason the code is not working right. I tried using some help from my friend, with no luck. I reached to a dead end :/
Left: original foam speaker. Right: cotton copy I made. I tried different cotton density.
After my meeting with Kate, she opens my mind to a new option – use beat sequences, to help demonstrate the idea, instead of a full melody. From here, my primary work was to test different voltage and duration parameters and try to compose them into a short tune. We also spoke about creating three range for the slider based on various range values allow the audience experience three different melodies.
Evolution of a code. From left to right: first input-output setup, Melody, Vibe beats.
In the process, I managed to create three short beat sequences and tested their effect through the cotton ball. At this stage I had two issues raising. First, I realized that some of the lower voltages are not passing through the cotton ball. I played with it a bit to fine tune the ranges. Second, I experience some troubles with the delay of the response time of the slider. In my second meeting with Nick and Kate, Nick explained that the reason for that is that the loop goes all the way before it goes back and to read the slider parameters, and since that on each tune I have a relatively long delay time (average of 5 seconds) the respond time of the slider is not in sync with the actual change of the melody. He also suggested two ways that might improve the problem, but they won’t solve it completely.
I managed to reduce the delay time by offering 2 sequences, instead of 3, and shortens the sequences.
- Alessandro Perini, Wooden Waves – His artistic production ranges from instrumental and electronic music to audiovisual and light-based works, net-art, land-art and vibration-based works. At his work Wooden Waves he uses tactile sound installation that uses a wooden floor as a vibrating surface and lets people feel the movement of sound vibrations along their bodies, when lying on the floor.
- Vibration Foam speakers – very cool project + code I used at my first draft of the code.
- http://www.princetronics.com/supermariothemesong/ – code for super mario tune
- https://www.arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/PlayMelody – trying to understand the logic of melody code