Final Project – Bryn
The initial concept that inspired this project was to create a set of objects that react to touch. The objects would subvert the expectations of anyone to touch them by emitting sound rather than staying silent. Through experimentation with different object and different methods of display, the concept formalized into a display of three different plates hung within a picture frame. This method would allow a user a reasonable freedom of touch while allowing relatively easy transportation and concealment of the underlying technology. The final setup looks as follows:
The underlying technologies include Touch and Activate, Max MSP, and machine learning.The mechanism for the touch activation is called “Touch and Activate,” and it involves two piezo microphones and a transducer. One microphone emits a sine sweep in the 20,000+ hz range, outside of audible hearing, while the other picks up the sweep. When a person touches the object, some of the frequencies in the sweep are dampened depending on how and where the object is touched. In the photograph below, the green piezo is picking up the sine sweep, and the white piezo is emitting it. The transducer (in the center) allows the object itself to make noise by acting as a speaker.
In order to make the system more sensitive, the emitting (white) piezo was routed through an amplifier. This jacks up the signal, making the dampening more obvious. The amp was homemade:
Using an FFT, machine learning algorithms can analyze the frequencies that are missing, and determine, based on control data, how the object is being touched. The FFT and machine learning algorithms have been implemented in Max MSP by Ali Momeni, allowing the machine learning data to easily be routed to an audio synthesis engine, also implemented in Max. The audio synthesis currently consists of fading between and out of different samples depending on how the object is being touched. However, I would like to continue to explore more interesting parameter changes with the goal of creating more complete interactive soundscapes using the objects.
For a clearer idea of how the instrument works, a Video Demonstration: