Matti Niinimäki of Finland has combined a common household chore with music control. He transforms an iron and ironing board into a wireless music controller, capable of generating wobble bass, slicing beats, sampling, and anything else he might devise.
The ironing board itself is self-contained, sensing grayscale values on the surface. (That might mean you’d have to calibrate it to your shirt patterns if you really did use this to do your ironing, or at least put a marker between the iron and your shirts.) There’s also an accelerometer, and the device gives you feedback with vibration and LED. See also a second video.
Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a musical ironing board. Ranjit Bhatnagar brought his “Midi Ironing Board” – inspired by a coincidental meaning of the word “midi” in French – to an early Handmade Music. His model really does work with any shirts, as the sensors are underneath the board. (Photo below.)
I’m sure someone in comments will declare that all of this is old news, and I missed a shirt-ironing performance with John Cage and Nam Jun Paik in 1963 at St. Mark’s Church. Or no, not even – turns out the Italian Futurists did an early Explosive Shirt Pressing Ratatatatatat Bang Bang Boom!! performance before even the First World War, perhaps inspired by Erik Satie’s Shirt Flattening and Melodic Production Instrument, To Be Operated By A Cigar-Smoking Monkey, as specified in an obscure sketch from one of his notebooks. (I’m making this up. I think.)
Now, I’d just like to see techniques for combining all our chores – laundry, dishwashing – with music production. Let’s make it so. A few sensors and contact mics should do the trick.
This is just one of the many wonderful things Matti makes, which extend to robotics and a kind of digital puppetry and live visuals. There are a number of free tools to download on his site, as well: