Hydraulophone: Water Jet/Fountain/Underwater MIDI Keyboard Instruments

Steve Mann, Chris Aimone, et al of the University of Toronto have developed a system for using streams of water to play a musical instrument. They describe the results in theoretical terms for the academic community, referring to ancient Greek water organs and the ability to have greater tactile feedback than other alternative instruments. But let’s get to the bottom line: this is a fun water toy that is not only tactile, but wet. You can play the instrument by manipulating streams of water directly: The “FUNtain” (hydraulophone) is an interactive multimedia fountain that responds when people block, one or …

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The Sound of Clothes: Zipper Orchestra

Okay, easy on the Clinton jokes, kids, but just a day after we learn an online fashion ‘zine is making music by recording clothing, we see that a team at NYU is taking the next step: using zippers as musical controllers. (Safe for work — they didn’t get that carried away.) The neatest part of the installation is that you use physical zippers to zip and unzip the jackets and pants of people in video images projected on the wall. Now, how musical is this? Well, that’s up for debate. Maybe shoelaces next time? (I can finally learn to tie …

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More from Cybersonica: Shredded Paper Music Boxes, PSPs, and Shadow Puppets

Since I couldn’t be at Cybersonica in London, some of the fabulously imaginative sound art slipped through the cracks. Here’s a brief look at the remaining pieces: Schizoporotica is a music box that plays torn scraps of paper. The object itself is quite gorgeously decorated, and it looks like people had great fun tearing up the tickets that fed the installation: Schizoporotica on Pixelsumo “The melody shredder” on We Make Money Not Art Project page from the Troika Design Studio that created it, complete with MIDI file samples (it’s been a long time since I saw a project documented with …

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Cybersonica: Building the Etch-a-Sound 3D Voice Drawing Toy

The Etch-a-Sound, shown at London’s recent Cybersonica sound art fair, lets visitors draw in 3D using their voice. It’s a bizarre idea, and the right-angle pipes recall a classic 3D animation as much as the original Etch-a-Sketch (awful model for intuitive illustration that the toy was), but it’s great fun. The creators also did a good job of documenting the process. It’s a great glimpse into a process that’s spreading rapidly: after a long drought, people are again making stuff with computers and electronics. It’s a new golden age for magical audiovisual toys. Process of making Etch-a-Sound Etch-a-Sound at Cybersonica …

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Video: Fijuu2 3D Sound Toy, in Action

Fijuu2 is the kind of art that seems to have dropped in from a wormhole from the future. It’s tough to describe, a rotating three-dimensional world in which visitors can sculpt glitchy and resonating sounds, represented by fluid 3D models, all using a standard PlayStation2 controller. We got a chance to see some stills earlier this month, from London’s Cybersonica show where the latest version of the work was installed. Now, the artist has shared a video, and you can really see what this is all about: Fixed YouTube link after it moved; thanks, Chris! -Ed. The best news is, …

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Pimp My Heart: A Car, a Subwoofer, a Laptop-Amplified Heart Monitor running Max/MSP

The “Heartbeat of America, Today’s Chevrolet” takes on new meaning. The Heartbeat Bass Booster project by Takehito Etani and David Tinapple involves one seriously pimped out Chevy Cavalier. Driving the project is a heart-shaped pendant with a heart sensor that clips to your finger or earlobe. Plug that into a PowerBook running Max/MSP, and your beating heart pumps out bass through the car’s subwoofer, while controlling the bpm rate of heart-themed music and driving an LCD, projector, and under-the-car LCDs, all integrated into the automobile. Good old-fashioned audio signal works the magic (since your heart is a kind of percussion …

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Art You Can Listen To, Music as a Game: Photos from Cybersonica

Continuing our coverage of the uber-cool Cybersonica Festival, here’s some quick eye candy. It’s just as interesting to watch how people interact with the sound art installations, from the sound “gate” with its nice blue light to the interactive shadow puppets, or this more analog mechanical installation. Curator Chris O’Shea tells me he’s getting lots of press, much of it from the UK gaming publications. That just demonstrates how this technology can bridge worlds: not only is the Guitar Hero creator there, but the common theme of many of the works is turning music and art into a game. And, …

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Cybersonica: Open Source Fijuu Makes Music in 3D, Navigating with a PS2 Controller

The 3D cards that power games are increasingly enabling new interfaces for music, merging the visual and aural realms. One of the most stunning experiments yet is the Fijuu, which just premiered in its second-generation form as a commission for Cybersonica sound art show in London. (Earlier versions have been seen around since 2004.) Fijuu lets visitors sculpt sound, then record the results on tracks, leaving sonic “footprints” as the sound creator describes them. The interface is entirely controlled by a standard PlayStation 2 controller, as shown in this screen grab.

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Cybersonica Video: Fabulous Sound Art Lets You “Play” with Music

Cybersonica turns a gallery space into an interactive playground, filled with sound art installations that mine the power of fun in art. Curator Chris O’Shea sends this professionally-produced documentation video from the hip Phonica record store in London: Cybersonica & Encompass Sonic Art Exhibition [YouTube] Among the delights inside: suspended disco satellites controlled by Korg Kaoss Pads, motion tracking that translates a performer into a shadow puppet monster (complete with roaring sounds), a liquid, fully-3D interface for making music which shall be known at CDM simply as the hotness, a 3D Etch-a-Sketch for sound, an installation with an interface controlled …

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Mapping and Location with Sound

Follow your ears! Yes, there was a time when aural senses were vital to location and geography. In the spirit of resurrecting that spirit, Spencer Kiser’s projects look at new ways of mapping using sound. Full details on his thesis page, but in brief: Sound maps: Field recordings in Forest Hills, Queens (outside Manhattan) are overlaid with an interactive map of the area. Upshot: drag with your mouse, and you can hear how the sound changes from one intersection to another, rather than just look at the usual visual representation. Geo-tagging with a phone: This “participatory sound map” (shown below) …

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