HSS8120 Project Work 1

reflections from 10.10.18 : creative digital practice – research through art and design

In introducing the idea of research through art and design we were given examples of works that used sensors. Thought this wasn’t necessarily the aim of the lecture – it made me really excited about the possibilities of different kinds of sensors and their application in my practice, which thus far hasn’t involved any kind of interactive design or technology beyond the use of pedals, sequencers and samplers (preexisting technology, basically). I’ve never dreamed of what could be possible in terms of the creation of instruments from scratch for myself, especially not ones that serve as both conceptual and aesthetic objects. I feel like I’ve suddenly been given new materials to play with.

I started researching what kind of sensors would respond to a streching motion and came across the concept of “Soft Robotics” (wiki says: Soft Robotics is the specific subfield of robotics dealing with constructing robots from highly compliant materials, similar to those found in living organisms). I intend to look further into this – but at the moment I’m mostly excited about the idea of producing an arduino-based instrument using a flexible rubber sensor (measures stretch, displacement and force – changing resistance when stretched). I had two initial concepts for instruments that would allow a stretch to be translated into a change in pitch/tone/volume etc of a note. In both cases I imagine the production of a drone that may be improvised over using the voice or alongside other instruments :


A stretch sensor is attached to a piece of fabric, each end wound and tied around each hand. The performer “plays” the instrument by making performative archer like gestures.

Breathing skirt

A stretch sensor is sewn into the waistband of a skirt. The performer “plays” the instrument by breathing in and out (speficically by filling the diaphragm with air rather than breathing into the chest). This would give the illusion of singing but without sound coming from the mouth (performer could then duet vocally with the breath-controlled instrument, as this would also be controlling the voice at the same rate).