When we last saw Onyx Ashanti, he was speaking of a grand vision to remake himself into a music-performing Tron. Now, the elements of that vision are coming together, with a crowd-sourced funding campaign that
ends today, Friday. Update: Apparently after seeing this story, IndieGogo extended the funding deadline for five days, with the new deadline Thursday, December 1.
I knew Onyx back when he was playing more conventional wind controllers. Now, that fingering arrangement is freed from the virtual wind instrument, handheld and movable through space. Because of the plans to open source everything he’s making, you might yourself pick up that hand controller – or, if you’re like Onyx, go full-tilt with physical training to make your body do new things and a carbon fire, full-body prosthetic transformation.
Onyx has been at auditions for the main TED (the big one, not TEDx), experimenting with a beatbox configuration, and honing alien-like futuristic human reinvention with the help of artist Christopher Logan, aka Loganic. Loganic makes the art, then prosthetic engineer Uli Maier – with doses of carbon fiber – translates those notions into physical form. And the whole thing is mobile; Onyx draws on his busking background to take this thing wherever he goes.
Initially built as an open/proprietary hybrid, the new system is increasingly open source from the ground up, from customized Linux-based software to Pure Data (Pd) patches to open source designs for the molds. The wearable system can be 3D printed. Plans for the system also were featured in Make Magazine.
It’s actually quite a lot to digest, but Onyx has been posting videos, the most recent and illustrative of which I’ve included here. And because there’s a lot to do physically, from personal training to buying clay to engineering the prosthetics, Onyx is relying on crowd-sourced funding. In place of Kickstarter, which has specific requirements for minimum funding and other restrictions and requires US-based banking, he’s opted for IndieGogo.
If you invest just a few dollars, you at least get music; with successively larger donations, Onyx throws in his software, custom artwork and posters, t-shirts, or starting at US$500, the custom hardware itself for your use.
The IndieGogo campaign ends Thursday, December 1:
IndieGogo: Beatjazz System
— but we’ll be in touch with Onyx on an ongoing basis, so let me know if you have questions for him or want to watch this continue to evolve.
Videos showing the making of the elements of the system:
Above: New visualizations in 3D have vastly expanded the now-Pure-Data-based audio system with heads-up displays worthy of the spacesuit. Below: Some of the beautiful concept artwork produced for the project.