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Volnovod is a robot sculpture that uses wire to make sound visually

Muscovite sound artist slash mad scientist vtol (aka Dmitry Morozov) has been at it yet again. This time, inspiration struck when his iPod earbuds tangled. (Good thing he hadn’t upgraded to wireless!) And the result was a new visual interface for music, embodied as kinetic sculpture. Volnovod, sounding for all the world like a long lost Soviet lunar probe (or, um, sounding like “waveguide” if you happen to speak Russian), is an installation / controller / instrument built on the idea. And it comes from the artist just as he’s fresh off a rich Berlin exhibition full of ingenious inventions. …

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A piano, played by clouds and sky

We can reinvent the instruments we already have; we can try to steer a pathway to something new. Or we can sometimes imagine a known instrument in a new context. This new short film covers a robotic piano that’s got an unusual angle. Using image analysis, those mechanical fingers transpose patterns of cloud and sky onto the keys. This poetic take on cloud gazing comes from media artist David Bowen. It’s a nice take, I think, on sonification, in that it isn’t just about a stream of data that’s abstracted from its source. It’s really as though the drifting clouds …

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Silk is a giant string instrument that makes Bitcoin into music

::vtol:: silk from ::vtol:: on Vimeo. Welcome to the Internet of Sounds. The latest from our friend vtol, aka prolific Moscow-based sound artist Dmitry Morozov, is an installation of tall, spindly metal towers strung with wire. Standing at two meters, motorized fingers pull on diagonal strings – five of them, for the dollar, Yuan, Euro, Canadian dollar, and Ruble. The tune, though, is all about data. As Bitcoin and Litecoin cryptocurrencies fluctuate in value against the more traditional currencies, the imagined monetary values generate new melodies and rhythms. Recalling both the controversial recent silk road and its historical analog, these …

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Robotic Mapping Pulls a Model Building, Tron-Like, Into the Virtual

MPS – Building Presentation from White Kanga on Vimeo. A model building rotates, light spilling over it. A virtualized sun creates shadows and accelerated days. And then, halfway through, the building still gliding in circles, it’s as though you can see through the building to wireframes beneath. The latest illusions from the White Kanga crew aren’t simply mapping as a novel way of making projection look three-dimensional. They appear to alter the reality around the object itself, playing with our perception’s ability to see animation as something fluid and real. Or, to put it another way: moving the subject, not …

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K’nex Toy Robot Plays Piano; Instructable Shows You How

Robots may not yet surpass the piano-playing skills of master musicians, but they can at least blow a few piano students out of the water. And the latest musical robots aren’t priceless models out of big corporate R&D departments. They’re hacked together from off-the-shelf toys, use cheap parts, and are assembled with instructions you can grab free off the Internet. Now, what was that about the age of DIY being dead again? (Sorry, Radio Shack; maybe it just moved to Toys ‘R Us.) Behold a programmable robot made of K’nex interchangeable toys. Recently featured on the how-to site Instructables, this …

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Jazari: Utterly Brilliant Robotic Percussion

No comment on this one just yet; I’ll have to pick my jaw up off the floor. Amidst a sea of new robotic percussion, this Wii-remote-controlled, Max/MSP-based mini-ensemble of wooden African percussion is musical, expressive, and downright stunning. I love the mechanical (literally and musically) grooves, and with a single human controlling it live, it’s true to the one-man-band history of these sorts of instruments. “One human, three machines, rhythm,” says the video description. I hope to do some research and share more soon, but I can’t resist sharing the results now. Thanks to Patrick Flanagan for the tip on …

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Round-Up: Robotic Drummers, Robotic Percussion

So, your human drummer can’t bang out the elaborate breakcore beats you’ve composed, huh? Build your own robotic replacement, putting the magic of positronics into rhythm. That’s what the folks of Texas Central Positronics and the David Crowder Band have done with Steve_3po, the robotic drummer. It brings new meaning to “drum machine,” blending acoustic sound with programmed rhythms. The secret to controlling this machine with MIDI is none other than one of our favorite kits, Highly Liquid’s MIDI Decoder. For more on that side of things, see the recent story by Mike Una here on CDM: DIY MIDI In, …

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Spacedog Sleigh Ride: Robotic Bell Rig Chimes in the Holidays with Prokofiev

We’re in the middle of a snowstorm of holidays (most definitely plural), and, for many of you, possibly also a snowstorm of snow. So, gather by the fire with your robotic DIY carillon and bask in the warm glow of gorgeous, chimey Prokofiev. What? Haven’t got a DIY bell-playing construction of your own? It’s not snowing? Gather by the YouTube and bask in its warm glow instead. Robotic Prokofiev will be all you need. Creator Sarah Angliss of Spacedog sends us the video above. Video details and technical specs: Fireside music, performed for your enjoyment in one take after a …

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Hear a Robot Read A Christmas Carol on iPod, and More Holiday Cheer

The above awesomeness: a Minifig Christmas Carol, via Flickr. IVO Software, a Polish company that develops text-to-speech software, have announced they’re making a free PDF of A Christmas Carol available for download on their site. The idea is, you take this PDF, then unleash their Expressivo text-to-speech tool on it. Sure, every actor from Patrick Stewart to Jim Dale to … well, just about anybody who’s anybody with an English accent has read the story. But now you get it in the somewhat robotic monotone of “Jennifer”, an American, synthesized voice. Jennifer has won awards and rave review, but let’s …

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Video: Robotic Theremins, Ready To Replace a Human Near You

Just in case mastering the subtleties of playing a Theremin isn’t hard enough for you, you’re in luck: you can master the subtleties of building a robot that has to then master the subtleties of playing the Theremin. Sarah Angliss, a human Thereminist in the UK, sends us this video of a creepy doll robot playing the Theremin. (If you’re prone to the jeebilies, you may not want to watch. Sarah writes, “I’ve posted my latest jam with Clara 2.0, the theremin playing robot doll, on YouTube. Hope you enjoy watching her talents (or lack of them).” (Technical details after …

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