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Visual Music: A Waveform Made of Vinyl Records, Benga Single, Inspired by Seeing Sound

Benga’s latest video was released early last month and made the blog rounds, but it’s worth considering as we continue our ongoing thread on visual music and how sound can go from invisible to tangible. A stunning video whets fans appetite for the upcoming Benga full-length Chapter 2, constructing a wave shape in physical form as a series of vinyl records. Using some 960 hand-cut vinyl records, the track’s waveform materializes in stop motion-filmed animation. Physical as it may be, the inspiration, say the creative team, was SoundCloud. UK-based creative team Us, consisting of Christopher Barrett and Luke Taylor, explain:

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Interaction in Thin Air: New Research from Microsoft, MIT Uses Magnets, Sound, Space

With multi-touch fully exploited and the basics of camera vision largely understood, interaction moves to the realm of free space, “augmenting” your world with gestures that find some physical connection. They surprise by working in some way that seems intuitive and natural, somewhere away from what seems to be the realm of the computer. And early in the month of May, we see a flurry of new research in just this area. Not one but two projects from Microsoft hold potential, and one from MIT Media Lab is just … absurdly cool. A summary: “Levitated Interaction Element,” out of the …

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Noisy Jelly: Gelatin Achieves Powers of Sound (And Make Your Own)

What if your musical instrument were gelatinous? Edible? “Noisy Jelly” is the latest project to imagine that scenario. Thanks to the capacitive quality of gelatin (known to us Americans by the brand name JELL-O and to some simply as “jelly”), you can mix up a set of colored instruments that jiggle when you touch them. Powered by the open hardware platform Arduino to read sensors and Max/MSP to produce sound, it’s the work of a couple of Paris-based students, RaphaĆ«l and Marianne Cauvard. Check out the terrific video featuring wide-eyed children, and specs below. What makes this more delightful is …

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PONK: Touchless Air Hockey, with Kinect + Flash, Groovy '80s Neon Graphics

Enough gimmick. Let’s get down to serious business, the stuff that illuminates our life and gives us a deeper sense of humanity. Yes, I mean air hockey. Yes, I’m dead serious. (Hey, I’m a fan.) In a brilliant – and brilliantly-colored – new project, the power of computer vision reinvents a familiar tabletop game. Live-animated elements and gameplay that connects with just about everybody are a recipe for something really successful. French co-creator Jonathan Da Costa explains:

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PONK: Touchless Air Hockey, with Kinect + Flash, Groovy ’80s Neon Graphics

Enough gimmick. Let’s get down to serious business, the stuff that illuminates our life and gives us a deeper sense of humanity. Yes, I mean air hockey. Yes, I’m dead serious. (Hey, I’m a fan.) In a brilliant – and brilliantly-colored – new project, the power of computer vision reinvents a familiar tabletop game. Live-animated elements and gameplay that connects with just about everybody are a recipe for something really successful. French co-creator Jonathan Da Costa explains:

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Voice Messages Become 3D Paper Waveform Sculptures: Paper Note

Instead of writing on paper, a sound executed in paper in three dimensions. All images courtesy the artists. Speaking of making the ephemeral tangible, as artist Andrew Spitz tells us, “it’s a fun process to map something that is so fleeting as a sound to a physical object.” That’s what he does in a new collaboration with Andrew Nip of the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design in Denmark. It’s a simple process – and that’s a good thing, as it means anyone with access to a laser cutter can get in on the fun. Using software written in the open …

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The Hand-Cranked, Antique MIDI Sequencer (High-Res Images, Details)

Music, ephemeral and fleeting, to many of us wants tangible embodiment, some physical sense of the tug we feel from its unseen vibrations. We’ve regularly featured the image of the circle as a sequence; even as music software prefers left-to-right piano rolls and scores and tracks, it’s a logical shape. Here, Finnish sound artist Martin Bircher looks to a last-century invention to build a mechanical expression of the sequencer. From an antique music box, comes MIDI, as in the video above. And if that’s too discordant for you, have a look at the original video below. Even in comparison to …

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Make it Tangible: Create Physical-to-Visual Interfaces with vvvv; Book Soon

The explosion of physical interfaces for computers continues. But it’s not so much the novelty of the idea as its evolution toward really being able to express ideas physically. Connecting visual expression to hands-on control, the creators of a new book entitled Prototyping Interfaces “sketch” in both the physical/electronic and digital/on-screen realms simultaneously. Color from an object can impact color onscreen, or a wooden knob can give a parameter physical form. Several things are significant about their effort versus the many other similar projects. First, they have beautiful documentation. (Yes, folks, if you’re scratching your heads wondering why you’re not …

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Tetrafol, Sound Object by monome + machineproject + Fol Chen, in Videos, Sounds, and Interview

LA-based bang Fol Chen (Asthmatic Kitty records) wanted to go beyond the computer as the playback and manipulation device for their music. So they worked with collaborators to invent a solution. In a new video, sounds, and an interview, we can share some of how this came into being. Built with the monome creators (Brian Crabtree and Kelli Cain) and LA research and experimentation center Machine Project, the Tetrafol is a custom, pyramidal sound device. The object warps Fol Chen’s music using gestural manipulation of playback, but can also use your own samples. And with open-source circuit and firmware, the …

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Tangible Music: The Reactable and Interactive Instrument Design, in Videos

Dig into humanity’s past, and alongside the earliest tools, you’ll find some of the earliest instruments. Designing objects for expression seems to be an essential part of civilization. Martin Kaltenbrunner, a co-designer of the Reactable tangible music interface, is also a professor in Interface Culture at the Linz University of Arts in Austria. There, in the land of Mozart and Haydn, he works with students to explore what interface design is. So, when I got to spend some time with Martin in New York in September, I was interested in more than just the flashy coolness of the Reactable, the …

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