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Contact by Felix Faire – Turns any hard surface into an interface

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Created by Felix Faire and on display at the Royal Academy in London for “Sensing Spaces” Friday Late event tomorrow (21st Feb), Contact is an acoustic research project that turns any hard surface into an interface. The project is part of work in progress research at the Interactive Architecture Lab - Bartlett School of Architecture, and supervised by Ruairi Glynn.

The installation uses contact microphones, passive sonar and waveform analysis to recognise information of touches, ie where a surface has been hit or how a hand has made contact with the wrist, fingers or the fingernails. The sound received from the contact microphones is digitally “resonated” to produce a melodic note from the original acoustic impulse. The wrist and fingernail hits trigger classic 808 Kick and Clap sounds instantaneously and the audio can be recorded and played back with a custom built loop pedal. The LEAP Motion controller was used to manipulate these sounds with various hand gestures that importantly avoid contact with the table. The projections were designed to visualise the impulses and vibrations generated from playing the Contact table, creating a live audio visual performance instrument.

Piezo sensors and Arduino are used to locate volume transients. Volumes between signals are compared and mapped to X&Y. The mics are connected to an audio interface to process detailed frequency information of surface vibrations in Ableton Live and Max/MSP. Finally the Max patch compares the signals, relative distance value and sends it to Processing via OSC to map to screen. In addition, there is a foot pedal connected to Processing via an Arduino uploaded with firmata. See video below for details.

Felix is a designer, musician and creative coder, who studied Architecture at Cambridge University completing a research thesis into spatial music perception. Felix is currently studying MSc Adaptive Architecture and Computation Masters as part of the Interactive Architecture Lab.

Felix FaireInteractive Architecture Lab

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