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DFRobot Jan 16 2019 241

Today, I would like to introduce my multimedia interactive device musical instrument work.

I have the industrial design background and studied in the major of interactive telecommunications, New York University in the postgraduate course. At present, I’m an interaction designer/ multimedia artist living in Manhattan.

I am a DFRobot fan and often shop there, so I like to share my work by use of DFRobot's products. Previously, I also shared my previous work, i.e., a small device named “Fortune on hand” telling your fortune through palm print.
Design (inspiration, appearance)
Firstly, the opportunity for making this work is a course named NIME(New Interfaces for Musical Expression) during postgraduate period. What makes me nervous is that I do not have music background. I just purely like making entity work.

At the inspiration search and collection stage, I started recalling my memory for sound in my life. I thought of grandma’s loom and air bellow. One of very deep impressions is the cooking bench mostly built by yellow soil in the rural area of Hebei Province when I lived with my grandma in the village. There was always an air bellow underground to make a fire for cooking. When I was little, I often heard the sound that the grandma pulled the air bellow for cooking when I woke up in the morning. The air bellow is made of heavy wooden structure, like heavy and useless lung. When you pull it, it will emit the air breathing sound.
So, I chatted with my teacher about my thought. I want to thank my teacher Tom Igoe who is also one of the founders of Arduino here. He is very smart. When I discussed with hum what kind of sensor to use and how to control the music, Tom said, “Forget the technology, tell me your grandpa. What kind of person is she?” Tom also said, “Don’t make two actions, air bellow pulling and weaving look simple, regardless of my design, because they are about survival.” I suddenly felt very touched, so I decided to make such work.
Then, I started finding the inspiration of appearance design.

First of all, in interaction, three actions: air bellow pulling for cooking, line touching and weaving are mainly used.
In appearance, the wooden structure is used, and the inspiration is acquired from the appearance of air bellow and loom. I repeatedly carry out remodeling test in Rhino to make it look traditional, nostalgic but also have the sense of courage and strength.



In structure, because CAD model exists, so I used the school’s CNC.



In devices, I used flying distance sensor, touch sensor, button, Arduino Mega, 3 strings of LED and two motors. I used Max MSP and composed music for mapping.



Meanwhile, I also like to add some small details in design. For example, the LED color hidden in the “air bellow” is actually controlled according to the flying distance sensor. To simulate the action “making a fire”, the “fire” gets brighter when the “air bellow” is pulled more forcibly.

I don’t have music background, I work with Wang Lu who is very talented in music. I coordinated with her about the music style and music corresponding to each sensor according to my design.
We want to present a kind of feeling, like the music is “woven”. So, every lifting equals to the cross-bar position of “shuttle”, and a button will be triggered to make all music enter the next stage. All these are controlled through MAX Msp.
After the performance ends, I think it’s interesting to make such work to share my memory in the past. I think this may be the charm of making. Every one’s work also tells the maker’s unique experience.


This Project is made by our fan, Siman Li.