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Visibility of creative performance February 7, 2007

Posted by Melissa Quintanilha in innovative interfaces, music, physical interaction design.

The value we place in visibility of creative performance is exemplified by live musical performance.

While the music itself is more intricate and polished in studio recordings, audiences still pack concert venues because live performances permit listeners to witness the act of performance as well as co-produce the event (musician and audience respond to each other by mutual feedback).

With the spread of software synthesis and sequencing, laptop performers of electronic music became common, where a lone musician sits behind the LCD screen. Because performers sat motionless behind their computers (except for some mouse-clicking) the act of performance, although still taking place, was rendered invisible and as a result audiences became both disengaged and suspicious. “How do I know the performer is not just checking his e-mail?”


As an antidote, Audiopad reestablishes visibility of performance by creating a synthesis interface comprised of a projected tabletop display with several control pucks.

Audiopad is a composition and performance instrument for electronic music which tracks the positions of objects on a tabletop surface and converts their motion into music. One can pull sounds from a giant set of samples, juxtapose archived recordings against warm synthetic melodies, cut between drum loops to create new beats, and apply digital processing all at the same time on the same table. Audiopad not only allows for spontaneous reinterpretation of musical compositions, but also creates a visual and tactile dialogue between itself, the performer, and the audience.

Audiopad has a matrix of antenna elements which track the positions of electronically tagged objects on a tabletop surface. Software translates the position information into music and graphical feedback on the tabletop. Each object represents either a musical track or a microphone.



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