The last course of the Spring in was called Tangible Auditory Interfaces. I expected it to be about developing new musical instruments, but it was more about sound art and sound installations. The goal of the course was to create a sound installation in the Botanical Garden of Helsinki in Kaisaniemi.
Teacher was Till Bovermann from University of Art of Berlin together with Mila Moisio, a textile designer from Helsinki.
The technical part of the installation was created with Arduino equipped with a small amp and a small speaker. The tangible part was felted wool, with touch points for interaction. Both of the aspects were somewhat new to me. I had done Arduino stuff only once before and I remember having done felting at at school when I was 8. Luckily Mila taught us how to felt, and Till provided us with the basic Arduino setup so that we had a sound already from the beginning. Our job was to design what to felt, and how it should sound like.
Our project was called Borborygmi. I was working with two fellow students, Ava and Gabi as a team. We designed and felted imaginary fruit-like objects which we stuffed with wool and pressure sensors. The stalk of the hanging fruit was a flexible, with stretch sensor and the fruit itself had touch points. There were 3 different types of sonic interaction in one Borborygmus: squash from squeezing the fruit, squeek from pulling the stalk and ping from touching the fruit.
The initial idea was to create something that would not only invite the visitor to touch but also bring joy to the visitor. We wanted them to be familiar part for the environment, but on the other hand be visually striking. We hoped that the visitors would play with them – we wanted to make art that can be experienced instead of just watching.
I concentrated on setting up the Arduino and designing the sounds plus planning how the wires should go. Ava made the design of Borborygmi and together with Gabi they did the felting. The speaker, togther with the arduino, was placed in a small sack along the green stalk. Borborygmi were installed on a branch using a metallic wire inside the stalk.
There were 3 different Borborygmi: Bor, Bo and Rygmus. I think the the overall concept was really nice and suitable for a sound installation in a botanical garden. However, something went wrong with the wires and how they were isolated from each other: touch points and pressure sensor didn’t work together but were intervening each other. In practice it meant that none of the three sounds worked as we planned. Luckily they worked in some way, so we were satisfied.
Making them work properly would have needed a couple of days more work. However, I think the design of the fruit was excellent and at least they had some sound. Having made the fruit work better and having better weather during the installation week I would have been very proud to show the installation to each and every visitor of the botanical garden. Now it was mostly raining (except for the first day which you can see in the picture) and the electricity wasn’t water-proof, so we got them up and running only a couple of days.