Igloo brainstorming with The Bone Ensemble

I spent this morning with The Bone Ensemble and Kim Wall brainstorming ideas and interactions for new work in development Igloo.

I’ll be working more with The Bone Ensemble later as part of an AHRC-funded CATH project that teams up academics, artists and creative technologist types, but for now Kim and I were in to bounce around some ideas and possibilities right at the early stages of the work’s development.

Igloo is intended to respond to themes of nomadic Inuit culture and some of the vocal traditions such as throat singing and playful contests.

The Bone Ensemble work a lot with performances to small audiences, particularly in settings away from the theatre. For example they are currently touring one that takes place in a caravan… The focal point for Igloo is therefore a domed structure that will turn up at festivals and be assembled in situ.

The temporary structure currently being used in place of the igloo for this R&D week at mac Birmingham

They’re interested in integrating digital technologies into the performance and structure, so my task today was to introduce them to some of the possibilities of working with sensors and interactive systems.

To aid this process I’d prepared a few Arduino-based demos that linked inputs such as sound volume, proximity and touch to outputs such as sound files and lights.

Singing to some volume-reactive LEDs

After working through some of the demos on a table-top we decided to move them into the temporary structure the performers are working with this week in order to get a feel for how they behaved in a much more spatial context.

I really like this piece of video taken as people found spaces in the igloo to house the different demos. There’s a system on the outside of the framework that’s sensing distance (to someone standing in front of it) and then using that measurement to trigger different files that play back notes in a do-re-mi style. I love how the performers start singing back to it as they’re installing the other systems!

The volume-reactive LEDs worked really nicely in the new set-up and we were able to shout, clap and stomp at them from different locations from in and around the igloo. I get the feeling we’ll soon be prototyping something with a lot of LEDs…

We also found the potentials with the MaKey MaKey touch-sensing boards very interesting. Here are a few images as we explore and discover some of them.

Getting to grips with the MaKey Makey and its potential for instigating contact between people

I’ve left the demos with The Bone Ensemble as they spend the rest of the week in residence at mac Birmingham working through some ideas.

I have no idea where they’ll have arrived at by Friday, but it’s looking very exciting so far!

The rest of my photos and videos from the session are in this Flickr set.