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AIC Seminar Series

Enabling the Spirit of Play in Musical Instrument Building

Hans-Christoph Steiner[Home Page]

Notice:  hosted by Richard Waldinger

Date:  Thursday, August 2nd 2007 at 4:00pm

Location:  EJ291 (SRI E building)  (Directions)


More and more performers are using computer-based instruments for live performance, using software that allows complex control and interaction with sound and visual media in real time. All too frequently, these performers tie themselves to the keyboard-mouse-monitor interaction model, narrowly constraining the range of possible gestures. A multitude of gestural input devices are readily available, making it easy to utilize a broader range of gestures. Human Interface Devices (HIDs) such as joysticks, tablets, and gamepads are cheap and can be good musical controllers. Some even provide haptic feedback. Now, the biggest hinderance for performers wanting to create their own instruments is the usability of the software. To enable the creation of computer-based instruments, we are developing software that allows instruments to be built in the same spirit of play that many people apply when learning a traditional musical instrument.

This work is in collaboration with Cyrille Henry, Olaf Matthes, and David Merrill.

   Bio for Hans-Christoph Steiner

Hans-Christoph Steiner spends his time designing interactive software with a focus on human perceptual capabilities, building networks with free software, and composing music with computers. With an emphasis on collaboration, he has worked in many forms, including responsive sound environments, free wireless networks that help build community, musical robots that listen, software environments that allow people to play with math, and a jet-powered fish that you can ride. To further his research, he teaches and works at various media art centers and organizes open, collaborative hacklabs and barcamp conferences. He is currently teaching courses in physical interaction design at Polytechnic University’s Integrated Digital Media Institute and NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.

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