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Testing sensor system on a dancer – day 1

February 15, 2012

What:

I will test Eowave’s Eobody2 HF on a dancer.

Why:

I want to see if this system works with our project.

How:

I will have the sensors control simple parameters.

——–

The dancer:

I was lucky enough to make Hedvig Sønstebø Bang, professional dancer and long time friend, interested in joining the project.

Bang has a BA in jazz dance at The National Academy of the arts (Oslo, Norway) and is currently working as a freelance dancer.

I am utterly grateful for her participation and enthusiasm for the project.

Sensors:

We taped the following sensors to the dancer to control and modulate a simple drum loop:

  • Flexion

When she closes her hand she can control the loop.

  • Gyroscope

One axis controlling the speed and another the reverb.

Transmitter:

Both sensors are connected to a wireless transmitter attached to the dancer.

——–

First tests:

The fact that nothing sounds like it should and the dancer says that she is getting shocked explains most of the outcome of the first test quite well, but that is how a first test should be, right?

Now the sound is more stable and we got the dancer a glove so that she won’t get shocked. Apparently the flexion sensors that Eowave deliver electrify you if you have the conducting side on your skin, it operates at extremely low voltages so it won’t harm you, but it seemed unpleasant.

Now we tried something more relevant to the project, she looped me saying “blablabla” and then she modulated it.

I think I am starting to see the link between music and dance I have been looking for. As you see at 1:16 the dancer is associating the sounds she is creating with her body.

We felt that the range on the speed is too large: the fastest it way too fast and the slowest might be too slow. Also, the mapping seem to be wrong: both axises are controlling the speed.

——–

Sensor placement:

We wanted to experiment further with the sensor system so we decided to place the gyroscope on other parts of the body. We had no specific method, we just wanted to see if we suddenly would stumble upon something.

In later tests it will be reasonable with a more specific method, but since this was our first encounter with the sensor system, we decided to do it like this.

Now there is no sound in the videos, just an image showing what values we get from the sensors, this might be a little to technical for some, but try to think of it like this:

  • All the faders you see jumping up and down I can make control any parameter of the music.
  • The faders are jumping up and down because of the movements of the dancer, try to see the link.
  • If you try to imagine the faders controlling for example reverb, speed and volume you might understand why we are doing these tests.

Stomach:

We get quite clear readings here, this could definitely be used for something. But as Hedvig made me aware of, dancers doesn’t normally dance just like that, so we did a test with some more movements with the gyroscope still on the stomach.

I should probably have put on some music and let her dance, because this seemed somehow too forced.

But the fact that the faders start moving seemingly randomly when she starts dancing could be an interesting aspect. Maybe that way we will stumble upon ways to modulate sound that would never have been done if it was not a part of a dance.

Knee:

It would be cool to “kick” sound, and this way it is certainly possible.

Apart from that I don’t see any immediate use for a sensor at the knee. Suggestions are more than welcome.

Foot:

A sensor placed at the foot also enables the emulation of kicking a sound. Also it seemed more flexible to have it here than at the knee. Maybe a “straight” foot could enable another set of effects than a “flat” foot. For example a “straight” foot would make the stomach sensor control reverb whilst a “flat” foot would make it control a filter?

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