A three-year project has resulted in a collection of 3D-printed prosthetic pieces that play music as the wearer dances.
When you play a musical instrument, you make certain movements when you play; the way you hold your body and hands varies from instrument to instrument.
A new type of instrument is utterly dependent on its player's body. Two Music PhD students at the Input Devices and Music Interaction Lab (IDMIL) at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, have designed a series of prosthetic musical instruments that have to be worn — and they play as the wearer dances.
Joseph Mallock and Ian Hattwick, under the supervision of IDMIL director Marcelo Wanderley, spent three years developing their project, working closely with dancers, musicians, composers and a choreographer to develop instruments that are more than a separate object — they are an extension of the human body. Lit from within by LEDs, they include articulated spines, curved visors and rib cages crafted using 3D printing and laser cutting.
Embedded within each is a variety of sensors, power supplies and wireless data transceivers, allowing the wearer to create music by touch, movement and orientation. The signals are sent through an open-source peer-to-peer software system developed by IDMIL to produce the synthesised music in real time.
The pair is still working on developing the instruments, but the current versions toured Canada and Europe with two dancers and two musicians as part of a production called Les Gestes this year.
You can find out more about them in a short documentary detailing the process of their creation below.