4 years ago I saw a great 3d animation called Pipe Dream, part of a DVD of animations called Animusic. Music played by robots, in particular Pipe Dreams was played by very co-ordinated bouncing balls. I recommend you watch it here. The creators never claimed this to be real, but some prankster did.
Well now those dreams are a reality…
“In early 2008 ABSOLUT (Vodka brand) is launching a project that explores what happens when cutting-edge technology meets the creativity of art, music and design. To emphasize its deep commitment to the subject, ABSOLUT turned to some of the greatest technology visionary teams of our time, and asked them to create THE ABSOLUT MACHINES. The result is two artificially creative and highly interactive music-making machines, as visually stunning as they are technologically pioneering”.
“Created by Dan Paluska and Jeff Lieberman, the main component is a marimba played by an array of rubber balls shot by robotic cannons. Imagine the visual effect of balls flying almost six feet in the air before hitting the marimba keys with perfect precision. When a chord is played, several balls will be launched simultaneously. As they pass the top of their trajectory, their brief pause highlights the imminent notes.
The second timbre is based on “the finger on the wine glass trick”. The series of glasses, turned to various pitches, are all spinning at the same time – and they are played by small “robotic fingers”. The “Wino” will be able to play almost 40 notes at a time. The final sound source will be an array of robotic percussive instruments.
The mechanical movement of the machine will be obvious, but the cutting-edge technology, or the brain of the machine, is hidden. The degree of artificial intelligence will make the machine be perceived as highly creative, responding differently depending on the input it receives from its users”.
Go straight to a video on youtube.
If you are lucky enought to be in New York, you can see this work at 186 Orchard Street.
There is tonnes of behind the scenes video tests, photos and documentation. Take a good look around the site.
“Created by Swedish studio Teenage Engineering, it looks and sounds like no choir you are likely to have ever experienced before. In setting up an advanced framework of speech synthesizers, Teenage Engineering has created a multi-channel robotic choir, comprising of 10 singing characters in various shapes and sizes.
The ABSOLUT CHOIR is an architectural installation, showcasing the unmistakable design talent of Teenage Engineering. It consists of 10 colorful wooden characters – varying in size and styles with the smallest being four inches and the largest almost eight feet tall. There are men, women, tenors and sopranos in the ABSOLUT CHOIR, each member with a unique and synthetically produced voice. The mother character holds a master clock – and each character contains a small, embedded Linux device, a DA converter and a speaker, making it possible to distribute sounds and to virtually conduct the members of the choir.”
At www.absolut.com/absolutmachines, online users from around the world can interact with the ABSOLUT CHOIR. As the Choir starts singing, the user may input words to the machine. As the machine receives the words, it immediately uses them to generate a musical composition and lyrics. The robotic choir follows the lead of its human partner, and with the help of generative algorithms, the machine engenders a melody, tempo, dynamics, timbre and lyrics inspired by the user-generated input. The composition is also infused with the machineâ€™s current mood and from the most recently analyzed words input by previous users. A lot of short words with many consonants may result in a fast arpeggio-like song, while softer words may result in a slower composition. As a result of co-production between man and machine, ABSOLUT CHOIR creates a harmonic, yet surrealistic sound palette.
Congratulations to everyone involved, its really the best thing I’ve seen in a while.