My highlights from the recent Cybersonica exhibition were remodelled versions of simple hand-operated objects: the Etch A Sketch and music box. Some of the other things on show were too clever for me - I don't find PSPs intuitive and have no patience for complicated interfaces. These things should work without human instructions.
Anyway, back to what I liked: Troika and atoyfactory made great quasi-monolithic black boxes that did things when you prodded them. (Not literally. I tried, but touch screens aren't in it seems.)
First off, schizoporotica
was really good to look at. So all of their things are beautiful (like last year's
datasound) but this thing had grooves and detail:
There were stacks of flyers/punchcards to tear, and a whole host of songs to choose from. The machine warped the tune in accordance with the pattern of the shredded parameters. Naturally I chose the tetris theme, but apparently the most popular track was Jump. Que? Got to feel sorry for those Phonica employees.
On the other side of the room, EtchAsound
had 4 microphones which controlled the dimensions of a moving 3D drawing. This video describes the whole process better than I could.
As interesting as these things are, I don't know whether they'd work outside the language of the original objects. They rely on a sensory understanding that's been warped: the creative constraints of the hand-operated toys have been replaced by physical constraints akin to hands being tied. It's a little stifling for those who are hands-on, but the tech's suitably impressive.
Back at home I got out my Mogwai music box and played Tracy on repeat, so it's ok. On the subject of music boxes and neatly tying knots: before curating the cybersonica exhibition Chris
worked on a beautiful installation with Allofus
at the v&a called Plink Plonk
that had the things emitting patterns: