This device is based on the American "washboard", a musical instrument which appeared in New Orleans in the late nineteenth century. Originally, it was a board used to clean and beat dirty clothes. It was later converted into a percussion instrument.
The instrument presented here is a digital scope extrapolation:
a washboard matrix based on a grid of 100 interactive zones, that is to say a 10 by 10 weave. No physical contact required but only gestures in space can "play" the device.
The "mesh" allows to perform gestures in all directions of a plan, while viewing the image which is the origin of the contact zones.
Moreover, the plan may be rounded or curved, which increases the sense of perspective and highlights the 3D rendering. (Clic below to see YouTube vids !)
The system consists of a screen, a video projector, a camera, a light spot, a computer, a stereo sound system.
The camera captures and identifies the movements and uses this data to make sound and distort an image in three dimensions, according to a technique inspired by the bump mapping one.
Extrusions of the surface happen where the computer benchmarks movement. A strategy for allocation and distribution of contact points is applied over the matrix in order to promote a sound and visual coherence.
This mesh is also connected to audio functions allowing to trig sound samples and to control filters and various sound processing.
This device is a hyperinstrument, on the edge of instrument-making and digital art.
Instrument-making, undoubtedly because it requires specific gestures to get coherent sound and music.
Installation, since an unlimited number of participants may be simultaneously present to interact with the system, and involve oneself in a playful approach.
This device is the result of 2 years of work, development and explorations. To date, there is only one basic visual and sound configuration.
Development prospects of the project would be to program additional configurations to diversify the visual and sound processes, and develop strategies that describe the mathematical relationship between the interactive visual matrix and contact areas at the origin of the sound.
Kalash Agostini, mathematician, is the scientific advisor for this research.
The DIGITAL WASHBOARD was on display in France at several Festival since 2009 and the system has been explained atIGNITE 2010 international conferences. The Lyon's Town Planning Agency for the symposium entitled "Digital technologies and Cities, new uses, new faces" received the DW in June 2009.
Igor Deschamps at MetaLab (digital works non-profit organisation) and Walpurgis, artists' society, support this project by the availability of materials and resources for diffusion.
The Digital Washboard was produced by CreArtCom Studio.
Derrick Giscloux is a musician and digital artist. He composes, plays and develops interactive digital devices for live performances.