sam topley

sound art & craft



As a response to the theme of 'One Knob To Rule Them All', ball explored the creation of a 'knobless', knitted interface for the playful and expressive control of electronic sound.

Initial investigations explored the garter stitch as a method of knitting to weave conductive thread through the wool to turn the object into a tactile interface responsive to skin contact. This is an example of an alternative approach to the knob within the relatively 'knobless' field of electronic textiles. Upon further exploration, it became preferable to retain more 'knob-like' qualities to the object with regards to performer gestures, and so internal sensors were used to sonify the movement of the ball. The sensors with a wireless interface allowed the ball to communicate with Pure Data and its movement to be tracked. Designed in collaboration with John Bowers, the Pure Data patch sonifies the accelerometer axis data to generate unpredictable sequences of sound with variations in amplitude and stereo spatialisation. See a video demonstration of the patch below:

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The ball was then presented as an improvisatory performance piece for small ensemble, with the only directions being for the ball to be the rolled between members of the ensemble. Within the often chaotic and frantic soundworld, particular musical interest came after the performer had investigated the object and it became halted; then sounding fragments of a sequence and on occasion, falling silent. The accessible form of the object also encouraged further interaction with the audience who later moved the object around the performance space. Other performance gestures included full body knob turning, careful knob passing and playful games of catch.

ball is published in "One Knob To Rule Them All: Reductionist Interfaces for Expansionist Research" in the proceedings of the international conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME), Brisbane, Australia, 2016, pp. 433-438.

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