sam topley

sound art & craft


giant pompom

Made using the traditional cardboard ring method, the giant pompoms are 40cm in diameter. They use around 12 balls of yarn and take over a week to make.

The giant pompoms intend to encourage play and interaction in electronic music and sound art. The pompoms' internal sensors communicate wirelessly to a computer through Bluetooth. Numerous applications have been developed to sonify their movement, manipulate noise and trigger sound samples.

(Photo: James Andean)

Above is an image from piece for giant pompom, performed at De Montfort University in October 2016. The concept of the piece was to explore play as a method of composition. The pompom was rolled and thrown around the performance space and its movement data was sonified to generate unpredictable sequences of noise. The performers had no prior knowledge of the piece and were invited from the audience to play. Each performer in the improvisation performed an idiosyncratic response, with some bold, theatrical gestures and some more introverted and curious.

(Photo: Lisa Knight)

A giant pompom was commissioned in January 2016 by Erika, which is now used as a regular part of her performance. Below is a video from the first performance at the Red Gallery, London UK. See a video clip of Erika testing the software for her pompom here.

Giant pompoms have been used as pedagogical aides: as an interactive tool for community artists to develop concepts in lectures at De Montfort University and also to assist in articulating an application of coding in music making, such as in a workshop at Yamaha Music Centre, Surrey.

They are also used as sensory instruments in SEND settings, such as in the Making Noise workshops at the Guildhall Arts Centre, Grantham. A number of soundscapes have been created which unfold as the pompom is moved and touched (examples below).

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