Jul 21, 2011
I know, this is my third Imogen Heap post this month. But there’s a reason. Watch this video and you’ll see.
Imogen is performing an (improvised?) piece using the ‘Data Gloves’ developed for her by Professor Tom Mitchell at the University of West England. As far as I know this is the first video to be posted to date – thanks to @snailsandsushi for the link.
Debuted at the recent TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh, the gloves incorporate stereo wrist-mics like the ones Immi has been using in her live performances on recent tours, which allow her to sample and loop any sound within her reach.
They add a whole new dimension to this idea however, by allowing her to wirelessly control the sounds using hand movements and gestures. In this clip she: high-pass filters audio by “cupping” the audio in her hands; builds “air drum” loops from scratch; controls volume, reverb and panning by “conducting” and even uses some kind of time-scrunch/scratching processing towards the end.
Immi says the idea for the gloves came to her in a dream, although other people have done similar things years before – for example Julie Wilson-Bokowiec & Mark Alexander Bokowiec’s Bodycoder project.
As always though Imogen brings a unique accessibility to the technology. Just as she uses the internet to create genuine connections between herself, her music and her fans, so the gestures she uses with the data gloves are musical, intuitive and easily comprehensible to the audience.
We don’t see the wires, accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers working – we see a tangible, involving performance where the gloves and Immi’s movements have a real physical connection to what we are hearing – just like watching someone play a “normal” musical instrument.
Of course, it’ll be a while before systems like this are available “off the shelf”, and we can’t all have a university team building new toys for us – but there are plenty of iPhone apps with motion-sensitive controllers, and people are already building their own similar ideas – for example, here’s another TED talk.
(Thanks to @Zemmome for the link)
These are performances and technology fully deserving of the title “Future Of Music”, and I can’t wait to see the official TED video of Imogen’s performance – hopefully with stereo sound : )