Out of Control -- B1.1
The challenge for us was to create an instrument which would be a genuine twenty-first century music instrument which could interact with the other GMIS instruments
Our project is called Lumus, which combines the words Lux and Music. Lux means light in latin, thus creating, music by light, as we play with light for music.
Our instrument is made up by 2 laser-poles, 1 mirror-pole and a receiver-pole. The laser poles contain one laser and a couple of reflecting mirrors so we can split the one laser into 4 lasers. We do also have special constructions inside the poles so you can adjust to where the lasers go. Because we have this construction, you could easily deploy your instrument and set it up as big as possible, or to some extend as small as possible, as you want. This gives the instrument the ability to let it be played by multiple people.
We also did some user research and we found out, because of that, that our instrument really intuitive is and that people really wanted to try out the instrument by walking trough the lasers and really to start experimenting with them.
They start to experience the first learning curve with the placing of the lasers, because there is no physical touch. The second learning curve is that you cannot interrupt the lasers to fast.
We started with the idea of using a guitar, but removing the guitar strings, and to replace them with lasers. We worked this idea out as a concept with some sketches but we soon found out that it would be a massive thing to hold in your hands, and that you would be limited by a certain playable area. We wanted to make it more flexible and we wanted to make it bigger so that more people could interact with the instrument. Thus we dropped the idea to create the instrument so that it would assemble some kind of guitar, which would also make it less original.
We had the new idea to create some kind of a cube that would exist out of tubes which would contain the lasers and all the electronics. We wanted to visualize this thus we created some kind of prototype which existed of paper tubes, which would recreate the tubes, and with little ropes, which would reassemble the lasers. While we thought this would be a good idea, we saw that we would be limited in space and it would be really hard to transport the cube to another space. We then had the idea to be able to disassemble the cube into smaller parts, to make it easier to transport. This idea came with it’s own problems, like it being hard to put the small parts in the tubes. And the part of disassembling the cube, which would be hard with all the wires inside. And because we didn’t want to create a system in which you could unplug all the wires from eachother, because we could get confused which wire would fit another wire.
We ultimately dropped the idea to create the instrument in some kind of cube. We then came to the idea to create some standing poles which would contain the lasers and the receivers. We started creating the design and the wood plan for the poles, and we also thought about how we would exactly use the receivers for the lasers. We came up with the idea to use LDR’s for the receivers, so we could use the difference between the light density of the lasers and the light density of the receivers place without the light of the lasers.
When we constructed the poles and we added the lasers in the laser-poles and the receivers in the receiver poles, we started to write the program which would let the computer play the sounds when you would interrupt the laser. We started with using Max for playing the sound but we had a problem with the programming which wouldn’t allow us to interrupt the lasers and then play the sound. After doing some research, we found out that we were running three programs after each other and that that was not efficient at all. Because of that, there was a big interval between you interrupting the laser and the sound being played.
We then dropped the idea of using the program MAX and we simply decided to create the sound already and make an WAV or MP3 file of it, so we could let processing play the sound. After some testing, we found that this was the way to go.
When we finished that part, we started to look back at the design again, and we found out that it was not looking good enough and that it was not the most efficient design we could make, so we updated it and we renewed the whole design. We optimised the laser-pole, by removing all the lasers and letting just one laser do the work of the four lasers which were in the first pole, we did this by creating a system which would reflect a part of the laser, yet would also let it pass trough. We optimised the mirror-pole by putting the mirrors inside the pole and by creating different parts inside the pole which could turn on their own. We did also create some kind of system which could let the mirrors move up and down. We optimised the receiver-pole by giving it bigger holes for the lasers to go through and by giving each LDR it’s own room. We also made the receiver-pole a lot smaller. We also painted all the poles to make them look better, which definitely worked out.
The first things that comes to my mind if I take a look at the difference between how I was when I started this semester, and how I am ending this semester, is that I see improvements, shown and yet to show. I do see some development in how I stood in the design process. I do notice that how I developed is not how I expected it to go, as I state in my PDP. I was confronted with problems that I had, and I learned different things than I thought I was going to learn.
At the beginning of the project, I was motivated and filled with ideas for our instrument, project Lumus, just like everybody else in my group. Because we all had our own ideas on how our instrument would look, we all had to compromise and take decisions. This brightened my view over teamwork in the form of not focussing too much on my own views, but also look on the project from my teammates point of view.
During the first weeks of the semester, we had meetings in which we had to do challenges which were related to our project. These challenges contained things like different methods to come up with ideas for an instrument, and how we could visualize it. For your design process do you have to make some kind of plan which describes the road which you have to cover to get to your final design. During these weeks, I started to pick up on how the path of a design process, of a project, roughly looked.
After these weeks, somewhere halfway of the semester, we had to organize our own planning on what we had to do to finish our project. During these weeks I was confronted by my coach, Sjors Eerens, that my attitude was decaying, and thus I was letting my team down, and that I really had to start investing more work into the project again. I acknowledged this, and saw that it happened due to the fact that I was thinking too easy about the project, thus letting my involvement decay. To keep this from happening in the next semester, I have to keep myself busy with my project, and possibly keep a logbook saying what I did per week. I am very glad that he pointed this out to me, and I started to change my attitude to the project and tried to be of use again. Due to this, I felt like I lost my place in the team, and was trying everything to get it back. This taught me that when you work in a team, you have to keep up to date and that you have to communicate a lot.
After this decline of productiveness, I started to be more involved into the project and I started to work on the Processing code with Kevin. Before I did this, I had no knowledge on how coding works. Doing this, I picked up some basic knowledge; thus being able to write simple codes and see what stands for what, on coding in general, and in coding programs. This mostly improved my integrating technology skills.
I also helped with making the prototypes and the final product. This improved my crafting skills and also helped me to visualize the designs I had created with my drawings. It showed me that when you visualize something with sketching, you have to create a plan on what you have to use, and how you are going to build it. It also showed me that materials have limits which you do not experience when you sketch it. In these ways did it improve my form giving skills.
In the end I do think I have not done and improved myself enough in this semester, and I would like to improve myself more in the next semester by being more involved in the project and spending more attention to it.
"The working prototypes: From an early stage your where experimenting with working prototypes. Have a setup, experimented with it and adjust the model. You really worked on an iterative cycle." -Sjors Eerens