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04 JUNE 2013

The Senster: pioneering cybernetic sculpture

"The Senster, commissioned by the electronics giant, Philips, for their permanent showplace, the Evoluon, in Eindhoven, was a much bigger and more ambitious piece of work than SAM. In addition to responding to people's voices, the Senster also responded to their movements, which it detected by means of radar, and was (as far as I know) the first robotic sculpture to be controlled by a computer. It was unveiled in 1970 and remained on permanent show until 1974 when it was dismantled.

Its size – it was over 15 feet (4 m) long and could reach as high into the air – made the use of aluminium castings inappropriate, so it was welded out of steel tubing, with the castings employed only in the more intricate microphone positioning mechanism. Its behaviour, controlled by a computer, was much more subtle than SAM's but still fairly simple. The microphones would locate the direction of any predominant sound and home in on it, rather like SAM but much more efficiently, and the rest of the structure would follow them in stages if the sound persisted. Sudden movements or loud noises would make it shy away. The complicated acoustics of the hall and the completely unpredictable behaviour of the public made the Senster's movements seem a lot more sophisticated than they actually were. It soon became obvious that it was that behaviour and not anything in its appearance which was responsble for the impact which the Senster undoubtedly had on the audience."

(Aleksandar Zivanovic)

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TAGS

1970acousticsart + technologyartificial intelligenceartificial life • audio activated • audio controlledautomata • computer controlled • computer historycomputer sculpturecybernetic art • cybernetic sculpture • Cybernetic Serendipitycybernetics • direction detection • Edward Ihnatowicz • Eindhoven • futuristic machineshanging mobileinteractive artinteractive toykinetic artkinetic sculpturemechanical beingmechanismmovementPhilipsradarrobotroboticrobotic sculpturerobotics • SAM (Sound Activated Mobile) • sculptureshow (spectacle)simulation • sound activated • sound sculpturespeculative design • The Senster • wonderment

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
30 JUNE 2012

onformative a studio for generative design: unnamed soundsculpture

"The basic idea of the project is built upon the consideration of creating a moving sound sculpture from the recorded motion data of a real person. For our work we asked a Laura Keil, a berlin based dancer to interpret a musical piece – Kreukeltape by Machinenfabriek – as closely as possible with the movement of her own body. She was recorded by three depth cameras (Kinect), in which the intersection of the images was later put together to a three–dimensional volume (3d point cloud), doing so we were able to use the collected data throughout the further process.

The three–dimensional image allowed us a completely free handling of the digital camera, without limitations of the perspective. The camera also reacts to the sound and supports the physical imitation of the musical piece by the performer. She moves to a noise field, where a simple modification of the random seed can consistently create new versions of the video, each offering a different composition of the recorded performance. The multi–dimensionality of the sound sculpture is already contained in every movement of the dancer, as the camera footage allows any imaginable perspective.

Similar to painting, a single point appears to be still very abstract, but the more points are connected to each other, the more complex and concrete the image seems. The more perfect and complex the 'alternative worlds' we project and the closer together their point elements, the more tangible they become. A digital body, consisting of 22 000 points, thus seems so real that it comes to life again.

Using 3 different microsoft kinect cameras the movement of the dancer was recorded into those 3d pointclouds that were synced and exported as one large dataset as Krakatoa particle files to be loaded into 3ds max for further rendering and creation of the 3d scene including the camera movement that is controlled by the audio as well."

(Cedric Kiefer and Julia Laub, onformative a studio for generative design)

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TAGS

2012 • 3D point cloud • 3D pointclouds • 3D scene • 3ds Maxanalogue correspondenceanimationaudio controlledBerlinbodycamera footage • Cedric Kiefer • concrete image • connected points • creative practicedancedancer • Daniel Franke • depth cameras • design projectdesign studio • digital body • generative designgesture • Julia Laub • KinectKrakatoa (software) • Kreukeltape • large dataset • Laura Keil • Machinenfabriek • Microsoft Kinectmicrosoft kinect camera • modification of the random seed • motion datamovement • moving sound sculpture • multi-dimensionality • multiple perspectives • noise field • onformative • performerpersonal workperspective • physical imitation • Processing (software) • random seed • recorded motion data • recorded performance • sound sculpturespatial • spatial volume • studio for generative design • three-dimensional image • three-dimensional volume • transposing materials • unnamed soundsculpture • visual musicvisual spectaclevisualisationvolumetric particle rendering

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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