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Interactive Media Installation: Firewall by Aaron Sherwood & Mike Allison

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Interactive Media Installation: Firewall by Aaron Sherwood & Mike Allison

Just stumbled upon "Firewall" by Aaron Sherwood (Artist in Residence at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, as well as a Masters Degree candidate at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program), a new interactive media installation he did in collaboration with Mike Allison. So what exactly did these two do? They stretched a sheet of spandex which acts as a membrane interface that is sensitive to depth that people can push into and create fire-like visuals as well as expressively play music. It's just a one off art piece, but it's pretty awesome none-the-less and can totally see this being put to use in EDM culture circles.

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The original concept stems from a performance piece Sherwood is currently developing as Purring Tiger (with Kiori Kawai) titled Mizalu, which will premiere in June 2013. During one scene in the performance dancers will press into the spandex with the audience facing the opposite side. Mizalu is about death and experience of reality, so this membrane represents a plane that you can experience but never get through. As hard as you try to understand what’s in between life and death, you can never fully know.

The piece was made using Processing, Max/MSP, Arduino and a Kinect. The Kinect measures the average depth of the spandex from the frame it is mounted on. If the spandex is not being pressed into nothing happens. When someone presses into it the visuals react around where the person presses, and the music is triggered. An algorithm created with Max allows the music to speed up and slow down and get louder and softer, based on the depth. This provides a very expressive musical playing experience, even for people who have never played music before. A switch is built into the frame which toggles between two modes. The second mode is a little more aggressive than the first.

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