Keith Lafuente Noise Machine: Updated

I want to create a machine that, essentially, creates a dramatic and cinematic soundtrack for the movements of the body; sort of like a real-time foley. Inspired by transformation sequences from popular anime as well as artists like Laetitia Sonami, I want to use noise and sound to transport and transform the body. I am unsure as to how I would make this machine specifically, but using Max/MSP in combination with a webcam seems appropriate. I don’t know whether I would be just tracking motion, or detecting the body and mapping sounds onto it. I also do not know exactly what sounds will be used for the machine.


5 thoughts on “Keith Lafuente Noise Machine: Updated

  1. Hey Keith,

    I find this idea really compelling! I wonder if there is a way to track body motions without using a webcam, so that you could emit a dramatic soundtrack throughout the day, especially in banal situations.

    Check out this cord-like variable resistor:

    You could use this to sense the extension of a limb – run one from your shoulder to wrist. Then software could look at these values to detect a transformation activation pose.

    Alternatively, here is a motion capture suit that uses conductive fabric and an Arduino:

    Hope this helps.

    – Miles

  2. Hi Keith,

    I am wondering if you’ve seen Very Nervous System by David Rokeby:
    It is a very early piece that reacted to movement to create sound. It uses homemade webcams.

    I wouldn’t recommend using a webcam though, you would be fairly limited with how you could detect the nature of the movement. It would make a lot of sense to use kinect skeleton tracking because it can get a lot more information about how someone is moving.

    But nothing is better than human motion recognition than people. Why not create the sounds yourself in reaction to the people you watch. You could either do it with objects like the Foley video you posted or have precreated sounds that you can trigger as you watch people.

  3. Somebody in Hybrid Instruments last semester made something similar:

    The hardware was occasionally not responsive enough, but he found that the mapping was the most difficult part. Since you’re interested in foley as opposed to music performance, the mapping could be more arbitrary in your case. I’m thinking about hand motions going “whoosh” and footsteps going “boom”, exaggerating those gestures with dramatic sound effects.

  4. Hi Keith,

    Later in the course we’ll be looking a bit at Trevor Wishart. He has a great book, ‘On Sonic Art,’ that talks about old techniques on radio shows for mocking up sonic narratives–some really interesting techniques, and also it’s cool to see how the mocked up version can sound better and more realistic than the a ‘real’ recording. I love the idea of creating a soundtrack for the human body, and am very interested to see the types of sounds you will explore. Random question(s): is this more narrative or more musical? (It could be both, I suppose.) I guess my question is one of relative abstraction. Are you telling a story? Will people recognize the sounds? Is it more interactive or more performative? Both? (Whose body is making the sounds?) I realize you said you don’t know, but I can’t help asking, anyway.

    I also like the idea of wearable electronics rather than a webcam. I have a small amount of experience with this, and am happy to help out/give suggestions, but there’s also a new artist-in-residence who specializes in wearables, if that is a path you are interested in going down. There are definite benefits and disadvantages to both paths…


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