Sound Steps is an audio installation I designed with Chelsea Stewart at the School of Visual Arts Products of Design MFA program. Inspired from our recent move to New York from the Midwest, we decided to collect sounds around the city and to find an interactive way to allow participants to interact with sound. Sound Steps invites people to walk barefoot across the platform to discover the city audibly.
We wanted to create a sound installation with the goal of triggering people's curiosity and delight. In order to understand the capabilities of the technology, we brainstormed inputs and outputs that could be pieced together. After being introduced to the Bare Conductive touchboard, we decided to have an output of sound with an input of physical movement. Our move from the Midwest to the city seemed like an interesting narrative to tell through sound. We collected recordings of sounds from the Midwest and sounds around New York City to compare and contrast the audial qualities of both places.
After uploading the sounds to the board and tinkering with the code to make the audio output louder, we had to construct a platform for users to interact physically with sound. We built a 4'x4' wooden frame with a 1/4" MDF layer on top. In the MDF, 9 equally-spaced pinholes were drilled out to allow wires from the Bare Conductive touchboard connect to conductive materials on top. Behind the MDF, we built a small platform for the touchboard to sit and made holes in the wood frame to let long wires run to one of the nine touch points. Finally, the top was painted white and the wire ends were taped over with copper tape and overlayed with conductive fabric squares to create capacitive touch points.
When testing the interaction on others, they realized that different sets of sound created different experiences. The sound set of Midwest-NYC sounds acted more as the discovery of a narrative. A second sound set of instrumental and drum kit clips turned the platform into a physical instrument set off by walking around the board. This is only the first experiment with the Bare Conductive touchboard. Moving forward, we would like to experiment with the board's proximity capabilities as well as connecting other types of Arduino shields to really explore the possiblities of the technology.