Music of The Spheres – A Collaborative Audiovisual Playing Enviroment for Children

Music of the Spheres (MOTS) installation is production part of my master’s thesis for Aalto University School of Art and Design – department of Media in the unit of Media Lab.

It was created in collaboration with Daniel Vester and additional GUI consultation was carried by Anna Salmi. The installation was presented publicly first time in the Masters of Arts (MOA) 2010. After the exhibition the installation was placed permanently into Kindergarten Museum Helsinki. (Figure 1).

MOTS Collage
Figure 1. Music of the Spheres: ready to play…

Technical Setup

Music of the Spheres allows multiple users of all ages to play and interact simultaneously. The interactive environment consists of a tabletop projection screen and external speakers that present dynamic multimedia when producing music and sounds. Users can interact with the system using different geometric shaped blocks as tangible interfaces (Video 1).

Video 1. Users playing with the MOTS: Testing situation at the Helsinki Kindergarten Museum.

Resulting Sonic Interaction Design

The interaction metaphor of the MOTS is closely related to the act of gardening and growing flowers. Using the tangible objects users are able to create kaleidoscopic geometrically shaped flowers and to explore the poly-rhythmic sound patterns. You may look at the ending result of the interaction from below video. In the video are represented three larger flower objects, seeds and and one smaller note object. The larger flower objects are individual flowers that are mapped to the geometric shaped tangible objects. When the table is on idle state the flowers are in their nests. When a block is grasped and put on the table, a corresponding flower travels under the tangible block. When the user moves the block the flower follows it with a spring effect. As soon as two or more of the blocks are on the table flower visuals and sounds can be produced. By facing the tangible objects together on the screen users can create smaller flowers that produce sounds in collaborative composition process. The sound samples include 22 individual samples. The samples of the MOTS are 22 diatonic notes progressing from C1 to C4. In the following video is represented the note progressions through created flowers (Video 2).

Video 2. Screen capture of the MOTS: Visual objects and corresponding audio elements.

Research Context and Working Group

Aalto University School of Art and Design - department of Media in the unit of Media Lab

- Matti Luhtala (concept design, sound design and programming)
- Daniel Vester (concept design, product design)
- Anna Salmi (GUI Design)

Music of the Spheres Poster
Figure 2. Music of the Spheres: official MOTS poster


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