Macchina poetica converts sounds into onomatopoeic words

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Macchina Poetica is a digital prototype converting sounds into onomatopeic words and images and it’s inspired by the art of the Futurism movement.

Futurism is a modernist, avant-garde artistic movement originated in Italy in the early 20th century. Thanks to sound representation, Futurism artists aimed to emphasize speed, technology, youth and violence, all concepts arising from industrial innovations and war.

In order to keep continuity with this particular artistic movement, the authors, Alessandra Angelucci, Aris Dotti, Rebecca Guzzo, students at Master of Advanced Studies in Interaction Design SUPSI, decided to design an object that looks like the musical instrument of Futurism movement (precisely a Celesta). The object plays a metallic sounds and the user is facilitated in understanding how to use the object due to a instrument-like interface.

The machine is built using 4 piezo sensors, a thermal printer, a board, electrical cables, 4 resistors (1K), a 6 volt power supply and a Genuino Uno board.

The instrument’s interface is designed with plywood, metal plates and sponge that serves as a shock absorber. Between the metal plates and the sponge there are the piezo sensors along with resistors communicating with the Genuino Uno board every time the user interacts with the metallic plates. Once the Genuino receives the signal, it sends a command to the thermal printer that will print a word or a Futurism poem.

The interaction takes place when the user with the help of a metal tool (for example a screwdriver or a wrench) strikes the metal plates with different pressures. At the end of the performance the user and the viewers can have a clear overview of the produced sounds reviewing the printed paper outputs.

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The prototype is the result of two weeks physical computing class Creating Tangible Interfaces held by Ubi De Feo at Maind program SUPSI  in Lugano, the goal of the course is how to make tangible interfaces via learning fundamentals of electronics prototyping and interaction design.  (Applications are open for the next edition 2016/2017 starting in September 2016)

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