The Sound Playground

A few months ago, Joshua Fried told us about his involvement in a new-ish exhibit at the Connecticut Science CenterAV&C, a systems design firm, worked with the technical folks at Aesthetec on the museum exhibit called ArtJam. It’s a set of interactive sculptures that you can use to make music with friends.

There are 4 types of digital musical sculptures: a rhythm sequencer, a melodic fretboard, harmony wheels and an upright bass. Using customized LED and sensor controls, Aesthetec says, “The exhibit employs several hundred RGB LEDs, touch sensors, and Ethernet controllers – all designed specifically for the museum application. Special emphasis was placed on designing highly modular and easily maintainable electronics to ensure long-term activity of the exhibit.”

Here’s a video showing how people interact with the sculptures, which I find quite friendly and futuristic:

Museum-goers get an opportunity to actually compose music in groups, using these objects that light up and create tones and patterns with touch sensitive controls. To ensure that the result of all that tapping and spinning doesn’t descend into mere electronic noise, Joshua Fried stepped in as sound designer/composer to establish methods of emphasizing certain musical elements or weeding out a player’s less than stellar contributions.

Joshua described how he designed the musical elements for this project at the tail end of this audio interview about his ongoing solo work Radio Wonderland:

Hey, once they figure out how to make musical dinosaurs at the natural history museum, I’m going to be first in line. 🙂