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Layered Motion and Gesture Sonification in an Interactive Installation

SoundThimble is an interactive sound installation based on the relationship between human motion and virtual objects in 3D space. A Vicon infrared motion-capture system and custom software are used to track, interpret, and sonify the movement and gestures of a performer relative to a virtual object. The authors explore the resulting possibilities for layered sonification dynamics and extended perception and expression in internal tests as well as in a public demo. Experimental evaluation reveals an average object search time of around 60 s, as well as thresholding ranges for effective gesture spotting. The underlying software platform is open source and portable to similar hardware systems, leaving room for extension and variation. This paper presents the pilot application of the proposed framework. Audience members entering the tracking area shift among the roles of game player, sonic performer, and composer/arranger, according to an iterative interaction schema. The central vehicle in all three layers is the “sound-thimble” itself, a virtual object with particular spatial, sonic, and interaction attributes.


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