Harmonic Paper

by Laewoo(Leo) Kang, Tianyuan Gu, Geri Gay, March 2013

The project ‘Harmonic Paper’ is a stand-alone interactive interface that helps users explore the
relationship between music and drawing. By means of a microcontroller, MIDI codec IC and series of photocells, the interface detects the thickness and location of drawing in a letter-size paper(8.5 in x 10.5 in), and converts them into music note and sound volume. As shown in Figure 1, a user can insert a piece of drawing on the top of the interface(1) and crank the handle(2) in order to roll down the paper. While the paper passes the sensor box(3) that includes 15 photocells, it generates the sounds on real-time according to ink’s location and thickness with color LED light feedback.

The color of the lights are mapped by the order of corresponding sound frequency(i.e. C, D, E, F, G, A, B convert to Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Dark Blue, Violet). The software interface is also provided in which users can virtually practice the functions of this hardware. Such combination of software and hardware allows users to create both musically-composed drawings and visually-created music.

He(和) : Calligraphy as a Musical Interface

by Leo(Laewoo), Amy Chein/ 2010

Exhibition at Re-New Digital Art Festival 2010 in Copenhagen and NIME2010 in Sydney
Published in proceeding of NIME2010 in Sydney

He(和, harmony) is a sound installation that enables a user to play music by writing calligraphy. We have developed a system where calligraphic symbols can be detected and converted to a sound component including pitch, pitch length and volume into corresponding music. This novel sound installation allows the users including, musicians and calligraphists to expand their means of expressions.

Calligraphy is an art of precision, practice, emotion, and style. The practice of calligraphy shares a lot of characteristic with music composing. The beauty of calligraphy is the line’s art which lies in the strokes and its change of works; which the technique carries the same principle when study the music instrument. The music note is a set of instruction that allows the practice of music. This project is meant to explore the territory where this set of instruction is replaced by another set of precise art. Music performance is similar to the practice of calligraphy. The wrong stroke of a word is equivalent to a wrong key. 和(H?) is using calligraphy to create a set of musical language. A language that utilize the basic of calligraphic expression: unrestrained, mature, virile, grace, sober, well-knit, prolix, rich, exuberant, and classic.

Based on the expression of the word, can musical notation become an art creation in itself? What if musical score goes beyond representation, and become a presentation. The calligraphy of the musical note becomes a part of the art creation. Location, length, direction and pressure become parameters that also contribute to the music. The precision of music creation will be retained, but the perception of sounds and visual be enriched. The relationship among note and music and composer are now more powerful, emotional and personal. So in the case of calligraphy music, the musical score becomes a brush stroke. The stroke location, length, direction and pressure become the physical parameter to compose music. The relationship among artist, calligraphy and music are in harmony, 和(H?).

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