Keynote at Pervasive 2009 – Toshio Iwai

Toshio Iwai gave the keynote at Pervasive 2009 on expanding media art. He introduced us to the basics of moving images and films. The examples were fun and I think I will copy some for my introductory class on user interfaces for explaining the visual system (afterimages with a black-and-white negative image; the concept of combining images on two sides of a disk; the idea of moving images by using a flip book).

In his introduction he also went back to explain what he learned as a child and I found this very interesting and encouraging to expose smaller children more to technology than we usually tend to do (especially in Germany I think we do not give children much chance to explore technologies while they are in kindergarten and primary school). Hope to go with Vivien to the space center in Florida in few weeks 🙂

Following up from the basic visual effects he showed some really funny life video effects. He introduced a delay to some parts (lines) in the picture when displaying which led to ghostly movements. Everything that is not moving appears in its real shape and everything that is in motion will be deformed.

In the final part of his talk he argued that the Theremin is the only electronic instrument that has been newly invented in the 20th century. For him an instrument has to have unique interaction, unique shape, and unique sound. Additional for the interaction it is essential that the interaction can be perceived by the audience (you can see how one plays a violin but not how one makes digital music with a laptop computer). Based on this he show a new musical instrument he developed that is inspired by a music box. The instrument is the TENORI-ON [1]. It has a surface with 16×16 switches (that include an LED) and 16×16 LEDs on the back. It has a unique interaction, its shape and sound is unique and it supports visibility of interaction as the sound is combined with light pattern. The basic idea is that the horizontal direction is the time line and the vertical the pitch (similar to a music box).

[1] Yu Nishibori, Toshio Iwai. TENORI-ON. Proceedings of the 2006 International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME06), Paris, France.

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