How

Emotion Meter

Emotion Meter

Cybraphon consists of a number of instruments, antique machinery, and found objects from junk shops operated by over 60 robotic components, all housed in a modified wardrobe. Its emotions are shown on a 100 year old school galvanometer; a motor-driven crank drives the bellows of an Indian classical instrument modified with 13 robotic servos; a switched fan pumps air through a Farfisa organ retro-fitted with robotic keys; 12 chimes are struck by suspended solenoids; numerous percussion instruments are hit by beaters attached to motors, including a cigar box with an integral spring “reverb”; and a purpose made vinyl record is cued robotically to play through antique brass gramophone horns. In addition to these musical components, Cybraphon has several internal light sources that are controlled on four fader channels, and infra-red motion detectors to monitor people watching it.

Shruti Box with wires

Shruti Box with wires

All these elements are controlled by a hidden computer via MIDI, DMX, and Arduino boards. And wire. Lots and lots of wire.

The computer runs custom software (coded in Python and MAX/MSP) to monitor the web and update Cybraphon’s emotions according to the rate at which its popularity is changing over time. All mentions of Cybraphon online that are indexed by Google are noted, as well as activity on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, MySpace, and this very website.

A review in a local newspaper, for example, will almost certainly radically change the mood of the installation – and hence the music it plays – soon after it appears. However, Cybraphon is an insecure, egotistical band. A good review will cheer it up in the short term, but once the initial excitement dies down it will soon become disillusioned if its fame does not continue to increase…

The music that Cybraphon plays is all composed especially for this installation by FOUND and spans a range of emotional states. Which tracks will be played at any point in time will entirely depend on Cybraphon’s mood. This is completely out of our control and in the hands of the rest of the online community.

Click here to read more.

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