BeatBearings and the Wisdom of the Tube

by Andy Polaine on January 17, 2008

beatbearing.jpg

This BeatBearing project on YouTube by Peter Bennett is one of those physical interaction ideas that sounded great on paper, but is a bit useless in the flesh.

It’s a “tangible sequencer” but because it has so few slots, the actual rhythms you can produce are pretty clunky early 80s action (which is now old skool twice over – he’ll have to wait for the third 80s revival).

I’m sure it was a great exercise to build it, but it’s kind of what happens when you do a PhD and lose the joy and play. I’d prefer a Tenori-On personally.

Sometimes you have to love the Wisdom of YouTube, This comment caught my eye:

bl4h1: we just spent hundreds of years evolving away from this sort of thing. whats next actual instruments?

(Link via Matt at Kiel’s Foundlings)

[tags]interaction, sound, instruments, youtube, tangible[/tags]

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 tim buesing January 18, 2008 at 1:41 am

i like your prediction for the 3rd 80ies revival, cannot wait for that.
if it was stacked in 3D, couldn’t this be turned into some (sound supported) checkers toy? wouldn’t really trying to be an instrument anymore…

2 Andy Polaine January 18, 2008 at 9:41 am

I suppose so, but you still have the basic problem of the premise.

I think tangible interfaces can be great, but I always think the question of “Why is this better with a comptuer, digital or semi-digital than what came before?” needs to be asked. What can you do with a tangible interface, what does it show or reveal that wasn’t possible before? In this case I think the answer isn’t a lot and it ends up being an academic exercise. That has its merits if you are leading towards something (which I think Peter is), but I think its worth being wary of simply being wowed simply by the fact that it exists, not what it does. ZKM’s permanent collection is full of terrible works that relied on the technology rather than the idea – there are only a handful that still stand up even though the technology has dated.

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