The Rib and Visor

Conception: Joseph Malloch, Marlon Schumacher, Isabelle Van Grimde, Marcelo Wanderley, Sean Ferguson
Design and development: Joseph Malloch, Ian Hattwick, Anthony Picciachia
Period: 2011–present

The Ribs and the Visors are “prosthetic” digital musical instruments developed for the collaborative project Les Gestes, in which we endeavoured to design new instruments for dancers.  The new instruments extrapolate from the T-Stick, which we had already used in the performance Duo pour un violoncelle et un danseur with the same collaborators. Starting with corrugated-plastic prototypes, the Ribs, Visors and their companion instrument the Spine were developed iteratively using participatory design through frequent workshops, parallel problem solving, and digital fabrication methods. The current models are fabricated from laser-cut transparent acrylic and polycarbonate. The entire structure is mostly assembled using solvent-welding, and custom 3D-printed mounts and clips were used for attaching the instruments to the dancers’ costumes.

Each of the instruments uses both movement and multitouch sensing, with the MiniBee wireless mote coordinating data-streaming.  Mapping from movement/gesture to sound was developed with the composers during intensive workshops, supported by several other tools we have developed: libmapper and a graphical mapping interface. Each Rib or Visor outputs nine different parameters available for mapping.

Related publications:

Joseph Malloch, Ian Hattwick, and Marcelo M. Wanderley. “Instrumented Bodies: Prosthetic Instruments for Music and Dance”. In A Framework and Tools for Mapping of Digital Musical Instruments, Ph.D. thesis, Music Technology, McGill University, Montréal, 2013.

Ian Hattwick, Joseph Malloch, and Marcelo M. Wanderley. “Forming Shapes to Bodies: Design for Manufacturing in the Prosthetic Instruments”. In Proceedings of the 2014 International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME2014), pp. 443–448, London, UK, 2014.