Strands of thread are tensed in oblique planes — from ceiling to floor, from wall to wall — , defining an architectural space that invites visitors in. Once inside, they become performers, moving through the space to find different ranges of pitch and timbres in the instrument that surrounds them. The sounds are generated synthetically, but, as is the case with traditional acoustic instruments, the experience includes texture, space, color and movement.
An interest in exploring the use of different materials — conductive ink, tape, fabric and thread — to create a spatial interface for generating audio brought us to the first prototype of Strings. Playing with it raised questions that lay in the intersections of music and body, body and space, space and sound: where should controls be placed in relation to the body? What should they look and feel like? How could we encourage movement? What kind of gesture or control should control what aspects of the music? Feet seem to be better for rhythm, for instance, and the fine movement of fingers for melody. Having seen too many musical performances where the musician is behind a laptop — an interface that, unlike a guitar or a piano, obscures the relationship between what we see (very little) and what we hear — , we set out to explore bringing back a collective, kinetic, tactile and visual experience to the performance of electronic instruments.