Michael Chladil

Uses sound, physical performance, and the visceral tension of the Rope&Pulley instrument to explore the cycles of one man's life.


Classes Thesis

Simple materials and interfaces can lead to engaging performances and interactions. "Rope&Pulley" is a performance tool which combines media playback with large expressive gestures in physical space. Originally prototyped using recycled cardboard and old computer parts, the system was built with the idea that digital technology allows us the opportunity to endlessly remix and recycle audio. This is evident in both the building materials and in the interaction the piece affords. The rope and pulleys reference the look of the magnetic tape on an old reel-to-reel deck.

The interface is partly about the idea of looping music, a key to the production of most modern popular music, but also about the juxtaposition of body motion with music creation and playback.

Participants should have an interest in making music, but do not need to know how to play an instrument.

User Scenario
As many as four participants can make music together by pulling on ropes. Each rope controls the playback of a separate musical track. Participants must work together to align the timing of the tracks so they make musical sense. Rope position determines the locations of the "playback" head within the current track, so it is possible to scrub backwards and forwards. Rope speed determines the volume of the current track. With these simple controls, participants can improvise together.

  • As many as eight pulley assemblies (four with rotational sensors) secured on the floor and the ceiling (or a cable tray) -- under construction
  • Sturdy climbing ropes sewn into continuous loops connect the upper pulleys to the lower pulleys
  • As many as four CAT-5 cables connect the rotational sensors to a custom "hub" which sends the rotational data to a multimedia computer.
  • Custom software written in Max/MSP plays back music tracks -- almost complete