ITP Spring Show 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2-6pm & Monday, May 11, 5-9 pm

Michelle Mayer


The root boots are wearable tools for meditation on your connection to the earth and nature through sound vibration: becoming the tree.

Dataflow Programming for Projects,Project Development Studio (Marina Zurkow),The Nature of Code

The root boots keep you connected and grounded.
This image came to me of boots you can wear that look like the base of a tree with roots going into the ground. I like the irony of boots which encourage you to be still a moment and connect.
There are two different types of sounds which are created when the boots are worn, and they emphasize this encouragement to be still. If you attempt to pickup and walk, somewhat violent ripping and twisting of wood sounds are produced. If on the other hand you stay still for a while, a deep bass vibration slowly builds, which is felt through the feet, and shared with those standing in close proximity of the boots.
I intend this deep bass vibration to be a symbolic vibration of a tree's/Nature's life force.

This first iteration of the Root Boots is taking the form of a performance/demonstration.

After having the first image of boots made of a rooted tree base, I initially wanted the boots to have mechanized roots that (much like tentacles) constantly sought out the ground. That soon shifted to a sound based interaction after learning more about Pure Date Programming. For a while I explored developing a narrative context for the boots that involved a journey of a displaced girl on her search for a home using the boots as a guide tool, which she found under a bulldozed olive tree.
The narrative seemed too heavy handed, and I concluded that my original image was the perfect condensation of the concept, and that sound was an ideal format to translate it.


User Scenario
In this iteration I and one other performer will take turns wearing the boots, The boots will be mounted to a soil covered platform containing the bass shaker. As the performer attempts to lift her feet, the force sensors inside the soles of the boots will trigger audio clips sounding like ripping wood, and as she stand still, the bass shaker will gradually begin vibrating under the boots, and also under the feet of those nearby watching the spectacle.

The Root Boots are made of rubber boots, 3 XBee Chip radios, 4 force sensors, an XBee Lillypad, a Bass Shaker subwoofer with an amp, 2 speakers, plywood, a Pure Data patch, and fallen pieces of tree bark which I collected over the past three months in parks all over New York City.

I learned that mechanized tentacles are hard to make, and that I love and hate hot glue.