Weather Report

Brick Table “Weather Report” Tangible Multi Touch Interface from BricK Table on Vimeo.

“Weather Report” is the first piece of custom software we wrote to explore the uses of the Brick Table. It is a sonification piece intended to take some sort of data, and use it in a meaningful and musical way. Heres whats going on and how you make music.

When you look at Brick Tables screen, you will see a colorful map of the U.S., which is showing the current surface temperature of the United States. Split sectionally/regionally across the screen are 9 different audio loops. The user has three puck-like objects that can be used in different ways to create music.

  • “Draw” Object – Draw a path around the map with this object to trigger any of the 9 different audio clips across the map. When you stop drawing, the path you drew will automatically begin looping itself, and re-triggering the sounds exactly how you drew the path. You will notice the audio being “filtered” and manipulated through a bandpass filter. This is being controlled by the surface temperatures of the areas you crossed while drawing the path. Because the surface temperature of a given place changes throughout the day, week, month, year…etc if you were to draw a path and make a loop at one point in time, as the temperature of those places changes, your audio will gradually change and evolve into new and different sounding compositions.
  • “Rotate” Objects – Rather than trigger different sounds and manipulating the sound based on geographic location and surface temperature like the draw object, the rotate objects use the map data in a different way. Place the rotate objects anywhere on the screen and you will begin to hear sound. Find a sound you like, and stop rotating, and it will automatically begin looping that sound. Moving the rotate objects EAST and WEST across the map will control panning and spacial location of the sound, and moving the object NORTH and SOUTH will control the overall loudness of the sound in playback. With the rotate objects, you are basically adding interesting layers and textures to your composition and using geographic location, you have complete control over how the sounds fit into you “mix.”
  • “Finger” data – You can use your fingers in a similar way to the draw object. For our current purposes, we have turned finger sensitivity down, and use it in a way to get interesting results in conjunction with the draw object. When the draw object is down on the screen, if you press your finger on the screen, it will draw a straight line connecting your finger to the draw object. This allows the user to use the surface temperature data from regions outside of your drawn path to filter the sound in interesting and perhaps tweaky ways.

All photos courtesy of Scott Ashkenaz