(1994) for controller suit and computer
What if my voice could reside in any part of my body?
What if I could touch my voice by touching my body?
What kinds of song would arise from where?
I made this piece to find out.
… by the way: Yó is Spanish and means ‘I’.
The controller suit was developed together with Øyvind Hammer at the Norwegian centre for Technology, Acoustics and Music (NoTAM), and designed by Svein-Ove Kirkhorn. “Yó” is a cure against the composer’s loneliness, a dialogue with an externalized part of myself, as the machine has borrowed both my voice and some of my behaviour (through my programming).
So how does the controller suit work?
Thanks to the inventiveness of programmer Øyvind Hammer and costume designer Svein Ove Kirkhorn, we arrived at a quite interesting ultra-high-tech/ultra-low-tech solution:
While the computer it controlled was NOTAM’s cutting edge NeXT computer with an IRCAM ISPW sound card (the first personal computers that could handle realtime sound data), everything on the controller suit was very cheap and simple and bought in an ordinary hardware store. Typical of Øyvind’s clever solutions is the use of anti static storage bags for computer circuitry. To create the anti-static effect, these bags are semi-conductive. I had small hose clamps on my fingers with a small voltage on them (5V). Touching one end of the black strips on my arms, legs and chest, the full 5 Volt goes back into the central voltage-to-digital translating chip placed on my hip. Then the further away I touch, the smaller the voltage. In this way I had a lot of faders (+ a lot of on/off buttons of course) on my body to control the software.
Some of the sound you hear in the video (the singing sounds) come from a process which runs on its own, but I can control the general direction of it with the faders. Other sounds (the more percussive ones) come from one-shot samples triggered by the silvery strips on my hands, right knee and waist. The experience of controlling Yó is a little like a sonic equivalent of playing a video game.
Electric overview over the computer suit.
Blue: The “faders”
Black/white diagonal stripes: The sample triggers
Green: various higher level control buttons (the one in the middle of my chest is equivalent to “go to next level” in video games)
Red: voltage outputs