Whether you're caroling at the neighbors or going out for karaoke, singing is better with company. But if you don't have Beyoncé's budget for backup singers, the Warsaw-based designers at panGenerator, the same group responsible for that stylish, projection-mapped jewelry, may have just the robotic choir for you. Entitled ECHOOOOOOOO, this set of eight robotic speakers sing and dance in reaction to the singer's sonic intonations, delaying, glitching, and pitch-shifting each note to make a choir's worth of new voices.
ECHOOOOOOOO's initial concept began when designer Krzysztof Cybulski created a speaker that could generate different tones of feedback based on controlled, mechanical movements. His colleague at panGenerator, Jakub Koźniewski, noticed the "lifelike, quite adorable movement of the speaker… almost as a living organism, in a pixar lamp-esque sense." He began expanding on the design, adding seven more speakers, linking the sounds to mechanized choreography, and prototyping versions of the minimalist rig in the robo-choir's demonstration video.
Polish singer-songwriter Bovksa sings with ECHOOOOOOOO. GIF by Beckett Mufson via.
"The biggest challenge was to make the movement and sound produced by the speakers clearly linked to each other, without losing the expressiveness of the whole thing," Koźniewski tells The Creators Project. That lifelike quality, honed through collaborative development with every member of panGenerate, is what makes ECHOOOOOOOO so compelling. The vocalist can control the choir's movements with a well-placed do, re, or mi sound, so these reactions are spontaneous rather than rigidly programmed. When Polish singer-songwriter Magda Grabowska-Wacławek, a.k.a. Bovska, serenades the camera in the above demonstration, the machines wiggle and wail in a unique, irreplicable combination.
Koźniewski says this is just the beginning, speculating that ECHOOOOOOOO might have a future performing in large scale spectacles alongside high-profile professionals. If Daft Punk began performing with actual robots, or Beyoncé put some of her budget toward automated backup singers, for instance, ECHOOOOOOOO's descendants might become Hatsune Miku-level digital pop stars.
Testing out ECHOOOOOOOO. Screencap via.
Bovksa's voice controls the domino-like movements of the ECHOOOOOOOO robots. GIF by Beckett Mufson via.
ECHOOOOOOOO, 2014. Image courtesy of the artist.
Visit panGenerator's website for more out-of-the-box experiments.