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Design

Introducing The Human Beat-Box

Half-man, half-machine, Ryo Fujimoto (aka Humanelectro) manipulates wearable technology to turn the body into an instrument.

by Lizzie Kurita
16 October 2013, 5:07pm

Humanelectro + "∑(SIGMA)" courtesy of Ryo Fujimoto.

Above, Ryo Fujimoto—also referred to by his beat-box moniker, Humanelectro—dons headgear and gloves developed specifically to compose music by harnessing the body as an instrument. Collaborators Eddie Lee and video artist and interactive designer Takuma Nakata created this spectacle utilizing a Leap Motion controller, which produces wearable gear that translates hand gestures and the wearer’s heartbeat into audible rhythms and synth sounds, as well as fascinating real-time graphics and visuals.

A small device that detects motion by sensing the user’s natural hand movements, Leap Motion allows Fujimoto to manipulate the beat with his mouth and his hands (see video below).

A graphics programmer and founder of Funktronic Labs, Eddie Lee employed Leap Motion to power the application Lotus—developing gestures to create on-screen music, timed with animation:

LOTUS - Trailer from Funktronic Labs on Vimeo.

Acting as the Conceptual Designer and Director, along with his brother Tsubasa, Takuma Nakata constructed the wearable devices that incorporate muscle and heartbeat sensors to produce MIDI signals. 

Jaqwawaj (12/12): Rewind Fast Forward from Takuma Nakata on Vimeo.

The project got its start when Lee reached out to Fujimoto—currently based in Berlin—after seeing his Leap Motion video. Fujimoto, familiar with Nakata’s work, introduced him to Lee— and from this trio SIGMA was born. (FYI: All three artists grew up on video games and the name SIGMA comes from the final boss of the Megaman game-series).

The presentation at the top of the post is the first offering from SIGMA as the group continues to integrate new types of technology into their process. One goal for SIGMA is the application of these techniques to create a robot that could eventually mimic Fujimoto’s movement: “The original concept [and| inspiration of SIGMA was to merge robotics technology and human expression into an audiovisual performance. We wanted the imagery of a robot controlling Ryo, like a robot puppet-master controlling a human-puppet, forcing the human to emit music.”

The inspiration for this partnership was a merging of man and machine, clearly visible as Fujimoto dons an accelerometer on his head, causing the projected face-visual to mirror his movement. In addition a heartbeat sensor on his ear increases the intensity of the visuals accordingly, and a glove with flex sensors emits MIDI signals. 

As Lee told The Creators Project: “We are so immersed in technology that I feel that it is only natural that we express ourselves with technology.” We’re looking forward to their TEDx presentation and the evolution of this art in future episodes.

For those curious, Ryo Fujimoto, Eddie Lee, and Takuma Nakata will give a public presentation of SIGMA at TEDxChiyoda on November 4th, 2013. Stay tuned to the TEDxChiyoda website for more details.

Top video courtesy of:

sigmaproject.net/

DEVELOPERS

Ryo Fujimoto | Humanelectro (Musician / Performer)

Eddie Lee | Funktronic Labs (Interactive Visual System Designer / Programmer)

Takuma Nakata and Tsubasa Nakata | TN2 (Concept Designer / Director / Hardware Design & Development)

TRAILER

Kanazawa Yasuyuki | Mengenlehre Photographic Office (Photography Director) 

Qomunelab Co., Ltd. (Movie Director / Shoot / Edit) 

Shimpo Takuto | Senbon Studio (Videographer)

GRAPHICS

Okada Masamitsu | OMD (Logo Design) 

Akita Yoshiko (Web Design)

Tagged:
wearables
leap motion
Eddie Lee
Funktronic Labs
Ryo Fujimoto
Takuma Nakata