不成方圓 (Neither a Square nor a Circle)





A musical instrument that explores the transition between clarity and ambiguity.




Individual Project, 2019

Exhibition:
ITP Winter Show 2019

Role:
Concept, sound, composing, physical computing, fabrication


Tools:
Ableton, MaxMsp, Nano BLE 33, Accelerometer



“沒有規矩,不成方圓” is an ancient folk-say in Chinese, meaning that you cannot create a square and circle without using the ruler and compass. People usually use this quote to indicate that you cannot accomplish certain things without norms or standards.

Square and circle is a very specific definition of a shape. There is no space of ambiguity when they are referred to. To recreate these shapes, we, without practice, need to use tools or processes. It seems to be our instinct to define, classify, disambiguate and interpret.

But why making a circle or square at the first beginning? Isn’t the ambiguity and the in-between state seems more natural in our lives? Isn’t the uncertainty a source of creativity? Jean-Paul Sartre followed Heidegger in describing the human essence as ambiguous. Nietzsche said that “There is no fact, only interpretation.”

Hence, I wanted to make a musical instrument to express the idea of the dynamic tension between clarity and ambiguity in life, and my emotion when struggling with them.



Design






I gained inspiration from Japanese artist Akinori Goto’s work, and decided to use the form as a way to represent the morphing between two states, being circle or square.






I decided to map the shape lightened to the shape of sound wave --- morphing from more squar-ish wave to circle-ish wave.


Sound Design


Performer interact with the instrument through the following ways to change the shape of light and, thus, change the shape of sound wave.


Interaction Design


The mapping of performer’s action and sound is achieved to accelerometer sensor installed in the instrument.






Fabrication & Prototyping




2D prototype in VectorWorks



3D prototype in VectorWorks


Physical prototype














@2020 wenjing liu