The Spine

Participants: Joseph Malloch
Ian Hattwick
Anthony Picciachia (research assistant)
Marcelo M. Wanderley (supervisor)

The Spine Digital Musical Instrument. Photograph by Vanessa Yaremchuk.
Funding: FQRSC (S. Ferguson, M. Wanderley)

Project Type: Research-creation project.

Time Period: Fall 2011 - Spring 2013. Status: ongoing.

Project Description

The Spine is a “prosthetic” digital musical instrument developed for the project Les Gestes, in which we endeavoured to design new instruments for dancers extrapolating from the T-Stick used in the performance Duo pour un violoncelle et un danseur. Starting with foam prototypes, the Spine and its companion instruments the Rib and the Visor were developed iteratively using participatory design through frequent workshops, parallel problem solving, and digital fabrication methods. The current models are fabricated from laser-cut transparent acrylic, transparent PVC tubing, and PETg rods. The entire structure is assembled using interference fitting rather than any glues or fasteners.

The Spine tracks and reports it's orientation and shape in real-time, accomplished through the use of inertial and magnetic-field sensing at each end of the structure. Sensor-fusion algorithms run on-board the instrument.


Demonstration of the orientation and deformation tracking running onboard a foam prototype of the Spine:

A promotional video for the Gestes performances including shots of the Spine in rehearsal: