Human Harp LIVE-LAB by Di Mainstone & Collaborators from London and Beyond

Dates: 4-29th of August 2014

Opening hours: 12-5pm, Monday – Friday

Location: The Roundhouse, Torquil’s Bar, 1st Floor Bar by the Top Roof Beach, Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8EH.

Artist in residence at Queen Mary University of London, Di Mainstone, has developed a new instrument with her London team – The Human Harp, which she used to play the Brooklyn Bridge for its 130th birthday. This year she aims to unleash the voice of the Roundhouse during a one-off residency.

Human Harp LIVE-LAB

The Human Harp is a device that clips on to any urban or industrial structure enabling the user or movician to play it like a giant instrument. The Human Harp attaches the movician to the structure via retractable strings. By extending, plucking and moving with these musical strings, the movician can adjust various characteristics of the structure’s voice.

The Human Harp

Each modular instrument contains a retractable string, with state-of-the-art sensors built in to its body. The sensors detect how far the string is pulled out, the speed at which it is being moved, and its angle. Data from each of the strings is transmitted wirelessly to a piece of custom written software which transforms all of the information into sound. The resulting sounds are triggered by a mechanical device which is attached to the architecture. These structural resonances are sampled and then manipulated by the movicians as they interact with the musical strings.

“We thought that if the Human Harp could play a giant bridge, it could possibly play an industrial building like the Roundhouse.” Di Mainstone.

“The Human Harp will work in synergy with building’s structure and acoustics to unleash the voice of the Roundhouse and make it come to life.” Di Mainstone.

This August The Human Harp Live Lab is a pop-up laboratory situated on the first floor of the Roundhouse, which is open to the public for the month of August thanks to funding from the Queen Mary University of London and the Arts Council’s Grants of the Roundhouse. Visitors will be invited to test the twelve new Human Harp instruments that have been specifically designed for the team for playing the Roundhouse. By combining art, play and scientific integrity, the human harm LIVE-LAB aims to create a collaborative municipal instrument for the 21st century.

The Human Harp is a collaborative project initiated by Di Mainstone, who is an artist in residence at QMUL where she works with students and researchers to create sonic sculptures that extend from the body and trigger sound. The Live Lab team includes students, alumni and researchers from QMUL; and engineers, musicians and designers from across East London.

Di was inspired to create Human Harp when she realized the bridge could be played like a giant harp. During the first phase of development she collaborated with QMUL students from the Centre for Digital Music and Media and Arts Technology Programme, digital start-up Anti-Alias, as well as twenty MA students from Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design. The device was used to play the Brooklyn Bridge on the 130th anniversary of its opening.

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