Home : Hardware : Finger Painting with Planets 
 
Finger Painting with Planets is an interactive installation using FingerWorks iGesture multitouch pads in a custom-built controller, shown here. The installation lets people place objects in space, and gravitational attraction between the objects produces graceful movements that are translated into visuals and sound. Knobs and buttons on the controller are used to adjust parameters. A musical keyboard is used to select notes that will be used in the music. Here are some slides describing the technical details.  

Yuri's Night 2008

It was first demonstrated at Yuri's Night 2008, though it was placed in the VIP tent, where very few people got to see or use it. Here's a picture of the installation as it appeared there:
Here's a video showing what it looked like in operation at Yuri's Night 2008. The music you hear in the video is not the music generated by the installation.

Maker Faire 2008

A few weeks later, it was displayed as part of the Bay Area Computer Music Technology Group (BArCMuT) booth at Maker Faire 2008 for 2 days, where lots of people enjoyed it. Here's a video showing clips of it being used there:

Night Light - an Evening of Luminous Environments

Then, as part of DOUBLE VISION, I took it to the Climate Theater in San Francisco on May 17, 2008, as part of a large show (several dozen light-oriented artists) called Night Light - an Evening of Luminous Environments. Here's some clips of it there:

Etc etc

This system has been used as a performance tool or set up as an installation at a number of other events, including Starry Night at Villa Montalvo, an Anon Salon party in San Francisco, the SubZero street fair at the ZeroOne 2008 festival, and Burning Man 2008.

Documentation

Here are some slides describing the technical details of Finger Painting with Planets.

Here's the original page of instructions and a brief outline of the hardware and software. Typical of many of my installations, the software involves a collection of interconnected programs in a variety of languages. KeyKit was used for handling all of the input devices and managing the LCD display. Plogue Bidule and Native Instruments soft synths provided the sounds. The visuals were done with Salvation using FreeFrame plugins. I wrote a FreeFrame plugin which uses embedded Python - the Cairo graphics library is used for the 2d graphics, Chipmunk is used to help do the planetary simulation, and two-way OSC is used to communicate between KeyKit and the FreeFrame plugin.

If you have any questions about this installation, send email to tjt-fingers@nosuch.com.