human harp uses cables of suspension bridges to make music
images courtesy of human harp
london-based artist di mainstone observed an uncanny relationship between the architecture of a suspension bridge and the framework of a harp. synthesizing the musical and structural components, she has realized the ‘human harp‘, a clip-on prosthetic interfaced with sound mechanics, that magnetically attaches to urban structures, enabling dancers and pedestrians to ‘play the bridge’. the digital instrument orchestrates cutting-edge technology — retractable strings are integrated into the design, whose specific length and angle relative to the wearer is measured with sensory mechanics. data detects and calculates the vibrations of the suspension cables, generated by the motion of the wearer, and is adapted into a tone, controlling the volume, pitch, and intensity of audio output.
the collaborative team of researches, engineers, and artists working on ‘human harp’ will engage audiences in a experience of user-produced audible motion through the kinetic installation. the result will be a mass participatory art event that is set to tour suspension bridges around the globe.
the documentary by the creators project below exposes the artist’s process and procedure in the creation of the device. it also displays an experimental performance of ‘human harp’ on the brooklyn bridge in new york city, which acts as a research into the eventual interface between sound and movement. the dancer is filmed connecting herself to the structure and using the mechanism as an expressive tool.
making music with the brooklyn bridge | the human harp
video courtesy of the creators project
‘as I listened to the hum of the steel suspension cables, the chatter of visitors and the musical ‘clonks’ of their footsteps along the bridge’s wooden walkway, I wondered if these sounds could be recorded, remixed and replayed through a collaborative digital interface? mirroring the steel suspension cables of the bridge, I decided that this clip-on device could be harp-like, with retractable strings that physically attach the user or movician’s body to the bridge, literally turning them into a human harp.’ — di mainstone
the dancer uses her movements to control the retractable strings
rotating, a participant will be able to create sound from the data collected by the strings
a detail of the wearable device
the retractable cable device uses sensory mechanisms to calculate movement
sketches indicate the idea behind the ‘human harp’, and how it would integrate into the architecture