Kai-Luen Liang & Josh Tucci – Swarm No.1 Movement for Bodies and Strings


A performance installation for mechatronic stringed instruments and generative animation. Swarm is an experiment in sensory connectivity between collectives and individuals, humans and machines.

8 individual sound sources. They can not all sound at once with only one individual. In order for it to all “swarm” at least 3 people must interact with the installation together creating a group composition and sound experience. If not, an individual may interact with 1-3 instruments at a time, unless he had ridiculously octopus like arms, possibly more. But the installation was created as a meditation on individual and group dynamics. An attempt to take a “simple” object and multiply it. Each having its own distinct sound, they all start to sound like a swarm of mechanical bees when they all are on.

There are 8 automatic stringed instruments made of wood, computer fans and guitar pickups. The computer fan is angled and bent in a way that acts as an actuator or striker: “a constant guitar pic” hitting the strings. The fan itself is controlled through an ultrasonic distance sensor sending distance information which controls the computer fan through an Arduino and a simple mosfet and resistor circuit which we kept on a janky breadboard with electrical tape. When the view gets beyond a certain distance threshold, the fan would start spinning at constant speed creating a drone metallic string sound.

The visuals are generated and rendered in realtime reacting to the audio input coming from the guitar pickups of the instrument. If there is no sound input, the visuals become a orange hue light source for the room. Each sound instrument has its own geometry that gets altered by that instrument and is located directly in from of the line of vision of the viewer. 8 sound relationships were projected on 3 walls.

Per Instrument
• Wood
• 3 Guitar Tuners
• Bolts & Screws
• Guitar Pickup
• Arduino
• Resistor
• Mosfet
• Computer Fan
• Ultrasonic Distance Sensor
• TouchDesigner, generative & real-time

Audio Sample from the Installation