London Technology for the Human Harp

Can We Make It to the Bridge in Time?

After returning from Copenhagen, the team had 6 weeks to reach their first deadline - the 130th anniversary of the Brooklyn Bridge on May 24th 2013. The team's aim was to make 8 functioning harp notes, and film Hollie Miller testing them on the Brooklyn Bridge in time for the anniversary. Creators Project had agreed to make a mini documentary of their adventure.  

Becky Stewart, Adam Stark and Jon Nussey were developing the hardware and software that would run the instrument. Technical producer Becky explored ways of measuring the length, speed and angle of the string, consulting with Dave Meckin and fellow Media Arts and Technology student Laurel Smith-Pardue.

“Andrew McPherson our mentor at QMUL suggested that we use photo resistors strategically placed at the hole where the sting exits the module. As the sting shifts angle, each sensor would recognise the shift in light. Initial tests with 4 light dependent resistors showed that this was possible, but generated noisy signals that were difficult to calibrate. We then looked to infrared light to reduce the noise and calibration issues. This worked well with a single IR emitter and detector pair, but more investigation into different packages of emitters and the number of detectors is needed”  BECKY STEWART

Sound designer and software developer Adam Stark came on board to design the Human Harp sound software, exploring how the movician’s interaction with the string might compose harvested sounds from the bridge.

“The Human Harp modules will communicate with different software packages such as Max to generate sound. A driver will take in the serial data from the Arduino and translate it into Open Sound Control (OSC) messages that any OSC client can receive” ADAM STARK

Creative technologist John Nussey joined the team in the final month before NYC, to find elegant ways to embed the sensors, batteries and mini Arduino-mini into the harp note. The team completed their mission and 8 harp notes were fabricated. Di, Hollie and Anna packed them into a suitcase and set off for NYC!