Wearable prostheses turn dancers into musical instruments

The Instrumented Bodies project creates prosthetic musical instruments that create sound based on the movement of the wearer's body. They also appear as cyborg extensions of the body, luminescent spinal cords, visors, and rib cage attachments.

Photo by Vanessa Yaremchuk for Instrumented Bodies.

Ph.D. researchers Joseph Malloch and Ian Hattwick created these prostheses at the Input Devices and Music Interaction Lab at McGill University under the supervision of IDMIL director Marcelo Wanderley. The prostheses work as multisensory controllers, playing music based on touch, movement, and orientation, giving the wearer a number of ways to manipulate the sound.

The researchers collaborated with dancers, musicians, composers and choreographers, to create instruments that would work as musical controllers, but also be visually striking and durable enough to use in a performance. The devices were recently used in a performance of the piece "Les Gestes," which is teased in the video below (with some nudity):

I'd also recommend watching the 15-minute documentary about the project. It's interesting to hear not just about the technological aspects of the prostheses, but also the design ideas that went into them. The researchers wanted to create pieces that appeared organic rather than human-fabricated, to make them believable as extensions of the human body. What they came us with are these transparent, internally lit creations made with 3D-printed components.

Instrumented Bodies: Digital Prostheses for Music and Dance Performance [IDMIL via dezeen]