People living with a disability will find themselves opening up to the world of music at this year’s Melbourne Design Week, with performances involving high-tech instruments that use sensory technology to convert movement into sound and visuals.
AirSticks 2.0 are the latest in a series of gesture-based musical instruments developed at Monash University’s SensiLab that allow musicians and dancers to trigger and manipulate sounds and visuals through body movement.
They will be used in new works by five pioneering physical artists over three gigs, part of a partnership between researchers at SensiLab – part of the Faculty of Information Technology – Melbourne Design Week and space of inclusive performance Jolted.
AirSticks 2.0 look like drumsticks and are able to convert motion into sound and visuals with built-in sensory technology. Drumsticks can be manipulated easily and make the art of music creation accessible to a wide range of performers, including those with disabilities.
SensiLab researcher and co-designer of Airsticks 2.0, musician Dr Alon Ilsar, said many people with disabilities lack the ability to find their musical creative outlets, especially since the vast majority of instruments are designed by non-disabled people, for non-disabled people. .
“AirSticks 2.0 can be customized for the individual to promote creative musical improvisation and emotional responses for people with cognitive and physical limitations. The instrument promotes social engagement, connection, and a sense of self and purpose. identity through creativity,” said Dr Ilsar.
During Melbourne Design Week 2022, performances using Airsticks 2.0 will take place over three nights from March 25-27.
The first performance will be that of dancer and poet Dr. Melinda Smith, who will present her new work, “The Rhythm of My Body Shapes”.
Dr. Smith promotes the health and well-being outcomes of dance for people with disabilities and also mentors young people who use alternative means of communication around the world.
The performance is inspired by Dr. Smith’s own text, reflecting on discovering the possibilities of AirSticks technology. It is a collaboration with University of Melbourne music researcher Dr Anthea Skinner, disability advocate Libby Price and Dr Ilsar, funded by the Mentorship Initiative for the Arts and Disability from the Australian Council for the Arts.
“I have had many years of experience in the field of disability, art and education, but I could not have imagined that I would have such a unique opportunity to connect with sound through my dance moves and incorporating it into my words that way,” Dr. Smith said.
”I use dance and movement to communicate ideas and experiences that cannot be conveyed by words alone, so combining movement with sound and text, and having SensiLab’s technology to do so with as many expression and transparency, is a match made in heaven.”
Other artists at the event include emerging sound artist Alessio Dilettoso, composer and PhD student Ciaran Frame, Safe in Sound founder Robbie Avenaim, dancer Amanda Betlehem, Dr Ilsar, artist Sam Trolland and the Croatian musician and new media artist Lucija Ivsic.
Airsticks 2.0 was co-designed by Dr Ilsar with his PhD students Ciaran Frame and Sam Trolland.
SensiLab researcher Dr. Alon Ilsar and performer Dr. Melinda Smith are available for interviews.
To find out more about the performance or to register your attendance, please visit: https://designweek.melbourne/program/airsticks-2-0/