My performance BLIND selected fo the Margaret Guthman Musical Instrument Competition, an annual event to find the world’s best new ideas in musical instrument design, engineering, and performance, held at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
The Margaret Guthman Musical Instrument Competition, an annual event to find the world’s best new ideas in musical instrument design, engineering, and performance, is held at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Sponsored by the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology, the School of Music, and the College of Architecture, the competition selects 20-25 semi-finalists from all over the world each year to come to Georgia Tech to compete.
The Competition is designed to show how extraordinary ideas have the potential to change the way music is made and experienced. Entries are varied and creative, challenging the way instruments and music making have traditionally worked. Past entries have included a multimedia timpani, an electromagnetic textile suit, interactive light-emitting blocks, an iPhone Choir, and a keyboard that moves in and out as well as up and down. More unusual instruments have been submitted as well, including a flame-driven glass-tube organ, submersible percussion, a tongue-based controller, and a partially edible toy piano. The contestants, equally diverse, come from dozens of countries and reflect a broad range of interests and professions. Participants have included innovative creators/performers, full-time inventors, creative consortia, research groups, students, faculty, and dedicated hobbyists. All preliminary and final performances are open to the public, encouraging a wide audience to take part in the future of music technology. Each year, the panel of judges includes internationally acclaimed musicians, engineers, designers, performers, composers, and visionaries.
The Competition has become a major event in the world of new instrument design.PRNewswire has described it as “a hotbed for musicians and artists who are pushing the boundaries of music performance.” Wired.com has called it the “X-Prize for music,” and contestants have likened it to a TED Conference for new musical instrument designers. Peter Kirn of Create Digital Music observed that in “the crowded world of new instrument design, the Margaret Guthman Musical Instrument Competition has emerged as a key prize for the best work, with creations battling fiercely for attention.”
BLIND is a performance experiment blending body-art and interaction design. As a synaesthetic person I can “hear” and “feel” colors and the purpose of the performance is exactly to transport the audience in an immersive dimension in which the performer becomes the mediator of an experience of color through interactive sound.
During the performance I act a live bodypaint in front of a webcam which is programmed to recognize different colors. The information produced is then processed by the computer and sent to a digital synthesizer that activates a special sound for each color. The harmonic flow and modulation of each instrument is determined by the data produced by the coordinates of the color blobs in space, so that my painted hands, tracked by the webcam, become a musical instrument that you can actually play. The scientific research on the deep relationship between sound and color is the starting point of a personal journey in which I discover the connections between the senses.
BLIND at MACRO Testaccio from Francesca Fini on Vimeo.
In BLIND I want to tell the spirit of each of the four main colors that I use, through a sound or a combination of sounds. In order to be effective I associated to each color a group of instruments with a well-defined personality; I choose a mix of strings for the squeaky, creative, energetic, querulous yellow. I selected an electric guitar for the wise, modern, cool and powerful blue. And then the piano for the passionate, bloody, sweet and round red. I choose some noisy electronic “humming” sounds for the acid, angry and edgy green (imagine a swarm of prickly insects hiding in a dark green forest). As you can imagine the scientific and very precise research about color and blindness is just the beginning of my free and poetical elaboration; in fact I choose the instruments starting from my own personal experience and imagination of colors. The scientific and very precise research is just the beginning of my free and poetical elaboration; in fact I choose the instruments starting from my own personal experience and imagination of colors. During the whole performance I try to “interpret” the spirit of color, not only with the sounds I chose, their modulation and pitches, but also with the quality of the movement of my body on stage.
I want you to smell the yellow, to hear its music, to keep it between the fingers.
Discover BLIND project website
Margaret Guthman Musical Instrument Competition website