Embodiment- Design as Strategy and Practice

For my Embodiment and Space assignment I decided to make a musical instrument. Instruments of any kind have always made us react to it via our bodies. Without our bodies we cannot play them. The instrument always demands a specific position of the human body in order to interact with it. There are instruments that demand more movement than others. A person playing the piano is sitting down peacefully (relatively speaking) while a drummer has no choice but to engage their whole body in order to execute the beat.

My instrument is a stringed instrument is made of scrap wood, screws, and rubber bands.  I knew I wanted to make something with rubber bands. I’ve always played with them throughout life, stretching them between my fingers, changing the pitch with a changing tension. I constructed it standing up, with the instrument on a table, so naturally, I designed it to be playing standing up.  The instrument is fairly big, about 2 feet from top to bottom and 2 feet long. This is an instrument user test . What I like about this user test is how they try to figure out how to use it and modify the rubber band tension to fit whatever sounds they are trying to convey.  It was interesting to see someone else play the instrument entirely different than me, despite how simple and straightforward the instrument may seem.

In terms of its relationship to space, all instruments have a relationship. This instrument requires you to figure out how to approach it.  That said, it also allows you to come at it from different angles. There are also movements involved to play the instrument that are similar to playing a harp, although it’s eccentric setup involves hand and arm motions that are a bit more action packed than a harp. More arm twisting, more jerking movements when attacking the rubber bands. More leaving it and re-approaching it from a different angle.

Aesthetically, the instrument reminds me of something between a surrealist suspension bridge and a kora. I have also been playing with a “connect the dots” concept in all my work lately, and this is by no means an exception. The rubber bands are all connected by the screws (the dots) while the bands themselves create a sort of inherent web that holds the instrument together.

 

My performance:  marco test

 

 Kora, a West African Stringed Instrument.

 

 

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