Arboration is an experiment in virtual environmental game control that places the wellbeing of a digital forest into the hands of a performer using music (and music theory) as the control interface. Playing a capacitive sensing one octave piano keyboard either grows a forest or burns it to the ground depending entirely how its played. The fate of this forest is in your hands.
The idea behind this project stems from the desire to combine musical improvisation with dynamic narrative control. The physical action of playing the piano-like, touch-sensitive keyboard is translated via harmonic analysis into data that controls a 3D environment projected onto a screen. By analyzing the intervals between the notes being played by the performer we can determine if what is being played is harmonically consonant or dissonant which is sent through the programming to determine the visual output. This process allows music theory to be the core of the control structure, however musical form is not a factor allowing anyone to have the full experience, not just musicians. Music theory is the control, play is the vehicle, and visual/emotional response is the feedback system.
Arboration is a physical musical keyboard constructed from finished, laser-etched plywood and custom cut copper plates attached to an arduino which is detecting key playing events with capacitive sensing. The data is collected and parsed by processing and sent via OSC to MAX/MSP, Ableton and Unity3D.
Arboration was created by Mike Allison, Michelle Cortese and FangYu Yang as a midterm for Physical Computing Fall 2012.