A Design Workshop with the Touch Board

ECAL is one of Switzerland’s leading schools of art and design. In 2018, visiting lecturer, Béatrice Lartigue, lead a workshop using the Touch Board. Béatrice is an artist with 10 years of experience and together with friends, she set up Lab212.org, a collective of designers and makers that create interactive installations for museums and events. It was within her role at lab212 that she was invited to ECAL to run an interactive workshop with the students over one week.

The overall goal of the session was to create installations, with the theme being “to make the invisible, visible”. After each participant learned about different signals and got familiar with the Touch Board for the first two days, the students had 3 days to work on their idea and prototype. The students were given Touch Board Starter Kits and Pro Kits as well as other materials to work with, such as LEDs, relays, and projectors.

One of the resulting projects is the “MIDI Box” by Sébastien Galera Larios and Valerio Meschi. They used the Touch Board and copper tape to create a form of music box. The crank would spin a pattern of copper tape that interacts with the electrodes of the Touch Board. The Touch Board in turn is connected to an iPad that is running Ableton Live, digital audio workstation. The students worked with one of their musician friends, who composed a song for the workshop. When the copper touches an electrode, the Touch Board sends a MIDI signal to the iPad, triggering a sound.

The second product was “The Sound of Planets” by Malik Sobgoui and Basil Dénéréaz. This project is a combination of generating sounds and using projection mapping by using the proximity feature of the Touch Board. When the user approaches the surface, the surface acts as an interface to replicate a theremin, playing the theremin sounds. Simultaneously, the Touch Board is sending signals to a projection mapping software to change the animation that is projected onto the surface. They interfaced the Touch Board with Ableton Live to play the theremin and with MadMapper for the projection mapping.

In the end, the workshop participants were encouraged to showcase their results to the school. Since running the workshop, each student has graduated and has started their own designer career. Béatrice has since run more workshops and has created installations as part of lab212.

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