Soft Revolvers with Myriam Bleau

Soft Revolvers is a music performance for four clear acrylic spinning tops designed and built by the artist.

Each top, 25 cm in diameter, is associated with an “instrument” in an electronic music composition. The tops are equipped with gyroscopes and accelerometers that communicate wirelessly with a computer. The motion data collected (speed, unsteadiness at the end of a spin, acceleration spikes in case of collisions) informs musical algorithms and controls custom sequencers designed in Pure Data. LEDs inside the tops illuminate the body of the objects in a precise counterpoint to the music, creating stunning spinning halos. With their large circular spinning bodies and their role as music-playing devices, the spinning-top interfaces strongly evoke turntables and hip hop culture. Some of the mappings between gestures and sound have been borrowed directly from the bimodal behavior of turntables: at slow speeds the sounds produced can remind of scratch solos, with the characteristic unstable pitch variations. At full speed, the spinning tops act like normal turntables playing vinyls, in this case playing pre-composed material.