Aural costume - Sonic identity and soundscape design for an interactive costume

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Master's Programme in New Media
The topic of this thesis is a science fiction influenced aural costume. The work is a result of an artistic collaboration project between a sound designer and a costume designer. The aim of the collaboration was to investigate new possibilities of implementing sound into a costume or a wearable piece of clothing. The emphasis of this project was on artistic expression rather than creating new technological solutions for the market. The work’s focus was on the question of what if future technologies could enable us to connect the human body with the rest of the surrounding biosphere such as animals, plants, or other organisms. Could these possible advancements enable people to become part of a new entity? The project examined how this possible connection could be simulated or be represented using wearable technology and how sound could enhance the narrative and performative aspects of a costume. Themes of the work are symbiosis and synchronisation of the costume and its user. The challenge was to find and implement solutions that would enable and emphasise this symbiosis. This thesis approaches these challenges from two different perspectives: through interaction design and sound design practices. The thesis describes the costume prototype’s design process and how it influenced the composed sound attributes of the costume. The research explores soundscape design techniques and how they can be applied when composing music for an installation. The team designed specific user scenarios to help them define the user needs for the hardware. This thesis explains the reasons why certain interaction methods were selected and what were their advantages. The practical part of the thesis explains how Ableton Live can be used in an interactive way in a installation and how its features can be utilised to connect it with external hardware such as sensors. The testing sessions showed that the intended interactions were understandable, and the introduced illusion of transformative states was effective. The supporting storyline was seen to bring a desired meaning for the interactions and events produced in the installation. The thesis documents how the idea of a symbiosis was presented with an interactive prototype and how a fictional short film was produced to visualise the ideas behind the installation.
Ikonen, Antti
Thesis advisor
Ikonen, Antti
soundscape, interaction design, costume design, Ableton Live, sensors, Arduino
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