What do you get when you team a brilliant artist who is “obsessed with bringing the digital into the physical world, and the physical into the digital world” with a 3D designer, teacher, ‘maker,’ and technology integration expert? Well, if those two individuals are Isaac Budmen and Josh Ajima, you get what is being called a 3D Printed Interactive Art Synthesizer.
A device which combines unique sounds with an art canvas that displays various colored lights, the Interactive Art Synthesizer allows its user to create an art form like none they have experienced before.
“[The] project started a few months ago when Josh (Ajima) reached out to me with a prototype interface he created using the MaKey MaKey to change colors on a 2×2 pixel grid, each time a color changed it would play a sound,” said Budmen. “The idea was to create a project that could be interacted with to create multiple permutations of an existing work of art. My work in paint explores intersections by reducing the interplay of light, physical media and environmental constructs down to structural compositions consisting mainly of lines.”
Budmen, the author of The Book on 3D Printing, also specializes in creating paintings which include plenty of rigid geometry, and his piece called “Perceptive Transition” made for the perfect candidate for this project because of the intersecting colored lines that it featured.
“After developing and testing several color palette variations and multiple soundscapes for the piece we settled on the version we have now,” Budmen tells us. “From there we began the work to create a 3D printed controller that we could embed a MaKey MaKey in to interface with the art. We were both drawn to the idea of creating a crystalline structure as the controller, it seemed to show off the potential of 3D printing to create something real from one’s imagination in just the right way.”
Printed on a MakerBot 3D printer, the way that this 3D printed crystal art synthesizer works is that when someone approaches it, they are greeted with an ethereal hum, and projected black canvas. When the tops of the various crystals are touched, colors are displayed in lines across the black canvas in an almost identical fashion as seen in Budmen’s “Perceptive Transition” piece. Each touch displays a new colored line that appears on the canvas, along with the sound of a chime which is “somewhere between fantasy and reality.”
“My initial motivation for developing the Interactive Art Synthesizer was to actively engage an audience in creating a work using the new tools of the maker movement; physical computing, programming and digital fabrication,” Josh Ajima tells 3DPrint.com. “I had seen the MaKey MaKey at conferences and maker events being used as a piano keyboard. I felt that the MaKey MaKey could be pushed to create an even more engaging experience by incorporating programming in Scratch to show visual elements and allowing for new interfaces through 3D printing.”
Ajima came across Budmen’s painting on Instagram, and thought that it would make for the perfect piece to go along with his unique project, as it would allow participants to use the basic art form to create their own new version of the work.
Ajima is currently a high school technology resource teacher and he looks forward to displaying the Interactive Art Synthesizer at the Virginia Society for Technology in Education conference next week. “Some takeaways about the project for educators is the affordability and ease of use of the tools used to create the piece and the power of collaboration,” says Ajima. “[I] Really enjoyed how easy it was for Isaac to share the STL files which allowed me to print my own copy of his awesome controller.”
While there are no demonstration videos of the synthesizer just yet, if you are interested in seeing how it works, an example can be played with via the Scratch programming language website. Using the arrow and WASD keys on your computer keyboard, you can control the lights and sounds in the same way as the crystal does in the 3D printed version.
What do you think about this unique, yet quite brilliant piece of art, that wouldn’t be possible without 3D printing and other modern-day technologies? Discuss in the 3D Printed Interactive Art Synthesizer forum thread on 3DPB.com.