Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cybraphon : Autonomous Robot Band




Blimpcast favourites, the amazing Edinburgh musical collective FOUND have built something. 

It's an autonomous robot band, but one that composes music according to how it's feeling, which is directly linked in to what people are saying about it on the internet. 

Emotion Meter

Emotion Meter

Cybraphon consists of a number of instruments, antique machinery, and found objects from junk shops operated by over 60 robotic components, all housed in a modified wardrobe. Its emotions are shown on a 100 year old school galvanometer; a motor-driven crank drives the bellows of an Indian classical instrument modified with 13 robotic servos; a switched fan pumps air through a Farfisa organ retro-fitted with robotic keys; 12 chimes are struck by suspended solenoids; numerous percussion instruments are hit by beaters attached to motors, including a cigar box with an integral spring “reverb”; and a purpose made vinyl record is cued robotically to play through antique brass gramophone horns. In addition to these musical components, Cybraphon has several internal light sources that are controlled on four fader channels, and infra-red motion detectors to monitor people watching it.

Shruti Box with wires

Shruti Box with wires

All these elements are controlled by a hidden computer via MIDI, DMX, and Arduino boards. And wire. Lots and lots of wire.

The computer runs custom software (coded in Python and MAX/MSP) to monitor the web and update Cybraphon’s emotions according to the rate at which its popularity is changing over time. All mentions of Cybraphon online that are indexed by Google are noted, as well as activity on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, MySpace, etc.

A review in a local newspaper, for example, will almost certainly radically change the mood of the installation – and hence the music it plays – soon after it appears. However, Cybraphon is an insecure, egotistical band. A good review will cheer it up in the short term, but once the initial excitement dies down it will soon become disillusioned if its fame does not continue to increase…


Cybraphon Demo Song from Cybraphon on Vimeo.

This reminds me of Marvin the paranoid android from Hitchhikers Guide, and I fully intend to visit the Cybraphon on my forthcoming jaunt to Edinburgh, hopefully then I can post a good review to cheer up the single minded and fame hungry curio. 

For more info go to the Cybraphon website  or to the Inspace Gallery in Edinburgh on Crichton Street. 

Found have loads of amazing free music via their website here


Episode #10.1: FOUND (feat. Cybraphon) - "You're No Vincent Gallo" from Off The Beaten Tracks on Vimeo.

12 comments:

ToffeeBoy said...

Right, that's it. I'm definitely taking up the banjo. That instrument can do no wrong!

And talking of jaunts to Edinburgh, anyone fancy a mini-Scottish RR social this October? I'll be in Auld Reekie for a few days in October.

Blimpy said...

I am loving the banjo too, mebbe i should also take it up! WHat a good idea!!

As for a very-close-to-me social - I suddenyl have the fear. what about my mystique?!

ToffeeBoy said...

Oh, alright then blimpy, we'll hold in 'your' Mystique if you insist. But if your mate Mick turns up, I'm off. OK?

ToffeeBoy said...

... hold it ... hold it, for god's sake!

Japanther said...

I LOVED this Blimpy - the concept, the machine and the sound. I'm not sure how they "programmed" that demo song, but I what a great tune!

Blimpy said...

careful what you say Japanther - it may cheer Cybraphon up a bit too much!!

Check out Cybraphon's twtter feed:

I am feeling: delirium
about 6 hours ago from API
I am feeling: jubilation
about 6 hours ago from API
I am feeling: rapture
about 6 hours ago from API
I am feeling: bliss
about 6 hours ago from API
I am feeling: contentment
about 6 hours ago from API
I am feeling: indifference
about 6 hours ago from API
I am feeling: dismay
about 6 hours ago from API
I am feeling: speechless
about 22 hours ago from web
I am feeling: gloom
5:38 AM Aug 6th from API
I am feeling: dejection
4:41 AM Aug 6th from API
I am feeling: desolation
4:09 AM Aug 6th from API
I am feeling: dismay
3:40 AM Aug 6th from API
I am feeling: indifference
8:55 PM Aug 5th from API
I am feeling: dismay
10:14 AM Aug 5th from API
I am feeling: indifference
7:20 AM Aug 5th from API
I am feeling: contentment
5:51 AM Aug 5th from API
I am feeling: bliss
3:57 AM Aug 5th from API
I am feeling: indifference
8:12 AM Aug 4th from API
I am feeling: desolation
8:08 AM Aug 4th from API
I am feeling: indifference
7:55 AM Aug 4th from API

Blimpy said...

i like that it's housed in an old wardrobe the most.

ToffeeBoy said...

I like the music but as blimpy says, it's the setting that's really magical. It's a thing of beauty.

DarceysDad said...

V. intrigued by this, but DsGran's internet connection won't support listening to anything.

Re a Scottish Social, I'll start working on potential East Scots customers ...

;o)

SatanKidneyPie said...

I heard about this a couple of weeks ago when Found were on Mark Radcliffe's show on Radio 2. They mentioned the Cybraphon and I thought about doing a post about it, but never got round to it, crap Spiller that I am.

It's an amazing invention and wierdly hypnotic.

steenbeck said...

I love this! It's beautiful. It's like something out of, I don't know, City of Lost Children...

Blimpy said...

I went to see the Cybraphon yesterday, but the gallery was bloody closed (only open weds to sunday) - I was really bloody disappointed.

And what did I see through the windows? That's right - members of FOUND lounging around the Cybraphon - IN CAHOOTS!

FOUND are supposed to be having a face-off show vs the machine on Thursday (sold out) but I'm now starting to think that IT"S ALL A SHAM!!!

japanther -if yo want an mp3 of the song go to

http://songbytoad.com/2009/08/notes-from-a-small-red-car/