embodied gestures
sculpting sonic expression into musical artifacts

Institute for Media Studies – University of Art and Design Linz and
Institute for Technology Assessment & Design (TU Wien)
in collaboration with IRCAM, STEIM, Goldsmiths and Sussex University

FWF Project AR399-G24 – Programm zur Entwicklung und Erschließung der Künste (PEEK)


The aim of this artistic-research project is the development of a new paradigm of interfaces for musical expression especially designed to emphasize a performer’s gestural embodiment within an instrument. For that, “embodied gestures” explores the possibilities of shaping the physical affordances of designed digital instruments with the intention of inspiring particular forms of gesturality. Specifically, our objective is studying the implications of designing musical interfaces which can afford the same type of gesturality that a particular sound inspires.

For instance, in order to control a sound passage composed from the circulation of “elastic” sonic movements in space, we will design musical interfaces which will afford by themselves, and through their physical affordances, similar “elastic” physical gestures to their performers. This process will be repeated for a number of gestures included in a typo-morphology of gestural archetypes which will be created specifically for “embodied gestures”.

Escaping from the paradigm of “one electronic instrument for all”, our purpose is the creation of ensembles of “embodied-gestures instruments” where each instrument is dedicated to the sonic exploration of the design space of a very specific sonic gesture. We are convinced that through this innovative approach, we can enhance the artistic communication between performer and music, but also among performers on stage and with their audiences through the live engagement.

The project’s point of departure originated with the question of how can we better embody our musical intentionalities into digital interfaces. And the crucial question at the outset of this project deals with finding successful ways of shaping the affordances of specific objects for suggesting particular body gestures. Taking this problem into consideration, we have planned a methodology based on user-studies and experiential
evaluation which will help us to identify according design patterns.

Together with the support of an exceptional international advisory-board (IRCAM,STEIM, Goldsmiths, Sussex), the project will result in the creation of ensembles of “embodied gestures” interfaces, a bundle of compositions, and a compelling and reviewed number of publications documenting the possibilities of rendering musical intentions into physical features. These results can produce a relevant impact in the field of digital instrumentalities, composition with new technologies and musical education.