Decoded: A Design Hack At Music Hack Day Sydney

960px-01_graph.JPG

Decoded is a tribute to a West African music artist called Fela Kuti, made in 24 hours during Music Hack Day Sydney. The goal was to get away from the digital screen and make something that you could touch and feel. 

Data from several music APIs were converted back into analog form by making turntables, iPads, iPhones and a laptop out of paper, steel, foam, and cardboard. Most of the materials used were collected from a Sydney recycling junkyard the previous day.

 

music hack day sydney.jpeg

Converting digital to analog: the turntables are connected to each other based on musical relatedness between each record, using similarity data from the Echo Nest API. This makes a music graph, with the vinyl being the nodes. Various bits of metadata are printed onto the iOS devices including colour images (from the Last.fm API), raw JSON for lyrics (from the Musixmatch API), and the artist biography (from the Rovi API).

 

960px-03_laptop.JPG

Macbook Pro made with folded white foamboard for the body, and a quick Photoshop design printed on paper to make the black screen and text, all using a $40 colour printer. The turntables, iPhones and iPads were constructed in the same way (each device was measured, cut out, glued together, folded up to make the shape, and then images or code printed out and stuck on top).

 

960px-04_needle.JPG

Analog music playback comes via a sewing needle attached to a paper cone, so you can hear some scratchy, warping, distorted Fela.

 

960px-05_playing.JPG

Tricky! Getting the turntable playback speed and needle angle correct is like climbing Mt Everest.