Soft^Articulations is a project inspired by retrofuturism and the idea of creating a soft exoskeleton that translates muscle articulations into sound. The project proposes the creation of wearable system that using handmade bend sensors on various muscle joints wishes to explore the dipole relation between the actions of relax and tense both physically and sonically.

The wearable prototype was conceptualized and developed during a ten day residency on May 2014 at IAAC (Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia) and Fab Lab Barcelona, curated by textile department co-ordinator Anastasia Pistofidou, part of the research project EASTN (European Art Science and Technology Network).

Performer in the demo video: Lydia Kampournioti
Video and sound editing: Sophie Adelt

The interactive bodysuit's design focuses on modularity and the idea that during the performance, the performer can add or remove the sensors, playing with the sound qualities that each sensor represents. The looseness of the suit on the neck and on the hips is inspired by the work of pioneer contemporary dance choreographer Martha Graham and her piece Lamentation, which features a stretch cylinder garment. The suit becomes tighter close to the sensor joints transforming into a second skin. The cutouts permit a look to the body's interior and the sensors represent the muscle joints.

The bodysuit consists of a white cotton-lycra elastic bodysuit of five different pieces and four neoprene bend sensors that have been custom-made and are wrapped with an elastic vinyl flesh colored fabric. The prototype was created with the valuable help of fashion designer Claudio Marzá Compte.

Performer in the photos: Angeliki Hatzi

The sensors design is based on the open hardware Neoprene Bend Sensor by Plusea, customized to the desired form and slightly modified so that both connections - power (vcc) and ground (gnd) are connected to snaps facing to the upper part of the sensor so they can be easily attached and de-attached.

The sensor requieres a pull-up resistor in order to work properly. For this project I am using the LilyPad' s internal pull-up resistor directly declaring it in the Arduino code, using the pinMode(sensorPin, INPUT_PULLUP) command.

For more info on the code visit the GITHUB repository:

Hardware used for this project:
LilyPad Arduino 328 Main Board
LilyPad XBee Shield
LilyPad Simple Power Switch
3.7V Li-Po Battery
High Conductivity Silver Plated Nylon Thread 117/17 2ply
Adhesive Conducting Fabric (ACF)
Handmade Neoprene Bend Sensors

Arduino to read the sensor's values
SuperCollider for the sound synthesis (not implemented yet)

Creative Commons License