The Brain Opera sensor chair in performance with Tod Machover and the Sprit Chair system in performance with Penn Gillette
We have used the Sensor Chair in several different musical performances, mapping the motion of hands and feet into various musical effects that trigger, modify, and conduct electronic sound sources. Three video clips are posted here. The first (3 MEG MPEG) shows the magician Teller's first encounter with our original prototype chair system, as set up in the Physics and Media Lab during August of 1994. He is seen exploring a simple mapping of piano notes that undergraduate Pete Rice set up as a test. This led to the second video clip (2.8 MEG MPEG), showing Teller performing the actual piece of music that Tod Machover wrote for him, where the perfected chair is controlling a Yamaha Disclavier MIDI player piano; this was taken at the chair's public debut the Digital Expression symposium in Kresge Auditorium at MIT on October 20, 1994. The third video clip (3.4 MEG MPEG) shows Penn Jillette performing excerpts of a sensor chair solo written by Tod Machover, again at the Digital Expression symposium. In the first portion, he triggers notes when his hand moves forward, changing their timbre as the hand moves side-to-side. In the second portion, he plays a drum solo, triggering different percussive sounds as he moves his hands, with kick drums on his feet. The third portion also shows timbre control derived from hand position. The sensor chair was designed by Joe Paradiso and built by Ed Hammond and Rick Ciliberto, with musical software written by Eran Egozy and Pete Rice.