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08. 06. 2005

TENORI-ON

I've spent the last week at Siggraph 2005 in Los Angeles, CA. During the time I was there I've seen quite a few cool and exciting projects and met even more interesting people. Over the next days I'll be posting my commentary and reviews of things that caught my attention.

High on my list is TENORI-ON, a new musical instrument by media artist Toshio Iwai and Yamaha. As part of the Emerging Technologies section of the conference, TENORI-ON was an overwhelming crowd pleaser. The device is comprised of a 16x16 matrix of LED-illuminated switches contained in a tablet-like square. Pressing any one of the switches for a short time creates a rippling light effect which corresponds to a chosen sound. When held down for a longer period the light dot remains on the panel and loops the light effect and sound. From these simple behaviors more complex compositions can be constructed, creating elaborate and beautiful ambient soundscapes. Perhaps the best thing about being at the Emerging Technologies exhibition was the ability to see firsthand just how beautiful and intuitive TENORI-ON really is. Second best was the opportunity to discuss the project with the artist Toshio Iwai himself, who was on-hand to demo the device. The amount of time and consideration he gave to each visitor of the booth was impressive, and I came away smitten, not only with the stunning object being presented, but also with the creator.

A few interesting tidbits he shared which are hinted at on the TENORI-ON website are future plans to include remote connectivity and collaborative capabilities to the device. A few scenarios Iwai suggested included hanging the TENORI-ON in a living area, providing a decorative and ambient sound and light display, driven by unseen musical performers, or using the TENORI-ON for music performances to replace the sterile visuals of an electronic musician hunched in front of a laptop. Iwai was hopeful that within a year we might see TENORI-ON on the market. I'll certainly be waiting!

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