The 26th BCS Conference on Human Computer Interaction (HCI)
Human Computer Interaction
12 - 14 September 2012
In this paper we present Thawing Colours, a tactile, visual and sonic installation, which uses suspended spheres of melting ice to paint on surfaces, woollen strings to provide a means of interaction, and concatenative synthesis–the stitching together of many small fragments of sound–to provide a digitally mediated response to motion and vibration by resynthesizing the input sound using a corpus of pre-prepared sounds. In one sense, it is an evolving, site-specific physical installation, a painter or designer that produces images over the course of several days. With some intellectual license, it can be taken as a naturalistic interface for querying a database of sounds, or as a particularly large and unwieldy musical instrument. It is literally a fuzzy interface, with boundaries extending out through the fibres of the woollen strands used to attach coloured balls of ice, and through the supporting cables into the foundations of the building, and through the fingers, palms, and bodies of the participants. We argue that there is a niche for interfaces that are whimsical, ludic and exploratory, and that as part of exploring this niche, we can take an ecosystemic view on interfaces: embracing their physical properties, their situation in an environment, and the byproducts and feedbacks therein.