‘Momentum’ Transforms the Body into an Interactive Sea of Particles


Johannes Hausen. THE CREATORS PROJECT. 25/11/14


Berlin-based interaction design studio Schnellebuntebilder are masters when it comes to transforming physical movements into stunning visuals. With MOMENTUM, they’ve teamed up with sound designers Kling Klang Klong to create “a synaesthetic experiences of sounds and visuals generated real-time from body movement,” according to Schnellebuntebilder’s Magdalena Eder.

MOMENTUM, which transforms the user into a sea of digital particles, consists of “several blocks with different functions called nodes,” explained Schnellebuntebilder’s John Timpernagel. “There is a node that controls the Kinect2, created from the RGB data and infrared image of the dancer. From that data, [MOMENTUM] creates point-clouds that capture the depth of various points in space.”

“We connect the data to a graphical system which puts the dancers’ particles in motion. A hand movement to the right can push them [the particles] to the right, for example,” Timpernagel went on.

This level of visual “momentum” is the project’s second layer, however. Originally, MOMENTUM could only link movements to sounds and sound dynamics, which came from Kling Klang Klong. Based on the readouts of data points, paramaters were mapped to dancers’ entire bodies. Quick hand movements could trigger wind noise, for example. Making one’s self small by squatting on the floor could induce a low-cut filter.

The soundscape consists of several layers. The first, a pre-produced track, forms MOMENTUM’s musical backbone upon which the other layers are generated in real time. Parameters such as pitch can change over the course of the dancer’s interactions.

Based on the generated sounds, the body’s movements are also transformed into colorful images. “We had the data already, anyway, so now we could make nice visuals. MOMENTUM’s first graphical interface was relatively ugly—now, we’ve connected the particle system to the data,” Timpernagel told The Creators Project.

The results look like flowing, colorful virtual reality creatures who exist in 3D space. It’s a synesthetic experience of liquid forms and sounds that allow users to control and manipulate dynamic models with their own bodies.

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