loopqoob is a physical performance system consisting of one or more sensor-equipped cubes connected to a computer based music generation/synthesis system. The orientation of the cubes determines an aspect of the music to be played.
In the implementation presented, there are three cubes. Each face of each cube is mapped to a musical motif or loop. The 'cubist' controls which motifs are played by orienting the cubes so that the face corresponding to the desired motif faces up.
In late 2001, I was watching a video of a live performance by Icelandic post-rock quartet Sigur Ros on the internet. The video was severely compressed and artifacts due to the compression were plainly visible. At one point, the camera cut to an angle showing the keyboard from just over and behind the keyboard player's shoulder. Because of the block-pixel nature of the heavy video compression artifacts, it appeared to me for a moment that the keyboard player was making sounds by manipulating a heap of white cubes. That image has stayed with me.
loopqoob is an exploration of the areas of 'near instruments', 'plastic playback', and physical computing. It is intended to be a playful and amusing way to play with or perform music. It should also be interesting to watch. Like scanjam, it makes the performance of loop-based electronic music observable in a potentially dramatic and physical way, but unlike scanjam, is more distinctly physical. In many ways, loopqoob follows on from Dominic Robson's Piano Cubes, though while Robson was investigating ways for non-musicians to make music, I am using music as a context in which to investigate physical interfaces.
I chose the cube shape because cubes have some 'nice' properties:
- geometrically pleasing
- six distinct faces
- no default orientation (no face dominates, no axis dominates)
- easily understood (everyone knows what a cube is, only geometry fetishists understand a rhombus)