Valse Automatique is a design performance made to illustrate the symbiosis between humans and technology by translating music to form over the use of a KUKA industrial robot.
This project explores how data from computational musical anaylsis can be used to create objects as ›fingerprints‹ of a musical score in the context of an industrial manufacturing process. For this purpose Mihalj »MIKI« Kekenj composed and performed five variations of a waltz theme created specifically for the event at MADE — a platform for creative people from different disciplines in the heart of Berlin.
Invited to the project by Hermann Weizenegger and MADE in Berlin, we have designed an interface and generative design principle according to which objects were live-manufactured during the performance. In a first manufacturing process, the robot milled these objects from wax giving them a finish in the second process using a bunsen burner. Wax was chosen as a base material since it allowed rapid manufacturing during the performance and provided the option to cast the objects in many different materials later in the process.
We had the pleasure of working together with Chris Jeffs, a musician and computational artist based in Berlin, who was responsible for the music analyis in SuperCollider. Additionally, Wolf Deiss and Roman Kühnert of artis GmbH joined the team to plan and operate the KUKA setup and manufacturing process.
Process & Design Tools
An initial design iteration based on MIKI’s first draft of the composition was carried out using Processing/Java in combination with various 3D mesh libraries (Hemesh et al.). These early sketches provided a basic set of formal rules for evaluation with the team from artis GmbH and HAW. As a result, this first test made it clear very quickly, that we would need more accurate data for manufacturing due to the requirements of the robot and its related software tools.
We have then started to use a combination of Rhino/Grasshopper with some custom scripting in order to read in the music analysis data from Chris’s software in SuperCollider. In the end, we tweaked the movement of the robot with KUKA’s own programming language (KRL — KUKA Robot Language).
Direction: Matthias Maercks