The Library of Technical Elements.

The Library of Technical Elements.

The IIL library of technical elements.
By Thor Magnusson, Jack Armitage, and Halldor Ulfarsson and Sean O'Brien

At the Intelligent Instruments Lab we consider our lab an experimental system where lab members and collaborators design experiments and build prototypes in an ad-hoc manner. We build our theories of human-AI creativity on encounters with objects that serve as our technical, experiential and discursive foci. We seek to maintain an environment where the lab itself becomes a machine for experimentation, where technical elements are ready-at-hand for the assemblage of protypes and demos to quickly generate and explore ideas. Thus we see musical processes and works take shape through technical creation. For us, to think musically is to operate with elements external to our mind: thinking is social and the social is technical.

When we arrived at the Iceland University of the Arts, at the start of the project, we designed our furniture as modular structures that can be turned into instruments or serve as extensions of existing instruments. Strings can be strung on modular tables and shelves, sensors mounted on artificial arms, and actuators and motors set into motion for sound generation or haptic feedback. The library of technical elements is a key part of our lab infrastructure: it exists on a wall in the lab, where sensors, microcomputers and actuators of all sorts can be quickly assembled into an intelligent system, a new musical instrument.

We have built this system with the aim of doing quick experiments where we invite visiting researchers, musicians and students to work with us and help us to answer our research questions. Discussing new ways of doing intelligent instruments with people outside our lab is a key research method for us. Please get in touch with us throug our Collaboration Page if you would like to discuss an idea or visit us.

The Organolib has a theoretical underpinning in Magnusson’s Musical Organics article (Open Access).

A picture of the Organolib with the library of technical elements

The library of technical elements.