The definition of a musical instrument has been in flux for the past decade or two, with the advent of technology allowing us to control sound in innovative new ways. You can assign any action or physical manipulation to control any parameter of a sound, inventing a new instrument all together. That means that the practical idea of what is considered an instrument goes out the window and even a piece of cloth can be an instrument.
That’s the thought behind Luiz Zanotello’s Nama, an installation consisting of a piece of fabric outfitted with the textile-specific LilyPad Arduino, accelerometers, and conductive thread that controls the audio as well as the visualizations projected onto three screens. The sound and projections are “played” and manipulated by contorting the cloth, bending it, wringing it, and even spinning it over your head “like a helicopter,” as one Peter Pablo suggested so many years ago.
The cloth interface and sepia tone of Nama gives it a rustic feel, masking the breadboards and wires and allowing the user to focus directly on the experience, one that seems derived from some ancient magic buried in the desert.
Zanotello also put together the video below explaining how the instrument works in more depth.