Matthew Halpenny is an intermedia artist living in Montreal, QC. After studying biology at the University of Ottawa for four years, they developed a strong interest in systems biology and neurology. Wanting to continue their research in high order natural systems, they transitioned to Concordia University’s Computational Arts program where they focus on cybernetic principles of human/machine relations, feedback, and control systems within electronic systems. While learning these principles in the context of electronic systems, their projects often aim to incorporate natural systems within these electronic ones creating a symbiosis between the two systems. The focus of these projects often revolves around sound design and music creation.
Conductivity is a wearable technology project created in adjunction with the Sensor Lab at Concordia. The project seeks to eliminate the need for artists to perform behind their laptops by introducing a wearable glove that can control third party programs. Conductivity Gloves relies on a cybernetic feedback loop between user and instrument, which work in tandem. The music cannot be created without user movement and interactivity, but without the machine there would be no music at all. They must work together to create a piece, adjusting their movements to fit the desired effects. Drawing from live instrumental performances the glove imbues the user with a unique style of performance similar to classical instrumentation. Each performance and each user will create a unique style every time they perform. Although assisted by computation, the performance more heavily relies on gestural expressionism than automated sound. For this project, the glove was hard-coded in Arduino using an Adafruit Flora microcontroller. The microcontroller passes a range of 12 sensor readings to the program Max for further interpretation. Each of these sensor values is controlled by the wearers position in the space surrounding them. The sensors monitor the hands position and acceleration in the XYZ axis, rotational axis, and NESW directionality. The user also has control of three sensors connected to the gloves fingers in which they may modulate to their desire. On the Max side a wavetable/FM synthesizer has been coded to receive input. A multitude of effects have also been coded in which allow the user to control modulation of sound live with movement.