The Bodycoder System: A Wireless Sensor Suit for Real-Time Control and Manipulation of Sound and Images


Session Title:

  • Short Paper Presentations

Presentation Title:

  • The Bodycoder System: A Wireless Sensor Suit for Real-Time Control and Manipulation of Sound and Images



  • “Bodycoder … opens a domain of cyborg art that exceeds the human without simply rejecting it.”
    -Drew Hemment – for MUTE

    Bodycoder II is a complex system which, in addition to it’s on-the-body sensors, has a custom built vocal cavity microphone which enables the real-time sampling and manipulation of vocalisations by the performer Like the original Bodycoder System the aim was to create a new performance mechanism using the movements of the performer to affect and control audio and visual compositional material. The new system takes this aim one step further by allowing movement to control the sampling and manipulation of vocalisations. In other words the system allows vocal qualities to be amplified through body movement. This project intentionally challenges conventional notions concerning the nature of body language.

    The brief was to design a system which would interface with the kinetic qualities of dance. In order to enhance and not limit the mobility of the dancer a 35MHz radio transmitter/receiver system, more commonly used for model aircraft, was employed. The transmitter was customised to accept proportional and/or switched inputs. An interface was designed and built to convert the PPM signals from the receiver to 8 discrete analogue voltages, these voltages were connected to a customised PC1600 Midi Controller.

    The Midi output from the PC 1600 is connected to 2 Macintosh Computers running Opcode’s StudioVision Pro program and Steinberg’s X<>Pose visual>sampling software.
    The StudioVision Pro program is used to hold several sequences mainly carrying patch change information for the PC1600 to recall setup strings to map the various inputs to sound modification parameters of audio samples held in a 128Mb EMu Sampler. The samples are triggered by the performer and extensively changed by utilising the real time filter morphing facilities and ‘cord’ system of modulation routings of the E4X sampler.

    The X<>Pose software is used to hold several patches of stored Picts and QuickTime movies to be recalled and affected in real-time. Midi controller signals from the PC1600 manipulate and affect these images in direct response to the actions of the performer.

    A second radio transmitter is employed to transmit vocal sounds from the performer to an SE70 digital effects processor, these ‘effected’ vocalisations are again controlled and modified in real-time by the movements of the performer. Ring modulation and vocoding patches are designed to respond to the sensor control signals from the PC1600. A vocal cavity microphone is used in order to transmit the vocal signals to the sound processor.

    The sound palettes used in this piece comprised of a variety of Electroacoustic samples of throat and overtone singing which are then re-authored using various computer based processes including Sound Designer II , Alchemy and Hyperprism. The performers vocalisations are processed live, this sets up an on-the-body dialogue between movement and voice which is expressed as a complex off-the-body multi-timbral, multi-layered audio/visual performance.