I hadn’t touched a piano since the age of 14 (after playing for nine years). A friend of mine left the country and offered me his piano as a long-term loan. Sitting and staring at it, I had the desire to take this perfectly evolved, manual, massive, traditional musical instrument and add a visual dimension to it.
The idea was simple: I wanted every key of the piano to activate a visual interaction in addition to its sound (without damaging my friend’s piano). I opened up the piano and started digging. The research and work on the project took several months. With the help of friends and specialists from different fields, I developed a mechanical device implanted inside the piano. A system of switches in strategic points turned on by the touch of the keys. The electric signals, translated by the computer, are projected as colors, shapes and images on to screens around the piano.
To test this first prototype of the Piano Visual Bar (P.V.B), I invited friends and musicians for ‘jamming’ sessions with it. I was very excited to see their reactions. The P.V.B. directed their playing and created an interaction between the music that they played and the shapes that were screened. The players tried to control the patterns and images. After giving consideration to some of the musician’s insights, I am now adjusting the P.V.B. to fit their needs better. I’m working on the inner logic of the images that will better reflect the piano’s structure.
One of my main motives for inventing the P.V.B. was to add an element of fun and playfulness to something that for me is associated with hours of dull repetition, practicing scales. In an environment mainly designed for efficiency, fun and playfulness are often unfairly regarded as unimportant. I wanted to bring back ‘play’ to my adult life.
Nowadays, design does much more than just determine the visual aspect of things. A great effort of design focuses on looking with a fresh eye on regular ‘things’ in the reality that surrounds us. Trying to rethink and change them into something that relates better to the person using them in a more playful way, which allows the user to influence and determine the use.
Key moments in the long journey of concept and development.
Camera: Daniel Morgan, Tamar Tal
Piano: Amit Dolberg
Frank Henne, Itamar Shimshony
R & D
Shachar Geiger, Mor Lasry, Oz Malul