week 1
1.1. Me
I'm Christos, a 23 year old Creative Technologist and audiovisual artist from Cyprus. I often work on various art installations, live performances and audiovisual mixes.
1.2. Me + Tinkering
Since most of my projects involve live audio and video composition I often find myself tinkering with various software and hardware to come up with my own systems that give me the freedom and flexibility to express my ideas in an efficient way. Through the Mastering Tinkering course I hope to approach my usual design process in a more methodical and critical manner which would hopefully allow me to gain deeper knowledge on the art of tinkering and lead me to utilize it in a more efficient way!
1.3. The plan
My plan during this course is to use the weekly assignments and material to develop DVJ1, a modular audiovisual instrument. The "building block" philosophy will apply directly to my idea since I intent to develop modules or "blocks" that together form the DVJ1. In this project I view tinkering to be a more informed and methodical form of trial & error, and in a broader sense to be a form of prototyping which is what I hope to have by the end of this course : the minimum viable prototype of DVJ1.


My workstation

1.4. Questions
At this stage here are 5 potential technical challenges that I identified:
1) Affordability: The building blocks need to be affordable. This is a challenge since most traditional audiovisual equipment is relatively expensive MIDI devices
2) OSC/MIDI support: OSC/MIDI are the "languages" which most audiovisual software use to communicate commands and actions, therefore building blocks that support them are crucial.
3) Form factor: The instrument has to be made out of easily transportable and not take too much space blocks since I'm often traveling and performing in tight spaces
4) Connectivity: The modules that make up the device should be able to connect easily with eachother
5) Ergonomics/UX: The modules and by extension DVJ1 should be easy and intuitive to use
Ideally the building blocks should address each challenge.
1.5. Tinkerspiration
The following projects will be used as inspiration when designing my own audiovisual instrument:
- Daft punk's "Alive 2007" setup : In 2007 Daft Punk performed an audiovisual show live in Coachella. Although still cryptic, year by year more details are revealed about their setup and process.
- EboSuite: Created by Eboman, a seasoned dutch live audiovisual artist, Ebosuite is an add-on pack for Ableton Live which turns it from a music production software to a digital audiovisual instrument that lets you mix graphics and sounds seamlessly.
- BLOCK SYSTEM : For my bachelor thesis I worked on BLOCK SYSTEM, a research on immersion, interaction and remoteness of a live audiovisual performance. The final prototype also featured experimental audiovisual interaction which can act as direct inspiration for the current project!
The common point between the projects mentioned is that they all to an extent use tinkering since all the prototypes were made by hacking and tinkering existing products/building blocks.

Daft Punk's Pyramid, EboSuite and BLOCK SYSTEM

week 2

Group tinkering

2.1. Group work
In week 2 we had the chance to interact with various building blocks and make our own lofi prototype. We tested the modules in BYOR, LittleBits and for the prototype we had access to servos, cardboard boxes, markers and various other cheap "building block" type equipment. Our prototype was a mr.potatohead inspired creation that used servos to make the character do certain actions.

2.2. Group Findings (Table)
Through this process we developed a first version of THE TABLE which is a table that consists of different features that the building blocks we tinkered with had. The features we extracted were Affordance, Ease of Use, Price and Skills Needed. The list is quite short at this point but it should be expanded throughout this course.
2.2. Iteration on DVJ1
DVJ1 was further developed. The week 2 version of the prototype consists of 2 Launchpads and 1 LaunchControl XL. The current idea is to use MIDI devices as modules which creates a lot of possibilities for custom mappings and workflows, however this approach still has its challenges. Firstly it requires extensive tinkering on the software side of things to ensure that each mapping has a meaningful role in the context of audiovisual live shows. Moreover although this approach offers alot in affordance via the available knobs,buttons,sliders and other potential devices that can be added, and with proper documentation it can be easy to use, there is a learning curve to the process and its price-point can be steep. In the next weeks I hope to iterate further and improve the concept.

THE TABLE : week 2

DVJ1 : week 2

week 3
3.1. TouchDesigner Card Game
As a design exercise we were tasked with designing a physical metaphor for programming. My idea was to create a card game that would teach the players the basics of TouchDesinger, a node based visual programming language which you can use to create real time visuals. 
The game should be played on an interactive table, where each card placed on it will be scanned in real time and modify the final visual which will be always displayed on the table. The cards would mirror the basic available nodes of TD, but in a more simplified and game friendly way. Each card will have an easy to understand explanation of the node and will feature a small illustration, inspired by football or playing cards.
Normally TD allows for paramater tweaking and mapping in each node, however as this is a simplified metaphor each node will be assigned random values every time they are placed. For example the noise node, will output a random noise curve, the math node will output a random function etc. By putting cards in sequence a different visual will be created every time which will teach the user how TD works in a simple yet fun way.

TouchDesigner Card Game Concept

DVJ1 status week 3

3.2. Iteration on DVJ1
The idea behind DVJ1 was developed from last week. Conceptually DVJ1 can be adapted to be more beginner friendly. Inspired by LittleBits the original idea can be morphed into a plug and play solution where each MIDI module can be seperated, mapped to a different property in the audiovisual scope and linked together to create a unique audiovisual composition. This idea is also inspired by existing modular MIDI solutions such as Roli blocks and the traditional oscilloscopes which visualize the sound that they make. 
The week 2 prototype was also further developed, mainly in the software side to allow audiovisual composing. Ableton and Resolume were combined to allow the MIDI devices to manipulate sounds and visuals simultaneously. A miro board with the current functionalities can be found here. In the coming weeks the prototype will be redesigned to fit with the new concept.
week 4
4.1. Group work
Our group decided to explore the topics of wearables in relation to the tinkering principles we learned in the previous weeks. Our proposal is WereWatch, a toolkit that allows the user to build their own wearable by linking different modules together. This will hopefully result in wearable tech being less of a "black box" for common users.
4.2. Iteration on DVJ1
Picking up from week 3, the initial stages of a new lofi prototype for DVJ1 were developed. The new solution takes major inspiration from littleBits, allowing the user to arrange different modules such as knobs, sliders and buttons inside a limited "work area". Simple visual elements such as lines and shapes can be then triggered and adjusted in real time by the modules that the user pieces together. This means that different arrangements allow for different visual possibilities, making the design low threshold and high ceiling in its possibilities. At the moment the prototype is fully digital and only focused on visuals. The final solution should be physical and also allow the user to manipulate audio with the visuals, thus essentially making the solution an audiovisual synthesizer. In the next weeks the prototype will be further developed.

WereWatch kit mockup

DVJ1 week 4 lofi prototype

LittleBits by KORG

week 5

Amazfit GTR (top), PS Vita (bottom)

5.1. Group work
This week we decided to explore the different possibilites of a modular, wearable device. After a group meeting we decided to each come up with a lofi prototype that can help us get a grasp of how a toolkit would look like. Different ideas such as pen & paper prototypes, 3D printed models and in detail sketches were suggested. For my lo-fi prototype I took apart an Amazfit GTR smart watch and a PS Vita, which allowed me to closely examine in depth the different modules that make up devices like that and brainstorm on potential solutions that take inspiration from the deconstructed devices.

The modules inside the Amazfit helped expand my understanding of how wearable devices work. Mainly I found myself to be impressed with how many different modules can fit in a such enclosed space. Features such as a touchscreen, heart monitoring, vibration and even a microphone were able to fit in a harmonic way in a sleek wearable device which is something that I was personally inspired by.
The components found inside the Vita can suggest an interesting, more gamepad-focused direction to the wearable idea. Modules such as a joysticks, shoulder buttons or d-pads were used for decades in handheld consoles due to their compactness and high adaptability to different games and apps, which is something that could translate to the wearable device very nicely, especially for gaming and applications that require high user engagement.
5.2. Iteration on DVJ1
Due to upcoming live shows I decided to go back to the week 3 iteration of the DVJ1 since its a more stable (and at this moment more developed) version of the idea that allows for composing a full audiovisual performance live. In the next 2 weeks I'll be performing audiovisual shows in different environments, such as in a theater and electronic dance music raves. Both scenarios require me to perform music and visuals simultaneously which would be the perfect scenario to test how the auidovisual instrument I've been developing performs. Afterwards reflection and further development would be made.
To prepare for the shows significant changes were made which can be found in the Miro Board. The board mainly describes the setup that can be used for higher-intensity EDM (Electronic Dance Music) shows, however the flexibility of the idea already allows me to perform more methodical shows, like the theater performance by simply rearranging the modules (MIDI devices). Launchpads, LunchControl and even touchscreens can be linked together to make up the setup. The drawback is that currently a laptop/PC with sufficent USB ports is needed, which harms the tinkering possibilities of the idea.
At this point the parameters have to be mapped maunally in Ableton Live, which then sends OSC signals to Resolume Arena that trigger the visuals next to the sounds, however a future iteration could see that process be made more user-friendly by introducing a software with a nice GUI that would act as the main digital interface of the entire setup.
The week 4 (w4) itereation will be explored further after the shows since it can end up being a prototype more in line with what this course is teaching. Reflecting on the shows can also help with the development of the w4 prototype since at its core it's a similar audiovisual instrument.

DJV1 w3 iteration, developed. 5 modules are connected in this image (in red)

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