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Human Harp

An interactive, internationally-informed art installation project designed to link artists and digital music researchers to collaboratively develop high-profile, mass participation art events.

Human Harp
  • School/Institute/Department: Centre for Digital Music, School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science
  • Subjects: Engineering, Mass Participation Art, Music
  • Audience: Creative Workers, Bridge Enthusiasts, General Public

The Human-Harp is an interactive, internationally-informed art installation project designed to link artists and digital music researchers to collaboratively develop high-profile, mass participation art events.

Mirroring the cables of a suspension bridge, the device physically attaches the user, or Movician, to bridges and urban structures.  The twanging, lengthening and shortening of strings attached to a body suit is measured by digital sensors, triggering the release of sounds recorded from the vibrations of the structure to create music.

Performances have taken place on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York as part of its 130th anniversary celebrations, and as part of a ‘live lab’ public workshop at a month long residency in Camden Roundhouse, spreading its application beyond bridges to urban structures. The team have also been commissioned to develop a large scale performance to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

The Human Harp was created using research in engineering and digital music, designed to showcase the work being done at Queen Mary to new audiences . A major aim of the project is to create collaborations and partnerships around art installations. In the making of each performance the group use local artists and researchers to connect new networks, sharing knowledge and experiences between a wide variety of people including engineers, dancers, musicians and bridge lovers.

The creative process, performances and resulting data are documented online to enable followers to engage with developments and events remotely. The team also conduct showcases, lectures and workshops publicly at venues such as the Barbican, V&A and Columbia University. This open access approach allows the benefits of the project to reach a wider audience.

For more information on the project visit their website.

Much of our research is done on bridges working with young people, dancers, scientists and creative thinkers. The rest of our ideas are realised in other people’s spaces (studios, labs, living-rooms, gardens, roofs…) where we can open up our creative process to new and captive audiences.
Di Mainstone, Project Artist and co-lead

The project was funded by a Queen Mary Centre for Public Engagement Large Award

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