‘Nature spirit’ is an interactive performance artwork using leap motion and max/MSP. In this work, I intend to represent the spirit of nature and diversity aspects of nature with several methods.
Have you thought about the energy which can not be seen but can be felt ? Which elements can make you move? What exact elements make you feel the feelings? In Asian countries, there is the specific word called “Qi” which may explain those questions. Asian people believe Qi to be a vital force forming part of any living entity. Qi translates as “air” and figuratively as “material energy”, “life force”, or “energy flow“. They describe it as permeating everything and linking their surroundings together. Qi was also linked to the flow of energy around and through the body, forming a cohesive functioning unit. By understanding the rhythm and flow of Qi, they believed they could guide exercises and treatments to provide stability and longevity. In one sentence, ‘Qi’ is the invisible energy of life and it makes every organism flow.
In this project, I tried to represent the ‘Qi’ flow as hand gestures using leap motion. The project consists of multiple objects including audio and visual. All elements are controlled by the hand. The aspect that signifies the hand is ‘Qi’ and other elements are the vitality. For the life, I selected to represent the natural organisms such as wind, flower, animals, tree, and so on. Human or human made elements are not included.
About the sound, there are three types of sounds: background, animals and hand gesture effect. First of all, the background sound is mainly similar to the wind sounds which make nature ambience, but also expresses the whole atmosphere which can be managed by the energy. As a result, it represents the flow of energy. To create more immersive nature ambience, I inserted three animal sounds: lion, buffalo and sheep. These animals are illustrated as representatives of each layer of the food chain. The lion is the highest position, the buffalo stays in the middle and the sheep places below both. The last sound is also the current of the energy but has an even stronger effect in terms of hand movements.
The visual element performs a crucial role in this work. I adapted the kaleidoscope structure to represent the diversity of nature and focus on its own natural colours. I took video myself and inserted it into the kaleidoscope. The video has several scenes, which contain various nature landscapes. That is the reason why I could easily create abstract representations of certain colours and attributes of nature.
The project ’Nature Spirit’ is created by using three major sectors which are leap motion detection and abstracting data from pure data, the sound and the visual.
In the first place, to apply leap motion to max/MSP, I chose aka.leapmotion as a Max external object for the Leap Motion Controller. Then, I scrutinised the pure data from the object and calculated the data using numbers and finger position jit.window. More detail, I extracted finger position data(x, y, z), palm velocity data(x, y, z) and palm position data(x, y, z). From the pure data, I used ‘zl.slice’ to extract.
Next, I moved to generate the sound. For the background sound, there are two sounds exist. Both of them I modified Frieda’s example ’01_LFO_Reson’. One is the sound of nature by using an audio file and another is the wind sound, both appear to sound like the wind but these are different. I chose the jungle sound as the audio file and created the sound effect via ‘reson~’ function which is a resonant bandpass filter. The wind sound is reacted by leap data especially palm x, y velocity. To control certain range of scale, I selected ‘scale~’ object which maps an input range of float or integer values to an output range. The range of palm velocity data is from -300 to 300, so I mapped that figure to particular values according to each particular scale. The sound of energy flow, I named ‘sound of happen’ in my patches. I manipulated Frieda’s example ’01_Ring_Modulation’. This sound generates the sound through finger position data x, y, z. Each position affects the carrier signal, the scaling signal, and the modulation signal. For the animal sounds, I imported lion, buffalo and sheep sounds, then played them via the buffer. To make it richer, I chose ‘groove~’ object which references the audio information stored in the ‘buffer~’ object having the same name. I designed it to use finger direction x, y, z data in the speed to generate sound effect from original sounds. Also, by applying ‘if’ object, Each animal sound has a specific location in space relative to the hand position. This therefore allows the participant to have some element of control over the sounds.
Finally, to produce kaleidoscope effect, I adapted ‘MaxFractals’ and transformed it to fit my video. I used ‘jit.movie’ object and other ‘jit’ series objects. For adjusting transparency between my video and kaleidoscope, ‘jit.xfade’ was the proper selection. Besides, rotation, scale was ‘jit.rota’ and ‘jit.brcosa’ helped to control the brightness, contrast, and saturation. In this visual work, I focused on the movements of the kaleidoscope. Thus, I also use palm position x, y, z data for rotation, zoom x, y and anchor x, y. This leap data make precise kaleidoscope shapes. So, when you check the visual outcome, the animation is changing every single moment. There is json file inside the project folder, this file contains the kaleidoscope data. The objects named ‘pattforward, pattr, prepend’ let each element I modified access the kaleidoscope data.
 01_Ring_Modulation  01_LFO_Reson  https://github.com/natcl/MaxFractals?files=1  https://www.programmingforpeople.com  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qi#Concept  http://akamatsu.org/aka/max/objects/  https://www.google.com/search?q=animal+sounds  https://gumroad.com/l/NatureGold