Amit Zoran: Hybrid Fabrication and the Design of Musical Instruments

Wed, 02/06/2013 - 5:15pm - 7:00pm
CCRMA Classroom, The Knoll 2nd floor, Rm 217
Event Type: 

 In recent years, advances in digital tools have dramatically altered our ability to design the physical world. Musical instruments have always been at the cross-section of traditional and contemporary technologies, which makes them a great domain for design exploration.This research explores what has conventionally been treated as two divergent design realms - that of emerging digital technologies and timeless hand-hewn craft.

The 3D Printed Flute project investigates the capabilities and limitations of 3D printing in the fabrication of wind instruments. This is a fully functional concert flute, imitating the acoustic and ergonomic qualities of traditional flute design, while re-designing its operational mechanism. This project suggests a flaw in the digital practice of the design of physical artifacts, being intrinsically reproducible lose their unique value as one-of-a-kind. This uniqueness stands at the center of what defines the relationship between the player, the instrument, and their shared acoustic signature.

The Chameleon Guitar project looks more closely at the potential for exploiting the advantages of both the acoustic and the digital. The unique sonic properties of acoustic instruments arise from the physical characteristics of the source materials and the handcrafted touch. In contrast, digitally simulated instruments foster flexibility but often at the expense of generic sounds. The Chameleon Guitar exploits acoustic properties via a replaceable resonator complemented by a simulated shape or other digital signal manipulation. It merges the unique spectral and spatial behavior of wooden soundboards with the flexibility and sound control of digital processing, to become a hybrid instrument.


Amit Zoran is a PhD student in the Responsive Environments Group of MIT’s Media Lab, currently in his last year. He holds a Master's degree in product design from Bezalel, the Academy for Art and Design in Jerusalem (Israel), and a B.Sc. in Communication System Engineering from Ben-Gurion University in Bear-Sheva (Israel). Specializing in digital signal processing, Amit previously worked as an image and audio processing engineer for companies in the Israeli high-tech industry on variety of real-time DSP projects.

From his earliest experimentation with DSP technologies, throughout his years of research and design at the Media Lab at MIT, Amit have been compelled to explore what has conventionally been treated as two divergent realms - that of emerging digital technologies and timeless hand-hewn craft. While yet grounded in advanced engineering principles, his current work is, in a sense, a physical manifestation of an intensifying desire to develop a new way of thinking about these polarities: the machine, as generator of control and innovation, and the human hand, as preserver of artistic production and culture.

Open to the Public
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