bret battey • bat hat media


Study Towards as Illustrated Raga Bhairavi

motion-tracking etude


This video is part of an ongoing research thread investigating the idea that new approaches to audiovisual composition can be inspired by the spontaneous gesturing of Indian classical vocalists.

Some Indian vocal performers' hand and arm gestures seem to provide a kind of parallel discourse that reveals alternative dimensions of what is being expressed musically. [See Matthew Rahaim's book Musicking Bodies: Gesture and Voice in Hindustani Music (2012) for an investigation of this challenging topic.]

Can this spontaneous gesturing inform the creation of a satisfying "fluid counterpoint" relationship between complex sound and image gestalts?

My intent was to map motion-tracking data of an Indian classical vocalist to abstract visualisations, with the expectations of achieving an ideal of "fluid counterpoint" between the image and the music. In other words, I was wagering that the spontaneous gesturing of the musician can itself act as a convincing intermediary between the music and visual domains. If so, this could provide clues to the construction of real-time visualisation control systems based on body tracking, allowing coherent multidimensional control of visual systems by a "visualist/interpreter" listening to music, for example.

The first part of the project involved the audio recording and motion tracking of a khyal performer, Tofail Ahmed, as shown in the photo on the right. I then mapped this data to animations, using the Blender 3D animation software and custom scripting. I engaged in a wide range of experimentation abstracting far from the body, but in the end I used a more direct approach in this Study. The motion trail ribbons follow the finger tips, while the panels in the background move based on relationships between the segments of the body.

I ultimately would like to find solutions to abstracting further from the shape of the body, while maintaining the fluid coherence of the relationship between sound and image exhibited by a performer.

[By the way, the Vikon marker dots on Tofail don't actually emit light, despite the appearances in the photo on the left. Those a reflective dots, and a flash was used for the photo…]

I posted some blog entries regarding the project.


mocap sticks and bones