Cembalo Scrivano (2018)

The Cembalo Scrivano .2 (CS2) is an augmented typewriter. Visitors interact with the typewriter by typing as they would normally do with a typewriter. The system detects the typing activity and generates and manipulates audio and visual materials in real-time. This project is a re-edition of CS1, a project from Giacomo Lepri inspired by a writing machine invented by Giuseppe Ravizza in 1855, which he called Cembalo Scrivano (Scribe Harpsichord) due to the piano-keys aesthetic. Ravizza designed the machine borrowing the interaction paradigm from the harpsichord (from music to typewriting). CS2 inverts the analogy: from the interaction paradigm of the typewriter to an instrument for audiovisual art. The audiovisual are strongly influenced by an ambiguous aesthetic in which a single correct interpretation of the instrument is missing. This characteristic allow the visitors to project their own stories in the installation and develop their own interpretation.

From an interactive point of view, the CS2 is characterised by two states. The first is the idle state, which is associated to a condition of quietness: when no interaction is detected for more than 5 seconds a background sound is generated and the LEDs constantly fade in and out. The second state is triggered when a key is pressed. The background sound suddenly changes, additional (pre-recorded) sounds are triggered, and the LEDs bright up for a fraction of time. Once the system enters into the second state the various sounds are organised following an activity metaphor. The typing activity is interpreted in relation to the quantity of energy injected into the system. A slow and short typing is associated with low energy levels, while a fast and continuous writing gradually increases the amount of energy detected by the system. The CS2 organises the materials generated based on the amount of typing activity: low activity produces quiet and punctual audio-visual events; high activity produces dense, articulated, and loud sequences of sound and visuals.

  • Visual art
  • Giacomo Lepri
  • 6/7/2018 - COLLAB - Graz, Austria
Publications Award
  • First place award at COLLAB 2018