Wesley Chau's recent project Drop the Beat is a performative garment exploring rhythm and sound through physical interaction. It is inspired by Laurie Anderson's 1986 concert film Home of the Brave.


What is your background?

I’m a Toronto-native who studied visual art in a regional arts program during high school. After, I attended the Rhode Island School of Design and discovered a passion for the overlap between design and art. I am currently completing my last year in the Industrial Design program at RISD.


Is Drop the Beat your first experiment with wearable technology?

Yes, and it won’t be my last!


Can you tell me a bit about your process and development behind Drop the Beat?

Drop the Beat was a final project for a collaborative studio at RISD called Digital Body: Hybrid Adornment. The six-week class was an intense crash course on basic flat-pattern making techniques and computational design. As a drummer in high school and an admirer of performance art (in this case, Laurie Anderson’s Home of the Brave), I wanted to create a customizable garment that could elevate the stage presence of digital musicians/DJs.

What is Drop the Beat technically comprised of?

Drop the Beat technically involves four piezo sensors embedded in neoprene drum pads. They are then connected to an Arduino to send a serial to MIDI message to the audio software (in this case, Garageband). All of the electronics are attached with Velcro to the neoprene vest.

Where and how do you envision Drop the Beat being used?

I see this piece being used not only in live concert situations but also in collaborative dance/performance work. It would be exciting to see it translate into different scales.


Is the medium, wearable technology one you plan on re visiting?

Definitely! I think this field is on the cusp of wide expansion and acceptance. I can’t wait to see where it takes us next.


And lastly, how do you see the product evolving? What is version 2.0?

I would love to see the product adopt WIFI features. The design definitely loses refinement with wire and USB cables in the way. Back to the drawing board!


Here is a video documenting the project and the relationship between rhythm and sound.

Views: 709


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Comment by Carly Whitaker on April 27, 2013 at 5:15am

Great idea, I'll make sure Wesley knows.

Comment by Rudolf Arnold on April 16, 2013 at 1:08am
Interesting project and informative interview. For wireless connection you may try XBee.Series 1. I used it with LilyPad, a LilyPad board for XBee and a XBee USB explorer. There are only 3 wires needed between LilyPad (Arduino) and the XBee. Common GND and RX -> TX and TX -> RX. Just connecting and it works as if the serial interface would have been directly connected to your Mac/PC.

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