One Knob To Rule Them All: Reductionist Interfaces For Expansionist Research




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New Interfaces For Musical Expression (NIME)



Peer reviewed



This paper describes an instance of what we call ‘curated research’, a concerted thinking, making and performance activity between two research teams with a dedicated interest in the creation of experimental musical instruments and the development of new performance practices. Our work builds theoretically upon critical work in philosophy, anthropology and aesthetics, and practically upon previous explorations of strategies for facilitating rapid, collaborative, publicly-oriented making in artistic settings. We explored an orientation to making which promoted the creation of a family of instruments and performance environments that were responses to the self-consciously provocative theme of ‘One Knob To Rule Them All’. A variety of design issues were explored including: mapping, physicality, the question of control in interface design, reductionist aesthetics and design strategies, and questions of gender and power in musical culture. We discuss not only the technologies which were made but also reflect on the value of such concerted, provocatively thematised, collective making activities for addressing foundational design issues. As such, our work is intended not just as a technical and practical contribution to NIME but also a reflective provocation into how we conduct research itself in a curated critical manner.


Culture Lab, University of Newcastle; and Centre for Digital Innovation, Tongji University, Shanghai, China


New interfaces for musical expression (NIME), collaboration, experimental interfaces, music hardware, music performance, research methods, annotated portfolio


Bowers, J., Richards, J., Shaw, T., Frize, J., Freeth, B., Topley, S., Spowage, N., Jones, S., Patel, A., Rui, L. and Edmondes, W. (2016) One Knob To Rule Them All: Reductionist Interfaces For Expansionist Research. New Interafeces for Musical Expression (NIME) Conference Proceedings.


Research Institute