Tinkering with Tinko: Episode 1

Tamao Cmiral:  “Tinko”, Costume Design
Erik Fredriksen: “Honky Tonk”, Sound Design, Script
Mark Mendell:  Max Programmer, Guy Who Cues the Lights and Sounds
Ticha Sethapakdi:  Lighting Design, Arduino Programmer, Sign Holder

For our project we were interested in making a performance that played out like an episode from a children’s television show.  The performance involves one actor and a “puppeteer” that controls the robotic toy piano using a MIDI keyboard.

Content-wise, the episode has the host (Tinko) teaching his toy piano (Honky Tonk) how to play itself and contains motifs such as disappointment, external validation, and happiness.  And of course, feelin’ the music.

Our diverse group of skills was what allowed us to bring this show to life.  Erik wrote most of the script and recorded the very professional-quality show tunes; Mark made a Max patch that converted note on/off messages received from a MIDI keyboard into bytecodes that would be sent to the Arduino through serial, as well as a patch that allows him to control the lights/sound cues from TouchOSC; I wrote Arduino code that reads bytes from the serial port and pushes/pulls the solenoids on the piano keys depending on which bytes were read, and made the lighting animations; and Tamao put together a Tinko-esque costume and spoke in a weird voice throughout the skit while maintaining a straight face.

Overall we had a lot of fun developing this piece and are very satisfied with the outcome.


Github page.

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