Thursday, November 19, 2009

Monome Madness

For a long time I have wanted a Monome (check out the Wikipedia entry here). Initially, my desire to own one of these devices was based on the functionality it provides and its minimalist look, which oozes cool. I was thrilled at the beginning of this semester when Paul Rothman, one of my colleagues at ITP, took the lead on organizing a group of students to build Monomes.

The initial excitement continued to increase during the past several weeks. It reached a highpoint this week with the recent arrival of the components and the gradual arrival of these devices on the floor. I can’t wait for my build session that is scheduled for Saturday. I will assemble a “40h” unit that is similar to the one described here, though it will feature a different case.

The other factor that has greatly heightened my anticipation for the build was tonight’s visit from the Monome creator, Brian Crabtree. Brian's partner in crime, Kelli Cain, was not able to join this session. Here is a short video from Brian’s visit. I’ve captured part of his talk along with two short demos of the Monome in action.

Learning about the motivation and creative process associated to the design of the device and the production process was inspiring. The product and process are both manifestations of the value and belief systems held by Brian and his partner Kelli Cain. First and foremost, this product was born out of the desire to provide new possibilities for creativity through freedom. That is why it is an open source platform that has no pre-defined functionality.

The designs and prototypes, and later the machinery required to manufacture these devices, were developed with no help from corporate organizations. Equally important, local production partners are used to manufacture the Monome, and selection of these partners has been guided by a socially and environmentally conscious philosophy.

In my opinion Brian and Kelly are true artists. They have brought (and continue to bring) into the world amazing new possibilities on many different dimensions – the product, the process, the freedom, and the passion. That’s enough praise since I know I am starting to sound cheesy (as if I that was not the case already). I'll just reiterate once again - I am officially inspired. I know that many of my future projects will include this little box as a key interface element.

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