Georg Essl é professor assistente do departamento de Engenharia Elétrica & Ciencia da Computação na Universidade de Michigan. Sua pesquisa foca na interseção criativa entre tecnologias móveis e música, com foco em novas interfaces e novas formas de expressão. Conduz também o Michigan Mobile Phone Ensemble, que incentiva a estudantes criarem seus próprios instrumentos e performances. Mais sobre o seu trabalho pode ser encontrado no seu site.


What is your design process for new interfaces for musical expression (NIME)?
Do other people take part in this process? What are their roles?
There really is no one answer to this question, as I have used a range of approaches. Usually there is some underlying conceptual idea first that drive the design, but recently a big part of my work was to design environments that help others design their own NIMEs. So rather than make the final decision we try to make the process easy and flexible, yet open for others.


What are the main challenges in designing NIMEs?
It’s a very complex space. Motor action, cognition, culture, preferences, performance idea, artistic intent, audience reception, and many more factors go into what makes a NIME. Not to mention the relationship of performers action and sonic outcome. The devil can often be in the detail, such as how does it “feel” for the performer, metaphorically, or literally in terms of tactile feedback and control. We are still very much in a tinkering and experimenting and trial-and-error stage with respect to our strategies of developing new NIMEs. In some sense that’s what makes the field exciting!


“The NIME we create are not used outside the academia”. What do you think about this statement?
It’s fine. Academia is a place where we can take risks and experiment. It’s the space where we can fail and learn without it threatening ones  existence too much. But of course it is great if a NIME succeeds in the sense of being used outside of academia. However I think it would be a mistake to see it as negative if a NIME does not. Only if we have no lessons learned from that NIME then it was a waste.
Further it can actually be hard to move a new NIME out of the hand of the original designer into broader use. It really depends on the NIME, but in many cases only one or a hand-full of custom NIMEs are built. It’s not so much for the lack of desire to have them used outside academia, but the obstruction of dissemination that causes this barrier. This, incidentally, is why I got interested in commodity hardware to  do NIME like work. In particular mobile devices have offered lots of performance opportunity while completely removing the trouble of dissemination. But commodity hardware comes with its own limitations, so I think we’ll always have a spread of approaches.