Hye Yeon Nam is a visual and kinetic artist living in Atlanta, GA and originally from Seoul, Korea. She’s a designer and artist who is inspired by her “personal experiences, emotions, and in-between state.”
At one point in time she asked herself the question:
What if we no longer had the use of our hands to play instruments or produce various forms of music? Through what alternative could we express ourselves musically?
The Human Tongue
So, she decided to come up with the answer for her own question.
The human tongue can actually rival the hands and fingers in terms of it’s ability to perform manipulative tasks, and with this concept in mind, the “Tongue Music System” was born. This music system uses the tongue, rather than the hand, to generate sounds and melodies.
The system is run by two peoples’ tongues: One person stands in front of a projector, which displays an abstract video image consisting of hundreds of dots or large pixels. The performer uses a head mounted system to control the mouse with his tongue to simultaneously play the main melody and to manipulate the video images. The other performer create various piano melodies by placing the tongue against one of multiple bottles.
Here it is in action: Tongue Music
The headset or “Tongue Drive System” possesses sensors that detect the magnetic field from a small magnet secured on the tongue with tissue adhesive. These sensor readings are wirelessly transmitted to the computer.
For the second performer, two bottles contain the circuit board of a mini-electronic keyboard. The bottles also contain four magnets each which attach to springs. When a performer touches the tongue magnet to a section of the bottle, it attracts the closest magnet , which touches a metal switch connected to the circuit board. This connection completes a circuit that causes a specific piano note to be played.
As weird (and creepy) as it sounds, you have to admit that it’s pretty creative. I’d love to see it hooked up to a synthesizer to control the sounds (there’s only so much of that piano that I can take!). Hye Yeon Nam also has a ton of other kinetic art projects that you should definitely check out.