Analog Multitouch Goodness (and something about user interfaces)


While I generally leave the business of standing alone on stage and fingersquiggling on a smartphone touchscreen to others as a performance modality, I remain an unabashed fan of the idea of being able to construct elegant multitouch module interface/performance setups like this one:

The video crossed my transom almost in tandem with the announcement of the release of Brian Eno and Peter Childers’ most recent iPad app Scape, and together they strike me as a useful object of contemplation: thinking about exercise of “reverse engineering” approach when it comes to making new things in Max, and how or whether it interacts with the idea of encoding opportunities for virtuosity.

Even on those occasions where I have tried to duplicate something that moved me as exactly as I could, the result was never a precise copy. Despite that, it seems as though nearly every important thing I learned about Max programming winds up being traceable to what happens when you break down a problem into its component parts and then try to imagine what the “Max version” of those parts would be. It’s usually the case that a really interesting give and take always occurs while the process is going on that, in retrospect, might be more interesting than the initial goal.

In the case of the touchpad/Eurorack example, you can actually puzzle it out – a combination of the text itself and a quick look at the front panels and jacks for the Cyclebox, ES-3″, Maths, Doepfer A-132-3, and Tom Erbe’s Echophon* modules in the rack will more or less tell you what you need. So, reverse engineering this wouldn’t be too awful a proposition.

Beyond that, it’s just a question of downloading a fingerpinger external for Max and engaging in little tweakery.

That’s the way it is when someone else breaks the conceptual ground for you; you’re freed up to find the parts you’re less comfortable with and tweak the patch, or use what you find for the next thing.

* Mr. Erbe, for those of you who may not recognize his name, is the author of the wonderful suite of Soundhack MSP external objects.