They are the founding fathers of Reactable Systems, which came into being 4 years ago with the idea of redefining the way in which we interact with computers. Using the knowledge they have gained through the Reactable musical instrument they have developed intuitive products focussed on the promotion of cultural creativity and intervention. To that end they are applying the latest technology in human/computer interaction, musical technology and computerised graphics and vision.
‘It’s incredible working alongside these music data geniuses; I don’t feel like such a geek and I’m learning a lot from them. We’re a big team, some 20 people, made up of computer engineers, designers, musicians, sales and bookings teams, all working at the vanguard and with a lot of freedom. I feel very proud.'
'Reactable arrived in my life at a time of heavy personal depression; suddenly I found that my studies and experience were worth something. I came across Reactable, like most people, through youtube, like Bjork. I then went to a conference given by Sergi Jorda and instantly understood that these people had something for me; this machine was what I had been looking for and, in one of those coincidences of life, they needed a new performer, the Reactable was suffering from ‘overbooking’ as they say.
I studied composition in the University of Buenos Aires, I play a number of instruments, I’m a DJ and I have a lot of knowledge about musical, sound and image technology. All of this is necessary to manage this marvellous invention, as well as a passport and an almost absolute dedication to the project. The tours are both long and tiring.
My function in the enterprise is to be, alongside Carles Lopez, one of the official performers (who are half musicians, half DJs) on tour. In 2009, I presented the Reactable at festivals and clubs in Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Armenia and here in Spain. Carles has been travelling around the world for some years already; a week in every continent. We just don’t stop!”
When you’re experimenting, do you feel that you can create certain ‘sub-worlds’, making sound take, in some way, a dimensional form?
“The sub-worlds are a fundamental part of the art; they are there within you. Instruments and interfaces help you to connect with them. Mind you, if you give a Reactable to a monkey… hmm… I have an idea!
There are a lot of advantages; sound becomes visible on the tactile screen and, most importantly, you’re not just there moving a mouse and staring at the laptop like a dope but you can touch it as a group. The editing and synthesising possibilities become intuitive.
Limitations? Well, it weighs almost 30 kilos (as if you were playing the congas, although the double-bass is worse). We’re already trying out a new, more compact version, with improved software; it’s like being a modern Stradivarius.”
Do you see its possible application to both learning and therapeutic didactic ends?
“Absolutely. It’s the best way I know to show sound and technology applied to music. I had samplers, sequencers, midi, oscillators, generators and effects, all well represented visually on the surface. The children loved it and the parents were carried away with it. Therapeutically it helps because without having any musical knowledge you can play with making simple sounds and playing the pre-sets. You can while away the hours in a galaxy alongside R2D2.”