Women’s Labor: Creating NIMEs from Domestic Tools

margaret schedel and Ho, Jocelyn and Blessing, Matthew

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

This paper describes the creation of a NIME created from an iron and wooden ironing board. The ironing board acts as a resonator for the system which includes sensors embedded in the iron such as pressure, and piezo microphones. The iron has LEDs wired to the sides and at either end of the board are CCDs; using machine learning we can identify what kind of fabric is being ironed, and the position of the iron along the x and y-axes as well as its rotation and tilt. This instrument is part of a larger project, Women’s Labor, that juxtaposes traditional musical instruments such as spinets and virginals designated for “ladies” with new interfaces for musical expression that repurpose older tools of women’s work. Using embedded technologies, we reimagine domestic tools as musical interfaces, creating expressive instruments from the appliances of women’s chores.