Concept, design, costumes, and direction: Forrest Oliphant, Liisa Pesonen, Hannele Romppanen
Dancers: Helena Romppanen & Minja Mertanen

Impulse/Control is a game-based dance performance. The performance is based on two arcade controllers operated by the leaders, and two dancers — the Samurai Sisters. The control boxes trigger vibrating pressure in different parts of the dancers’ costumes. These vibration signals are like a push — the push is an impulse, a motivating force that invites the dancer to action. The false duality of social dance’s lead and follow is deconstructed in the performance. These roles are not black and white, as the followers have free will to improvise with the impulses. The rules and goals of play are malleable, so this game has infinite variations and outcomes.

Photos: Jere Saarelainen


The ideation of the costumes started one month before the Demo-day 5.12. in Muu Galleria.

In this point Forrest and Hannele had put already a lot of thought to the over all concept and how the garments should work with the dancers so I felt I was jumping in to quite ready thought project.

We had a meeting about the possible design and after that I felt that I had quite open hands for the look of the costumes, I got some amazing motivation from the site, gambling just gives me a lot of creativity.

For the vibration motors, we thought of making some kind of vests for the dancers that could be worn also by anyone in the audience. So because of this quite early the ideation went to asian type solutions with kimonos, hakamas and a lot of wrapping.

Also since the idea was to make the dancers wired to the control boxes, we already got the idea of making tales for the dancers.

For inspiration I looked for pictures of Samurais, Hakamas, agent bird lizards, artificial anatomy and games like Street Fighter and Pacman

I started looking for materials and making of the outfits on 21.11.

We decided to make the two dancers as Samurai Sisters. In this all of our thoughts of the concept and design connected really well. As colors we chose only black and white.


We were not too concerned by the static electricity since our electronics were so simplified so we had only artificial materials like polyester, lycra, mesh and light curtain.

For the vests I looked for materials at that would be very soft so that the vibration would not spread around the garments but that would also work as an armor. For the black outfit I found some neoprene-style fabric from the costume studio and for the white one I bought fabric that is used under tablecloth to keep it still. For both materials I did a lot of stitching with sewing machine to give more consistent look and so that I would be able to make stitches through all the material layers in the end when needed. The end result was very cool when the materials started to look like muscles.


The pattern making for the kimono-style vest was the most hardest part in making of the garments. I found some difficulties in making a fitting pattern for very small female dancers, but that could be tested also by the audience and by us ourselves.

We changed the boxes for the vibration motors from Kinder boxes to dental floss boxes cause they had better shape.

Anyways I had to put a lot of consideration so that the boxes would have enough space but still be pressed on the body and that they would not move during the performance. I made one prototype that was not yet wired but allowed dancers to start practicing with it.

We also did few changes to the patterns by the problems we noticed in the prototype.

We wanted to make the electronics removable from the outfit since it was easier to work that way in a short schedule and that any part could be changed in the last days if needed. Forrest could build the wiring and all the control parts and I could concentrate on the outfits. Luckily I also got help for sewing and cutting from Hannele, and our seamstress Anne.

In both of the vests we made holes for the LEDs of the vibration boxes. For attaching the boxes and to get the small LEDs through the holes we used velcro. Velcro was on the inside of the vests and also on the surface of each boxes around the LED. In the end velcro was very useful in many parts of the vests for adjusting and making it more wearable. In many parts of the inside of the vest I used construction that is familiar from sportwear.

In the end result I was very pleased with. The outfits were working really well and beautifully but we also got knowledge about what to do in another way.

Our performance in Muu Gallery was very beautiful and inspiring for designing more wearable electronics.

Two project presentations 15.12. in Helsinki and some media attention.


Sound Gloves is shown in Media Lab demo day (Lasipalatsi), more info:

Brainwise is shown in Digitaalisen Bisneksen Pikkujoulut, Kaapelitehdas, more info:



Some media attention about course and MUUmaanantai demo event in finnish media:


…if there are more project presentations or media coverage, please share them also here. 🙂

Brain wise

well, we have proceeded well, yet another mile or two to go… valtteri has programmed arduino to read the sensors an i have constructed the headwear and light fiber system.

sensors and wiring



in process

fiber optics

the adventure continues.

Wearable Electronics course presentations – MUU Gallery 5.12.

Electronics and sensors allow artists to create interactive smart garments that produce sound and images in reaction to movement. They sense and communicate with the environment and the user, and may react to them. In some cases the garment is in connection with the Internet and exchanges information based on the data it has measured.

As the term ‘wearable’ suggests, these interactive artworks are carried by the user and in bodily connection with him or her.

The Wearable Electronics course has been organised during autumn 2011 in collaboration between Aalto University School of Art and Design, and MUU Artists’ Association. The participants who come from a variety of backgrounds such as new media, costume design, textile design, fine art and performing arts have been encouraged to create their own visions of wearable technology. They have worked in teams to carry out their ideas based on the Arduino development platform.

Welcome to experience these six unique projects – to see them in use and even to try some of them on.

Place: MUU Gallery (Lönnrotinkatu 33, Helsinki)
Time: Monday 5.12. at 17-19

Organised by MUU Artists’ Association and Aalto University

Teachers: Tomi Dufva and Jukka Hautamäki, and visiting lecturer Meg Grant



Impulse/Control progress

We came up with a title for our concept: Impulse/Control. I’m really happy how this project has me jumping from the wood, costume, and electronics workshops. We’re investing a lot of time and effort into the project, and we’re excited to see how it comes together.

Two boxes, new buzzers

Two control boxes are built. We found a different kind of plastic case from a dentist office for the buzzer enclosures.

One box is wired up.

One box is wired up.

a pile of diodes (instead of a microcontroller)

Close-up of the diode logic for multiple switches to control multiple buzzers.

Costume prototyping

Costume prototyping.

Sound Gloves – WIP

We have been working on the gloves project this week and made some progress. First, we sewed the conductive thread to the inner fabric layer of the gloves, and soldered the amps onto the circuit boards (after failing twice, we got it right on the 3rd time). After that we tested the connection between the thread on the layer and the i/o of the circuit. Finally after paying with dream jackpot kasino, we started sewing the circuit and the connections onto the inner layer.

The sound produced with thread connections was not as loud as wire connections, although the thread was quite short there’s still some resistances that reduced the amplitude.

A lot of discussions and thinkings took place before sewing the conductive thread. For example, for the piezo pair, there were 13 thread lines that went into the circuit board. This was one of the major challenges as the space on the back of the gloves was limited, so we needed to carefully plan the placement of the thread to avoid crossing that would cause unwanted connections.

We have also got some ideas and progress to embed the small speakers in simple but nice looking resonators. More pictures will be added later. Here is one early version:

Defensive Dress Progress

A little update on what we have been doing.

The first test of thermochromic textiles. We tried to test different materials as the heating element. These small patches were woven by hand with various metallic threads and silk thread dyed with the thermochromic ink.

Here is the actual thread we are going to use:

The picture below shows us measuring the length and type of resistance wire we can use. We had two types of wire: 0.3 mm and 0.4 mm. It seems that we need about 300 mA of current to heat the wire to a point where it reacts with the threads dyed with thermochromic ink.

The lengths of wire we can use with a 9V battery:

  • ~ 4 meters of the 0.3 mm wire
  • ~ 5 meters of the 0.4 mm wire

A 9V battery is not really the ideal option since it would drain out really fast when we use 300 mA., but we also need the higher voltage. I think we need to use a bigger LiPo or NiMH battery (7.4V or 11.1V).

Emmi working on the shape of the dress.

Dancer control construction progress

Monday, we finally got the joystick and buttons in the mail.

Joystick surgery

I’m really happy with the look and feel of the joystick and arcade buttons. One of the four directions wasn’t clicking every time, so I did a little joystick surgery. It is satisfying to be able to take apart a component with a few screws then immediately see how it works and how to fix it.

Control box 1

Here is the first control box. We still need to do the wiring inside.

Fabricating the pressure points

Thanks to the other class members who helped me get these plastic eggs out of their chocolate packaging. Each of these will be a vibration/light module to give directional impulses to the dancer.

Chips and Salsa



Some progress with the electrodes has been done! From left to right: base unit, electrode, ground electrode. Ali from Media Factory soldered the tiny SMD’s to the board (like a boss). We still need to attach the resistors and capacitors and some copper before we can test it out.

The PCB’s were designed in Eagle CAD according to [1].

[1] Y M Chi, P Ng, E Kang, J Kang, J Fang and G Cauwenberghs. Wireless Non-contact Cardiac and Neural Monitoring. Wireless Health 2010.