Swaying Oak is a digital instrument for real-time performance of a 3D model with audio synthesis.
The controller is a repurposed haptics interface with force feedback (ghostbox) – meaning that I can feel the tree “swaying” through the knobs.
The tree model, a modified representation of a live oak sculpted in ZBrush and rigged in Maya, is animated using Max/Jitter. The motion of the limbs and branches drive granular synthesis parameters (the cracking and snapping sounds).
This project was motivated both by an interest in exploring more robust visual assets for real-time performance as well as curiosity about the fallibility of memory and how it relates to unfamiliar environments. Even though my memories of trees from the American Midwest are often of them swaying in the breeze, live oaks are stationary. Seeing them in motion enhances their already alien-like appearance.