Sound of Touch

Hayes Raffle
& David Merrill, with Roberto Aimi
Steel, wood, custom electronics, audio processing software running on a PC, and various materials

The Sound of Touch
Sound Of Touch

Sound of Touch is a semi-acoustic instrument for real-time capture and sensitive physical stimulation of sound samples using digital convolution. A hand-held wand can be used to record sound and then playback the recording by brushing, scraping, striking or otherwise physically manipulating the wand against physical objects. During playback, the recorded sound is continuously filtered by the acoustic interaction of the wand and the material being touched.

{website | papers | press | exhibitions}

Freestanding Texture kits invite visitors to sculpt sound by exploring the visual, tactile and acoustic ranges of familiar materials. Their designs are inspired by Mondrian’s mid-career abstract paintings of blocks and lines, and in the texture kits, familiar materials are decontextualized as repurposeable media content.

While an acoustic instrument’s resonance is typically determined by the materials from which it is built, digital audio tools are usually divorced from the world of physical acoustics. With the Sound of Touch, resonant materials can be chosen during the performance itself, allowing performers to shape the acoustics of digital sounds by leveraging their intuitions for the acoustics of physical objects. The Sound of Touch permits real-time exploitation of the sonic properties of a physical environment, to achieve a rich and expressive control of digital sound that is not typically possible in electronic sound synthesis and control systems.


Topobo Griffon
Topobo system
Topobo mixed parts
Topobo moose+hands

While at the MIT Media Lab Hayes invented Topobo, a construction toy with kinetic memory, the ability to record and playback physical motion. Since 2008 he has managed Topobo Co. as founder and principal.

With Topobo, you can snap together Passive (static) and Active (motorized) components to invent your own Topobo creature and animate it by pushing, pulling, and twisting its body. For example, you can make a dog and then teach it to dance and walk by twisting its body and legs. With the push of a button, the dog will dance and walk by itself. The same way children learn how buildings stand by stacking blocks, they can learn how animals walk by playing with Topobo.

Watch the Topobo video.

{website | videos | brochure | press | awards | papers | images}

Youre In Control (Urine Control) Interactive Gaming System

Dan Maynes-Aminzade and Hayes Raffle
Urinal, Electronics, PIC Microcontroller, PC gaming equipment running custom video game

Playing You’re In Control

The You’re In Control system uses computation to enhance the act of urination. Sensors in the back of a urinal detect the position of impact of a stream of urine, enabling the user to play interactive games on a screen mounted above the urinal.

While urination fulfills a basic bodily function, it is also an activity rich with social significance. Along with the refreshing release it provides, the act of micturition satisfies a primal urge to mark our territory. For women who visit the bathroom in groups and chat in neighboring stalls, urination can be a bonding ritual. For men who write their names in the snow, extinguish cigarettes, or congregate around lampposts to urinate, urination can be a test of skill and a way of asserting their masculinity.

Flush the urinal to play You’re a Nation, and drown political opposition as they campaign in key swing states.


{website | video | paper}


Metal, plastic, wood, machine parts, stove, cooking pot, soup.


I met Arthur Ganson on a trip to the Exploratorium in San Francisco, and we started talking. He was organizing a chain reaction of mechanical events at the museum and asked if I’d like to contribute, so of course I said yes, because I’ve wanted to have something there since I was about five years old. I had been working on these little quirky walkers that have two feet and erratically make their way down a hill and I immediately thought to use them. My sculptures are generally cyclic but a chain reaction requires something linear, so it was a trick. I holed myself up in my studio for a couple weeks making all sorts of useless cyclical machines, and somehow thought to have the walkers all make their way into a big pot of soup like lemmings or soilent green. I made an elevator that picked them up in sequence and set them walking on the top of the hill, and the machine ended up looking like a big fertility goddess … she actually had a natural grace in the S-shaped movement she used to lift them to the top of the hill! The walkers are erratic and don’t always make it to the bottom smoothly, but I did manage to design a couple that could avoid the edges of the hill, so that was an exciting innovation.

In the end, the crowd got very excited and cheered for all of my walkers’ successes. When the fourth one dropped in the soup, the pot fell on a burner that ignited beneath it and triggered the next machine in the show.

Light Puddle

Analog electronic circuitry and wood.

Light Puddle

Light Puddle is an electronic organism with both local and global behaviors. Light Puddle holds a fixed amount of energy in a densely interwoven web in which light flows into darkness. Your presence in front of the puddle will draw light towards you like water flowing into the depressions of a landscape.

{ Video }

Hartford Atheneum (Hartford, CT) 2006
ArtSpace Gallery (New Haven, CT) 2006
Boston Cyberarts Festival (Cambridge, MA) 2003

Artworks 1992-2001

Check it out in a separate window.

The Rafelandia website is an archive of my work from 1992-2002, presented as a full flash website. My sculpture, titled “love” is buried there among associations and metaphors, and some of my older professional work – “money” – is presented with detailed attention to aesthetics.

The site design is intended to reveal related work to web surfers who dive deeper into content that interests them, but it is a bit cumbersome for my speedier approach to viewing most websites today. Check it out in the frame above, or in a separate window.

This site was designed and built in collaboration with mogeworks design.