Mohato Lekena is Computer Scientist, musician and interaction designer based in Cape Town’s CDB currently perusing an M.Sc. at the University of Cape Town. He has been named one of the Mail and Gardian’s 200 Young People who will influence the future of the country, and as a South African representitive in the British Council’s Future Music Rising Campaign.
This is a list of selected work he has produced and projects that he has been involved with.
01: Xen Mobile Drum Sequencer
Goal: To explore new ways of expressing rhythm and drum sequencing on a mobile multi-touch system
Technologies used: C# for Windows Phone, XNA, Virtual Studio
Overview: Digital music software can limit the forms of music we create by using interfaces that directly copy those of the analogue instruments that came before. In this study, a novel multi-touch interface that affords a completely new form of drum sequencing was designed and implemented. Based on ideas from Avant-Guard music and embodied interaction, it was deployed as a technology probe and then evaluated by a wide range of users. The main interaction metaphor revolved around allowing users to draw loops on the mobile device and have these loops played out by the system. The speed of the loops could be altered using accelerometer based interactions. It was found that for users with no musical training, and for users with a large amount of musical training, the software did allow them to be more creative. However, users with limited training on existing sequencing software found the new interface challenging.
02: Orbital Antics Android Game
Goal: Create a physics based Android game
Technologies used: Android, Eclipse, jbox2d Library
Orbital Antics is a physics based platform game for Android developed by a team of Mohato Lekena and 3 other people. Movement of the player’s avatar, which is a ball, is controlled by the orientation of the user’s device, which tilts the axis of the game’s gravity. Beyond this, users can also control pin-ball like flippers and a limited “boost” which thrusts the avatar forward. The game was pretty fun in the end.
03: Still Life Generative Sequencer
Goal: To create a generative, AI based sound device that explores concepts of composition and ownership of creativity
Technologies used: Processing, MaxMSP, Ableton
Overview: Still Life is a generative, AI based sound sequencing and manipulation interface. The interface revolves around a moving visualisation that explores a two dimensional environment according to the rules of a primitive AI. The movements and behaviours of this visualisation are then used to inform various parameters of the sound produced.
The behaviours of the visualisation, and by extension the sound produced by the interface, also vary as the interface’s environment changes, cycling between three states. These states are visualised by a darkening and lighting of the background, and these changes make the visualisation’s movements more or less erratic. Interactivity is achieved my clicking anywhere on the two dimensional space. Doing this “suggests” an area for the interface to explore, although this suggestion may be ignored.
04: iMobile data visualization project
Goal: Explore alternative methods of representing user data on mobile devices
Technologies used: Android, Eclipse, SQLite
Overview: The contemporary desktop metaphor used on many modern PC’s has been shown to be both inefficient and out-dated in terms of usability. Regardless of this though, many concepts associated with the desktop metaphor, such as hierarchical filing, are being used on mobile computing platforms. Since, at the PC level, various desktop replacement systems have been both suggested and built, what this project seeks to do was to port an amalgamation of some of these systems concepts to the mobile platform. In doing so, the research questions explored revolved around (1) whether or not such a mobile system can be built to a high level of usability and (2) whether or not such a system would be preferable to the popular Android mobile Interface. The main interaction metaphor revolved around not regarding file type at all when displaying information (such as text message, PDF, or MP3), but rather always order items by time – using search extensively and allowing users to save search queries. Technically, the project focussed on building databases of meta-information used for the searching, and implementing drawn gestures for shortcuts. It was concluded from the study that, in terms of data organisation, having a search based user interface is more efficient and usable than the current application based hierarchically filed Android system.
Goal: Present an audio visual performance for TEDxSTELLENBOSCH
Technologies used: Processing, PureData, Adobe Premiere, Logic Pro
Overview: In early 2012 we (glowLDB) were invited to produce a remix for TEDxStellenbosch in collaboration with the TEDx Global Music Project. Our piece was to be based on material from the growing archive of TEDx musical performances that is the TEDx Global Music Project.
Our first goal was to expand on the remix concept by not simply creating a collage of found sounds (the conventional approach). This view led us to create an abstract sound world which involved extensive planning, processing and attention to detail. We decided early on to produce an audiovisual piece in which the sonic and visual elements were interdependent.
In order to compose the piece we chose a framework of two rules. Firstly we sought to explore the TED aesthetic in colour, movement and form. Secondly we worked exclusively with sound samples from TEDx musical performances. Our visual elements were produced in Processing and much of our sound design was generated in Pure Data. The final composition was arranged in Logic Pro and Adobe Premiere.
06: Cover Designs
Goal: Create digital covers for various Wildebeats projects
Overview: as part of my Wildebeats production projects, I’ve had to design a number of covers for singles that would act as the music’s online image. All design here was completed in GIMP
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