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Fieldwork's Musically Articulated Visual Illustration System (MAVIS)

Gareth Halfacree

MAVIS may seem like an odd name for an electronics project, but the backronym works: it's the Musically Articulated Visual Illustration System, a project created by Fieldwork for the Science of Play at the Design Manchester event. As the name suggests, MAVIS is a blend of audible and visual feedback, housed inside neat-looking device which is part plotter and part organ. Powered by an Arduino - which is secured to the ARDX acrylic plate we designed in conjunction with MadLab, as found in our Arduino Prototyping Bundle - and a small computer, MAVIS is designed to encourage teamwork: one player cranks the handle while the other presses down on the keys to play music. As the music is played, the keys also press down on a roller which prints a visual representation of the session on a long sheet of paper while the Arduino feeds the information back to a website which reproduces the same image electronically for all to see. It's a great build, made even better by Fieldwork's attention to detail and the excellent behind-the-scenes footage they have published - giving any interested party a real feel for the work that went into MAVIS' creation.

MAVIS (Musically Articulated Visual Illustration System) is a hand-built keyboard, connected to a computer and the internet via an Arduino. Play the keys to make sounds as someone else turns the handle, and MAVIS draws lines on the spooling paper as you go. When you're done, cut off your print and take it with you.

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