Andrew Niess, PhD
audiovisual researcher | instrument maker | editor

Breath-controlled Instrument Design for Ecological Crises


This master’s thesis figures the normative relationship between ethics and method in North American humanities institutions as a problem of design. As one possible counter-design, it offers a breath-controlled instrument that connects the user’s breath to real-time air quality conditions. In the first part of this thesis, I identify designs that sustain anthropocentric normativity in the humanities and advocate a research practice that intentionally aligns problem, form, and relational outcomes. In the second part, I present a technical overview of the instrument, its computational methods, and its material and electronic components. For reference and repurposing, I also include supplementary files: a video demonstration of the instrument and a Max/MSP patch with supporting JavaScript files.

Thesis, video, and JavaScript and Max patch files freely accessible through ScholarlyCommons here.

For video demonstration, see three breathing places.