Our next challenge is to explore how we might decorate the Carolan guitar with interactive patterns. Where should we place them and how should we best map them to various ways of accessing its digital footprint? After some to-ing and fro-ing, we home in on a design that attempts to balance an appreciation of the form and structure of the instrument with an anticipation of the kinds of people that will encounter it, where such encounters might take place, and what they might subsequently do with it.
The headstock of a guitar traditionally features a maker’s logo, and so we chose to place a discrete aestheticode at this location that will link to a digital version of our maker’s label, giving its name, presenting the concept and acknowledging the team.
We decide that the front soundboard of the guitar will tell its official story; that is the history of how it was made and where it has visited since, as curated by ourselves. An interactive aesthticode will be embedded into a flowing celtic knotwork pattern that runs across the soundboard, from the lower bout, passing under the strings, to the upper bouts where it incorporate a series of soundholes. This will be scannable by people who are close to the guitar, perhaps picking it up or being shown it by a friend. Mind you, we’ll have to be careful not to weaken the critical vibrating surface of the lower bout.
Where this pattern runs under the strings, it will subtly transform into a different code, one that maps onto technical documentation about the design and build of the instrument. This code will only be readable by someone who removes the strings, that is by someone who routinely maintains or even occasionally repairs the guitar. Someone who has an especially intimate relationship with it such as its owner or creator.
We choose to take a different tack with the back of the guitar. We’re reserving this for the guitar’s unofficial history – its public blog on which people can comment or post photos, videos and recordings wherever they encounter it. We’ve chosen the back so that we can make this pattern as large as possible, enabling it to be scanned from the greatest distance away we can manage, for example by an audience in a small auditorium if it is left displayed stage, or by passersby looking through a shop window. Of course the guitar will have to be displayed with its back facing outwards. We appreciate that this is a bit weird, but something appeals about the idea of presenting the decorated back of the instrument as an explicit invitation for an audience to engage with it. And as we say, the back is the largest surface we have to play with.
We get a bit playful with our final two decorations. Remember the soundhole on the top side of our instrument? We decide that this will become it’s musical voice. Scanning this soundhole will play back one or more songs or tunes that have been recorded on the guitar. It may even allow players to upload their own recordings to add to its collection.
Finally, there’s a small pattern hidden away in an intimate nook of the guitar. You’ll really have to know the guitar well (or perhaps have read this blog) to find and scan this one. Consequently, it will trigger something unusual, playful and interesting. Mind you, we’re not yet sure what this will be. Indeed, we welcome any suggestions you might have. Please post a comment below with any ideas for what this final interaction with Carolan’s digital footprint could be?