Sneakers of Samothrace 1.0 and Rap Shoes 2.0

The Sneaker of Samothrace is a wearable Musical Instrument invented to assist physically challenged children in taking that difficult next step!  When children wear my magic sneakers they become their own musical instrument.  For kids who have handicaps this is a great "Inspirer!" As my Sneakers generate music they seem to say, "Move forward into life with rhythm and confidence! Make your own music! Be your own groove!"

 Life is massively challenging for the physically challenged. My sneakers are empowering and encouraging. 

Do they really work? Can I really make music just by moving my feet?

Watch a playlist where I demonstrate three different versions of the sneakers. I wish I were a very rich girl so I could develop all the creative ideas I have. I try to make the world a better place, but it's hard when you're a "financially challenged" composer, painter and poet!

If you watch this playlist you will see me 1. working with disabled children  2. explaining how the shoes work, 3. playing the sneakers in a serious New Music classical setting.

What are these crazy sounds?

The Sneakers of Samothrace incorporate experimental sounds and techniques; electronics and acoustic sounds; traditional Native American singing and percussion; and natural sounds taken from field recordings – including whales, dolphins, ospreys, ravens, meadow larks, and other  singers of nature. The Sneakers are a modern instrument of transformation.

How did you get the idea?

I've been a Hospital Audiences artist for fifteen years, working with the disabled, the retarded, the very ill and the very old. I am also a Native Educator. I do programs for thousands of school children each year as "Phoebe Songbundle, Teacher of Environmental Respect." My specialty is children with learning disabilities and special needs.  These young children, dealing with amputations and all manner of challenges knocked me out! *WOW* I was deeply impressed by their courage, their joy and their generosity.

The children loved  music and were highly musical, but many of the disabled children I was meeting were born with disorders that prevented them from having the fine motor skills you need to play modern instruments. Music is medicine and I knew that they needed more of it! So I thought, what could I create that would allow ANYONE to make music?  The idea was born of necessity. My first idea was the V-Link, a keyboard that would be played by someone in a wheelchair. 

Thank you to all who helped me and

The sneakers build on ideas first introduced by Laetitia Sonami's Ladies Glove  and the Gait Shoe, a strictly midi apparatus developed at the MIT Media lab.

As my idea for a Rap Shoe took shape I was super inspired. I needed sophisticated software and programming to produce a shoe that would use real audio samples, giving a child the ability to select a groove at will and then choose other sounds to mix and match with it - thus creating his or her own original hip hop "on the fly."

 In 2003 I was named Artist in Residence at School of Visual Arts.  I studied Art Installation with Perry Hoberman (Laurie Anderson's tech whiz.) and I learned computer programming and electronics.  Dafna Naftali of Harvestworks was deeply involved in the programming of Sneakers 1.0.

Jim Staley of Roulette was encouraging and supportive of my early work, producing two concerts at Roulette where I played the sneakers in a serious New Music classical context. I was honored to be selected to be an Artist in residence at STEIM in Amsterdam and Scholar in residence in the Graduate school of Computer Science  in the Department of Musical Intelligence at the  University of Vancouver.  I researched many alternative sensors, eventually using sonar, gyroscopes and accelerometers to make my sneakers work.

I wish to thank my colleagues at IRCAM who were geniunely supportive of my work as an artist. MAX MSP at Cycling '74, and Adidas provided a small amount of funding for early development.

Why did you call them the Sneakers of Samothrace?
Nike means Victory - NIKE, a good friend of Zeus,  symbolizes movement, triumph and courage. The Nike of Samothrace is one of the most beautiful art works ever created. It was found on the island of Samothrace.