The popular interactive toy known as the Furby, introduced by Tiger Electronics in 1998, has become an easy target for creative circuit-bending. Featuring multiple touch points, a motion sensor, microphone, and infrared ports, the Furby responds to various types of input with movement and speech in both English and Furbish. Furby Youth Choir is a small army of modified Furbys which together produce a surreal and stochastic cacophony of tones, buzzes, squeals, and glitched-out demented laughter. Newly installed switches and potentiometers offer some degree of control, but the aleatoric sounds emerging from the bent circuits frequently surprise even the conductor of this robotic choir.
The first public performance of the Furby Youth Choir was listed as a recommended event by the Austin Chronicle, with the following warning: “you have every right to be afraid of those furry hellions.” Video from a live performance at Maker Faire 2007 is available here. You can also hear an interview with the conductor and clips from a live performance at Dorkbot 12 in an mp3 from radio station WPSU.
2008 was a busy year for the Furby Youth Choir, with numerous performances in Texas at events such as Art Outside, Maker Faire, and Myschievia, as well as Bent Festival (in New York City) and Burning Man (in Nevada). Many of these performances are immortalized in Refurbished, a documentary film by John Moore that has been making the festival rounds. Refurbished won the Best Documentary Short award at Docufest Atlanta in 2009! You can now view this documentary online.

Refurbished from John Spottswood Moore on Vimeo.

In June 2009, a review of a live show was posted on the Make blog. In July, Brigade Neurale published a Furby Youth Choir interview! English text follows the French translation.
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