A pattern of four faded lights moves clockwise around the perimeter of the white shadowbox frames. The faded lights are subtle and are on the lower right side in the photograph. The acrylic face pushes three inches beyond the front of the frame, as if trying to escape the past. The single row of LEDs looks like thirty rows because the 144 lights are sandwiched between two-way mirrors on the front and standard mirrors toward the wall. The Arduino Mega micro-controller is mounted into an acrylic iPod box.
The acrylic face was thermo-formed in Industrial Design’s plastics lab. 3/16″ acrylic was cut, mounted, heated, and pulled over a vacuum frame. The ceramic bisque mask was lifted into the drooping hot acrylic as a vacuum formed the clear acrylic around the mask. I drilled 1/16″ holes into the mask and support board before testing various thicknesses of acrylic.
Next, I plan to use two acrylic faces in frames that communicate alternately with one another. RGB LEDs should flash brighter and faster as people approach a hidden sonar proximity detector, Ping))).
Max MSP 6 groove tutorials by Joel Rich inspired this patcher (program).
Parallax makes an ultrasonic distance sensor that interfaces with Arduino’s micro-controllers. This is a set-up of PING))), Arduino UNO 3, Arduino’s motor shield, a voltage regulator, and two 12-volt brushless fans. The fans rev up when PING))) detects anyone less than a foot from the sensor. Learning to use millis instead of delays in the programming code allows more frequent updates to the RGB LCD (red-green-blue liquid crystal display). I mounted the LCD on a backpack that has user interface buttons for color control. The next step is to create blinking eyelids that blink faster as someone approaches.
Mac G5 computer parts that processed images, videos, and music programs since 2004 are now components of an Electronics and Experimental Systems assignment, “Into the Uncanny Valley.” This is information from our assignment:
“The uncanny valley draws on the philosophy of the uncanny that was first made popular by Sigmund Freud in his 1919 essay Das Unheimliche, where he proposes that the uncanny is not something wholly uknown or alien but rather is something that is strangely familiar.
In electromechanically driven kinetic art, there is often a tendency to react to the work much in the way that one would react to the uncanny—whether because of how it moves, in the motor and mechanism chosen, or why it moves, in the data-driven, sensor-based interactivity, or other programmatic behaviors.”
I plan to build on this project for my Senior Thesis and May, 2014 gallery installation. I would like to add a vertical component to the eye movement and a pair of eyelids. Each portion of the project worked well (servo and linkage for horizontal movement, servo and linkage for vertical movement, and solenoid to blink eyelids) but combining the hardware and C++ code was problematic. Over the summer, I’m learning C++ and working on a way to fit eyelids over moving clevis connections.
The final Electronics and Experimental Systems project was to use servos or motors to relate a sense of the uncanny—something close enough to reality that it is a bit uncomfortable or creepy. I chose my obsolete G5 computer case to house two pairs of Tech-Optics eyes. The animatronic eyes housed LEDs that became brighter as the ambient light dimmed. The second pair of eyes, in acrylic hemispheres, moved from side to side, according to motion detection in the room. The eyes were guided by Parallax infrared sensors that communicated with an Arduino UNO R3 microcontroller. Planning steps included wiring diagrams, support structure plans, and power supply placement for the primary components: Micro-controllers, LEDs (light-emitting diodes), PIR (passive infrared) sensors, servos, and solenoid (to blink the eyelids). This is the first version of the Fritzing wiring diagram. If you want to see a larger version, just click on the image.
These words display in a series of 12 screens: “What is it that drives humanity to create art? Perhaps emotions find voices in time and space when we make art. Perhaps I can find the time to create art.” Then patterns flash through cut-out letters to create geometric graphics.
Our class assignment was to create a project with an arduino micro-controller and LED or L-wire lights. I began with two meters of LED strips from Adafruit and an idea that originated with an $1100 word clock on Biegert & Funk’s ClockTwo website. Instead of using RGB LEDs to create words for the time of day, I used them to create dialog about art. This is a first step. I can change the text and the Arduino programming to re-purpose the project for my senior gallery installation. I’m considering using the mirrored frame for the title of my gallery exhibit.
1) 12″ shadow box frame, with glass and backing
2) two-way acrylic mirror
3) black vinyl text cut-out that was mounted onto clear acrylic
4) translucent white acrylic panel, used to diffuse the LEDs
5) laser-cut black acrylic grid pieces that were assembled to isolate individual LEDs; laser patterns are attached:
6) electronics board (white dry erase board) with ten mounted RGB LED strips, soldered wire connections between the strips, and a soldered power harness
7) Arduino pin connection to individually address 110 LEDs
8) black foam core spacer
9) Arduino Mega micro-controller and project box
10) 5-volt 10 amp power supply with a barrel plug
Programming the light sequences and uploading the code to the Arduino Mega (from SparkFun Electronics) were the final steps. With more time, I could condense some of the code, but my priority was meeting a critique deadline. Here’s the code that also includes an Arduino RAM check that is viewed on the serial monitor: project_code
Spring Semester brings new challenges and, so far, lots of fun. During the first week of class, I learned about MaKey MaKey, a circuit board created by Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum, when they were MIT Ph.D. students. With the arduino-based board, a single USB connection, and some alligator-clipped wires, anything conductive can operate a computer keyboard. Here’s a video of Beau Silver, Jay’s brother, who is a Stanford Master’s student and creator of the Bananamaphone:
For a class group project, “Mary Had a Little Lamb” will be played on lamb chops. No, I’m not touching the chops, but I’ve learned to use the software, Soundplant 39, to add a lamb bleat to the tune that classmates will play. Soundplant allows computer keys to play a sound file. Music notes and the lamb audio file were adjusted and clipped in Final Cut Studio. Using Arduino C++ coding, an anti-static wrist strap, and some speakers, Tuesday’s project is coming together. This is a screen capture of Soundplant on a blacked-out laptop screen. I created a black desktop image, replaced blue desktop folders with black ones, hid the dock, and used Menu Eclipse 2 to darken the menu bar and eliminate desktop distractions.