Posted tagged ‘electronic’

Electronic circuits, Arduino and others

May 27, 2009

It must seem like I’ve been quiet recently but I have been doing stuff. ‘Stuff’ is probably the best word to use here because it is encompasses quite a varied group of ‘things’ as a description.

Here’s a break down of my recent activities:

Reading Digital Arts, by Christiane Paul: I was actually supposed to have done this at the start of the academic year as it was listed as ‘recommended reading’ but no one really does that right?

More Pattern making: some were failures – I started giving in and doing my own thing again but I pulled back and said ‘No Sara you must follow the rules’ so I went back to using my handy Islamic Design book and did some new patterns.

Remember doing this in school?

Remember doing this in school?

This one had potential but then I didn't like the way it was going

This one had potential but then I didn't like the way it was going

Another naughty pattern

Another naughty pattern

It’s always frustrating trying to get the lines, angles and circles in the right places but I persevered. Now I have some new patterns to work with to create some more laser cut panels. I want to do more complicated patterns to really experiment with light and shadow effects.

Back to following the rules

Back to following the rules

Underlying grid is easy to see in this image which looks quite interesting as a whole

Underlying grid is easy to see in this image which looks quite interesting as a whole

Hand cut pattern in black card

Hand cut pattern in black card

I’m pleased with this (above image) – even though it looks quite simple it took a while to get to that stage. The star shaped flowers are not accurate at all but I’ll be fixing that up when I make a digital version using Photoshop and Illustrator. I will probably add more detail to the larger shapes though, as I think details look better when enlarged with a light source on a wall – almost like a projection.Using this hand cut method allows me to get a rough idea of what the laser cut design will look like in mdf.

Visiting the Library: I rarely go to the library anymore. Not because I don’t like reading or even just looking at the pictures in books but because I prefer to have my own copies. That way I know I won’t find any unusual stains in between the pages, nor will I have to worry about returning it in time in order to avoid a fine. Anyway so back to the story at hand – I decided that forking out £26 for ‘Physical Computing’ by Dan O’Sullivan and Tom Igoe, was slightly beyond my current budget and it would make sense to just go and borrow it. So off I went to LCC and I’m glad to say no stains have been discovered as yet.

I’ll write a review on both books at some point.

Electronics/Arduino board workshop: Leon, a current Camberwell PhD student was doing this workshop for us last Wednesday (20th May). A brief overview of how it works was provided, as well as some useful links (http://www.arduino.cc/). I spent a good amount of time trying to familiarise myself with the different parts of the boards whilst putting together a set for infra-red detecion. Had to look up different types of resistors, transistors, and all those kinds of bits and bobs to make sure I was putting the right ones in the right places.

Arduino board image from arduino.cc

Arduino board image from http://www.arduino.cc

We then moved on to testing Isaac’s (fellow student: http://www.isaac.alg-a.org/) motor circuit which had a light sensitive resistor attached to it. This set was programmed to turn on an LED and start a motor faster or slower according to the light detected by it. The code looks quite similar to PHP and other complicated programming languages that I really need to start learning at some point. Or maybe I think they are complicated because getting to know it better is something I keep putting off and is almost my excuse for delaying the process?

Getting to know a circuit

Getting to know a circuit

My fear of learning this new but potentially hard stuff is not greater than my wanting to complete my project to a high standard.

Another idea

January 16, 2009

I’ve been thinking about how I can take my experimentation and pattern-making to the next level. I have my mid-point review coming up in March and need to start making some significant progress otherwise I won’t be making the most of it. Plus the way I see it, the more work I do now the more I can develop my ideas and learn from my mistakes and early prototyping which should then lead to something much stronger at the end.

In the next few weeks I’m planning to make a small interactive installation which basically consists of a circuit of lights (LEDs) on a grid where the user can switch them on and off to then produce a pattern. The control of the lights would be through another grid of buttons that correspond with the lights on the other board. Each button would control the corresponding lights – turning them on or off.

I was trying to imagine how the user would react to this piece. Would they know what to do with the buttons/lights? Or would they need to be told. Then I realised that the user is not going to have a clue what this grid of lights is and will just start playing with it. What if they create any type of image out of the lights, random doodles, shapes, anything? Why would they assume it had anything to do with patterns? And how would I restrict their use of the device and therefore make it related to my actual subject of Islamic patterns?

Well, whilst discussing the practicalities of making the piece with Kenji (full time student) who knows a bit about electronics, I realised there was a way to not only restrict the user from doing something completely of their own accord, but also make them aware of some characteristics that make up an Islamic pattern. I don’t want to give the game away just yet though as I want my fellow students to figure it out for themselves when it comes to the mid-point review. I’m hoping to have this ready by then.

I’m really looking forward to this! Let’s just hope that it actually works when the time comes!

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

November 8, 2008


Prepare yourself – this could quite possibly be my longest post so far. I always say to myself that I’ll make them more short and snappy but they never are.

We went on a bit of a school trip last week Wednesday (29th Nov 2008). Ok, I know we’re not in school and we didn’t have to hold hands with partners but still; it just reminded me of school.

Our first stop was at Haunch of Venison near Bond Street to see Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s collection of work. These were spread over three floors and amounted to 7 very different projects. I won’t talk about all of these in detail so here is a brief description:

Microphone (2008) – spotlight on solitary microphone. Speak into it, your voice is recorded and then a previous message recorded maybe a couple hours ago would be played back to you in response. This cycles through so that later in a similar situation your message will be played to someone else.

Alpha Blend Shadow Box 7 (2008) – a framed plasma screen television is divided into four blocks. Each block showing a different video of the same view of yourself. An inbuilt camera enables the viewer to be captured and reflected back to them through the television. The images of previous viewers are blended and layered so that it appears that someone else may be standing next to you when there actually is no one there. As with the microphone the image of you is recorded and kept and then shown to someone else later on. Quite spooky.

Glories of Accounting (2005) – The following is taken from http://www.lozano-hemmer.com/eproyecto.html

“an interactive installation with a surveillance system that detects the position of the public in the exhibition room. When someone walks into the room, large hands appear on the screen automatically. The hands rotate along their forearm axis, following the visitor with the open palms always facing him or her. As more people enter the room, more hands appear and each follows a member of the public. “

Less Than Three (2008) – This took up a very large wall with the accumulation of tube lights from one side to the other. They formed a network of various paths from one end of the wall to the other. An intercom was placed at each end. It took us a few minutes to figure this one out. When you speak into one intercom your message is converted into electric form to create a flashing path through the network of tubes and then finishes at the other end where your message is repeated through the other intercom. The longer the audio the longer the path of flashes is and the longer it takes to get to the other side.

Reporters with Borders (2008) – The following is taken from the Haunch of Venison Press release www.haunchofvenison.com/media/8537/hovl%20-%20rlh%20-%20press%20release.pdf

“A new installation Reporters with Borders dominates the top floor gallery. Infra-red sensors detect the presence of viewers, bringing large composite projections of Mexican and American TV news reporters to life within the viewers’ silhouettes. Arranged according to distinctions such as male/female, Mexican/US, light-skinned/dark-skinned, eyes open/eyes closed, the previously still figures begin to report the news animatedly, their voices rising to a cacophonous chorus.”

Airport Cluster Plot (2001) – Ok to be honest I really didn’t get this one. It was not interactive as the others were and didn’t seem to do anything which was a stark difference as well. This was a graphic representation of the floor plans of 35 international airports all overlaid by a computer programme. According to the leaflet we were given at the reception desk, this piece “suggests the accelerated movement and hyper-activity of the contemporary global condition“.

Pulse Tank (2008) – I was very impressed by the interactive elements of each piece but my favourite was the ‘Pulse Tank’ which uses different elements including water, light, electronically controlled pistons, sensors, and a glass tank all connected together in some form but with no visible wires.

At the head of the tank there was a metal panel with the outline to two palms. This indicated that the viewer is required to place there hands upon this . There would then come the sound of a slow heart beat like rhythm which would begin to speed up after a while. There were also small thin plastic tubes around the tank were other participants were required to place their fingers (indicated by small graphic labels).

A metal piston type thing (really not sure what it was) would then jab/tap the water in the tank at the rate of the person’s pulse as sensed through the placement of the finger into the tube. This would create a ripple effect in the water. With all tubes occupied, ripples would meet in the centre of the tank of water to create a myriad of circles, lines and diagonals from all sides. The sound of all pulses could be heard from the speakers and the light shone onto the tank would be reflected by the water onto the floor as well as the ceiling. The overall effect was quite lovely.

—-

Our second stop was the Barbican to see Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s other installation ‘Frequency and Volume‘ in the Curve Art Gallery. Once again this was a highly interactive project using radio technology to pick up on radio signals at different frequencies.

As you enter the space you see a tower of aerials in the shape of a pylon. I almost dismissed this myself. I somehow knew it was just part of the method for obtaining the signals and so carried on till I came to the curved wall section. The spotlights on the inner wall create giant shadows of you as you move past. These shadows would then be outlined onto the outer wall onto a large black projection. As you move the channels change. You become the tuner of the radio and can choose to switch from BBC Radio 4 to some random pirate station for example. Sometimes the signals were strong and clear and you could hear a loud chart hit. At other times you would hear rushing sounds and distant murmuring.

There were a couple of kids mucking about in the middle – experimenting with the effects of their shadows and playing out a sort of drama for their unexpected audience. They were revelling in the attention they got from us few viewers. This made me laugh but I could see the fun. If I was by myself I would have run from one end to the other to see if the channels would change as fast as I was running and if the transition from one to the other would be smooth or erratic.

This was a cool project. Most of Lozano-Hemmer’s stuff is cool. I don’t use the word lightly. He has done something quite different from other electronic/digital artists and combined it with the activities of humans – engaging their interest through sound and movement and most importantly their participation. Therefore I cannot wait for his new project for Trafalgar Square!

You can read up more about Lozano-Hemmer’s history, background, past and future projects on his site: http://www.lozano-hemmer.com/

More useful links:

http://www.haunchofvenison.com/en/#page=london.current.rafael_lozano-hemmer

http://www.barbican.org.uk/artgallery/event-detail.asp?ID=7879