Programming Media II – Projects
#1 Make Things Do Things
Computer Numerical Control (CNC) / Computer-Controlled Automation was initially invented to increase industrial productivity by having machines autonomously make things. The movements and actions of the various components of such machines are controlled and coordinated by behavior formulated in software.
But machines do not always have to be this purposeful and pragmatic. We can use the various components provided by the industry and the possibilities of giving them behavior through software as ingredients, cooking up new and surprising uses of once pragmatic devices.
Use the Arduino platform and the knowledge acquired in the lab sessions about the various actuators (servos, motors, solenoids) and sensors to build a computer controlled mechanism that exhibits a curious, engaging, fascinating, surprising or expressive behavior. It is up to you to define your machine’s actions.
- Dance, walk, crawl, roll, jump
- Leave a trace, make marks
- Shine lights, make lights dance
- Produce artifacts
- Destroy things
Keep it mechanically simple so you can put all energy into refining the motion and aesthetic quality of the machine.
Refer to Richard Serra’s Verb List Compilation: Actions to Relate to Oneself from 1968 as a source of inspiration for possible actions that the machine could enact.
- Use at least one actuator (motor, servo, solenoid, ^)
- Control the actuator(s) with software running on an Arduino board
- You are allowed to use any materials and processes, but keep it simple and familiar so you are not getting stuck building the mechanics
- You may use sensors, as a way to influence the construction’s behavior
#2 Perform, Make Things, Make Things Perform
Build a sound- or noise-making contraption, with the aim to collectively perform a piece of improvised music (in the extended sense) by the end of the quarter.
Your contraption can be an instrument to be played by hand, using any of the various sensors introduced in the labs (or other), a machine controlled by a mechanical or digital score, or any kind of electronic device that produces a controllable sound.
See your contraption as a tool, and consider the level of control and expression that the interface to it will over. As performers we do not require an endless amount of flexibility from our instruments, sometimes simple subtle ways of influencing the sound are enough to build a device that allows us to develop an intuitive sense for the expressiveness it offers, and trough exercise become good at playing it.
Possible references for your projects are endless. To list a few:
- John Cage’s “Water Walk”, as performed in January, 1960 on the TV show “I’ve Got A Secret”.
- The Japanese Art Group Maywa Denki, run as a nonsensical company producing unique pieces, mass-produced products and performances. Videos: Performance at UCLA, 2010, Adam and Joe go Tokyo: Meiwa Denki, Book Xylophone.
- Tim Hawkinson's Uberorgan (Short Interview by Art:21)