Tag Archives: art installation

Parkinson’s disease body illusion

via Raspberry Pi

Transports is an interactive installation from Analogue, a theatre/art group, sponsored by the Wellcome Trust, which creates the illusion that the viewer is experiencing Parkinson’s symptoms. As in the rubber hand illusion, the mind is tricked into believing that the user’s hand is the hand shown in some point-of-view video; while a glove with motors makes them feel the tremors associated with the disease.

The whole setup is controlled by a Raspberry Pi. The installation takes the user through a number of everyday tasks from the perspective of Andrew, a man in his thirties with Parkinson’s, who is about to give a speech at a friend’s wedding. Andrew’s experience is informed by a body of first-person data that Analogue collected from the blogs of people dealing with Parkinson’s, and interviews with patients.

This installation isn’t being exhibited as public art at the moment; instead, it’s being used to raise awareness and promote empathy among health professionals and carers. Psychology students are also using it; and there are plans to refine the whole thing by using Oculus Rift or a similar VR headset, and by shrinking the apparatus on the glove.

You can read more about Transports at Analogue’s site, or at the New Scientist.

Art Showcase: Escape III

via Raspberry Pi

Hey all! It’s Rachel again. I have another amazing Art Showcase for you. This time Neil Mendoza explains how he and Anthony Goh brought these animated bird sculptures to life with the help of a Raspberry Pi, some Arduinos and lots of old mobile phone parts.

I really love this one XD – read right to the bottom if you want to see the birds in action. Over to Neil…

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Mobile phones are ubiquitous in today’s society, but often their use has unintended consequences, intruding into and changing social situations, distancing people in in real life by dragging them into the digital world.  They are also a massive source of electronic waste.  A few years ago this inspired Anthony Goh and me (Neil Mendoza) to create an installation that takes cast-off devices and suggests an alternate reality in which these unwanted phones and noises become something beautiful, giving them a new life by creating an experience that people can share together in person.  The Barbican recently asked commissioned us to create a new flock of birds for their awesome Digital Revolution exhibition.  Here’s a little tech breakdown of how they work.

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In previous versions, the birds were independent, but this time we decided to have a Raspberry Pi at the heart of the installation controlling them all.  This gave us the most flexibility to animate them independently or choreographed them together.

The exhibition is travelling so we wanted the installation to be as easy to set up as possible to so we decided to make each bird talk to the Raspberry Pi over ethernet.  This means that communications are reliable over long distances and each bird is self-contained and only needs a power and data cable connected to it.

The next challenge to overcome was to figure out how to call a bird.  In previous incarnations, each bird included a functioning mobile phone that you could call.  However, as there is no reception in the gallery, we decided to include a different era of phone junk and make people call the birds with a rotary phone from the 1940s.  The system looks something like this…

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To make the phone feel phoney, the receiver is connected to a serial mp3 player, controlled by an Arduino that plays the appropriate audio depending on the state of the installation, e.g. dialling tone, bird song etc.  The Arduino also reads numbers that from the rotary dial and if one of the birds’ numbers is dialled it sends it over ethernet to the Raspberry Pi.

The iBirdBrain app running on the Raspberry Pi is written in openFrameworks.  When iBirdBrain receives a number from the phone, it wakes the appropriate bird up and tells it to move randomly.  It then picks an animation created using James George’s ofxTimeline and plays it with some added randomness.  The current state of each part of the bird is sent every frame over ethernet as a three byte message:

Byte 1: Type, e.g. ‘s’ for servo

Byte 2: Data 1, e.g. servo index

Byte 3: Data 2, e.g. servo angle

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So the status of the app could be seen quickly without needing to SSH into the Pi we decided to use a PiTFT screen.  To begin with we rendered the OpenGL output of the app to the PiTFT screen, however as the screen runs at 20 FPS this created an unnecessary bottleneck.  In the end, we decided to set the screen up so that it would render the console output from the openFrameworks app.  After that, the app ran at a solid 60 FPS.  Outputting a '\r' character to the console goes back to the beginning of the line, so I used this to create a constantly updating console output that didn’t scroll, e.g.:

cout << ‘\r’ << statusMessage;

The birds themselves each contain an Arduino.  They speak ethernet using an ENC28J60 ethernet module and this library.  To start with I used TCP but running a TCP stack along with all the other stuff we were asking the bird to do, proved a little too much for its little brain so we moved to using UDP as it requires less memory and processor cycles.  An ID for each bird was programmed into the EEPROM of the Arduino.  That way, there only needed to be one firmware for all the birds, the birds themselves would then set all of their data, IP address, peripherals etc based on their ID.

Each bird has multiple parts that are controlled by the Arduino, servos for the wings and heads, piezo sounders, Neopixels and a screen for the face.

Escape III is on display at Digital Revolution until 14th September at the Barbican in London – I’m so excited, I’m going next week!

If you can’t make it, you can see the birds here:

Art Showcase: Binaudios

via Raspberry Pi

Hey all – Rachel here!

I have spent the last year talking with lots of artists who are making amazing things with Raspberry Pis. Every day my inbox is PINGing with exciting progress news. So I’m going to start showcasing some of these projects on the blog. I find them incredibly inspiring – I hope you do too!

I’m going to kick off with a piece from one of my favourite artists: Dominic Wilcox. I bet you’ve seen some of his work kicking around the internet – He made the GPS shoes which guided you home and did some narrative sculptures inside watch faces.

binaudiosmam

This time he’s partnered up with Creative Technologist James Rutherford to produce Binaudios; a device that enables the user to listen to the sounds of the city – at the moment it’s installed in the Sage Gateshead music discovery centre.

binaudistesting2

Taking tourist binoculars as inspiration, the Binaudios can be pointed at over 40 different locations, seen out of the Sage Gateshead windows. Turn the giant listening cones toward the football stadium to hear the crowd chanting or to the Tyne Bridge to hear King George V’s speech when he opened the bridge in 1928. Point it toward the park to listen to sounds such as skateboarders and local tennis players.

As the Binaudios are rotated the stereo sounds move from one ear to the other creating a real feeling of listening to the city across the river.

binaudios3

I’ve met loads of ‘Creative Technologists’ on my travels. They believe creativity and art are the driving forces behind the technology they make.

James describes his work as “somewhere between code and art”. He mainly creates software; developing visualisations, data tools or games.

BoKf_LJCAAEPQMi

Binaudios was his first Raspberry Pi project AND first go with Python! Just for you guys, he has very kindly written up how Binaudio is put together:

How Binaudios works:

Although Binaudios was developed to look like an analogue device, there’s a small selection of electronics concealed within the central wooden box. A USB lead runs up the central column, powering a Raspberry Pi. This is connected to speakers within the metal cones and a USB hub. The hub adds some extra flash memory and has a couple of ports for attaching a keyboard and mouse for debugging.

Dominic recorded a selection of sounds from across Newcastle. I load these when the device boots. There are around 40 of them, spread across the 180 degree range of movement provided by the ear-cones.

The Pi has a PiBorg XLoBorg sensor attached to the GPIO port. The XLoBorg returns a 3-axis reading of the magnetic field at a point. The Python script very roughly converts this into a compass heading (to do this properly is extremely complicated- so this is a bit of a hack). I spread this heading into two angles a couple of degrees apart to fake some left/right ear separation, pick the sound clips within a small range of these and assign some volumes. The volume profile drops-off over a few degrees which produces a naturalistic ‘telescope’ focus effect. The left/right separation also enhances this as the unit is turned.

The rest is all about smoothing. I debounce the output of the XLoBorg (it has a slight natural waver), ensure volume levels are adjusted gently (audio buffering can cause the sound to chop otherwise, which is very unnatural) and keep the sounds playing even when they are a few degrees out of audio range (this means that sounds don’t necessarily need to restart from the beginning when they are back in ‘view’).

Gotchas

The XLoBorg is a sensitive bit of kit, and magnetic fields are complicated (who knew!?). I needed to spend some time calibrating and recalibrating. Slight vertical misalignment seems to shift the compass heading much more than I first anticipated. It’s a very intriguing bit of hardware and I look forward to playing with it some more!

My test set of samples worked wonderfully, but the program failed critically when I got the real clips- some of the sounds would work, but the rest would make a single pop, or a loud, painful high-pitched wave. I never fully figured out why, but I think I was maxing out Pygame’s audio channels. Originally I was playing all of the sounds simultaneously and just shifting the volumes around (so that all but a few were zero), but I switched this to just trigger those within a small angle range – so it now plays maybe four or five at the same time. There was no failure response from the code, so I spent a manic day trying to squash, re-encode and generally poke the samples about without error reports to work on. Thankfully, the fix seems reliable.

This was my first physical project, first Pi project, and first slice of Python charming!

You can see them in action in this video or you can go and visit in person!

Binaudios was commissioned by the awesome Suzy O’Hara at Thinking Digital Arts.

Exploded Hardware Wall Art

via Hack a Day» hardware

explodedHardwareWall

The gang at Bolt.io realized that the walls in their office deserved some special attention, and they got it by mounting exploded hardware throughout the space. They sourced the used devices from eBay, then carefully broken them down into their components and mounted each on its own sheet of PETG. The result: exploded views of some of their favorite hardware, including a MacBook Pro, a Roomba, a Dyson Air Multiplier, and more.

Is it a hack? Eh, maybe. This is the first example we’ve seen of a collection of devices on display in this fashion. Regardless, it’s worth a mention considering what happened in the office as a result of the installation. Though the original purpose was simply to decorate the walls, it seems employees have been staring at them regularly, learning more about the designs, the plastics, and the component choices. Think of it as still life—depicting that moment you cracked open a device to inspect its guts—frozen in permanence and on display for both inspiration and convenience.

[via reddit | Thanks Buddy]


Filed under: hardware, teardown

‘conus’ mixes media, math and mollusks

via Hack a Day» hardware

conusCA

We love art installations that use technology in ways probably never before considered, and Moscow media artist [Dimitry Morozov] has done just that with ‘conus’, which reads the surface of mollusk shells and translates the data into real-time audio and video. These shells are unique; their pigmentation generates natural cellular automata. (If you’ve never heard of cellular automata, Conway’s Game of Life is a good example, where a rule set determines whether a cell lives, dies, or regenerates.

[Dimitry's] installation uses homemade digital microscopes to scan the naturally-created cellular automata of several shells, each rotating on its own disc. As the shell spins, the scans from the microscopes are fed into an algorithm which transforms the signals into data for multiple audio channels and three video monitors. You can watch the mathematical translation of the biologically-formed patterns in a video after the break.

Check out the MSP430 game of life shield for another example of cellular automata.


Filed under: hardware, misc hacks

This is your brain on Pi

via Raspberry Pi

We’ve only just spotted Mens Amplio, an Indiegogo project which met its target last month. It’s now being put together for the Burning Man festival, where it’ll be displayed in a couple of weeks. Mens Amplio is a fifteen-foot tall, Pi-controlled sculpture: a part-buried, giant human head made from an enormous mesh of steel. And inside, there’s a brain packed full of Endlighten acrylic rods for its neuron branches, which diffuse light from LEDs along their length.

Those lights are controlled by the brainwaves of a test subject volunteer wearing an EEG headset, changing shape and colour depending on the user’s thoughts, as interpreted by the Raspberry Pi; the eventual result is being engineered to mirror what you’d see on an MRI scan. You can read more about the work they’re doing to light up that giant brain on the Mens Amplio blog (it’s worth digging deep; this is a really interesting build), and keep up with the current state of the code they’re using on Github.

Braaaaaains.

Flames, also controlled by the Raspberry Pi, will be shooting out of the top of the thing.

The Mens Amplio team is made up of people from all the backgrounds you’d need for this sort of thing: doctors, welders, graphic designers, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s researchers, electronics engineers, brain imaging specialists, kinetic fire artists – here they are, in the video produced for their (now completed) Indiegogo fundraiser.

If you see Mens Amplio at Burning Man this year, be sure to take some video and send it to us. Best of luck to the ladies and gents of the Mens Amplio crew – we hope you have a blast on the Playa!

Know about an art project using a Pi that you think we’d be interested in?

Please tell us about it: while the hacker community is never backwards about coming forward, we’ve found that artists are curiously shy about approaching us when they’re using a Raspberry Pi, and we often learn about the Pi component of art projects like Mens Amplio too late to put the word out about fundraising or exhibitions. Rachel, our Artist in Residence, is busy doing artist and kids outreach, and we’ve got projects running with the UK Arts Council to introduce the Pi to young artists. We know there’s much, much more out there, but we need you to tell us about it. If you’ve seen something you think we should blog about, you can reach me at the usual address.

Lincoln University’s digital garden, and its gold medal

via Raspberry Pi

At this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, Lincoln University’s digital garden, which changed the way it looked depending on what people tweeted, sent messages back to people interacting with it, and did all kinds of interesting things with twenty servo motors and a lot of hinges, won a gold medal.

See if you can guess what was powering it.

We were sent some BBC news coverage, which, sadly, doesn’t actually mention the Pi behind the scenes (although it is beyond delightful for us to see Ringo Starr looking interestedly at it) – but you can read more about the Pi’s involvement, and the philosophy behind the garden, over at the Times Educational Supplement. It’s a nice reminder, though, that a single Raspberry Pi can be used to drive enormous projects like this garden as well as little things like the pile of toy cars and robots that are currently piled up on the desk I’m sitting at now.

Well done, Lincoln techno-botanists. We loved the project, and we wish we’d been able to see it in person!

Introducing our Artist in Residence, Rachel Rayns!

via Raspberry Pi

Liz: We talk a lot here about making, designing, and how computing is just as much a creative discipline as it is a technical one.

What’s this? Read on to find out…

There’s a weird dividing line in many people’s heads between creativity and technology. I hope that the projects we show you on this website demonstrate that there shouldn’t be. That dividing line puts the idea in the heads of many tech-oriented people that they aren’t any good at being creative; and vice-versa, it gives many creative people the impression that technology is not for them. This isn’t good for anyone, and it’s something we’re working to address, from school level right up to proper grown-ups.

On Tuesday I found myself in a meeting with Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair of Arts Council England, talking about the Pi’s potential as a tool for artists. We’re seeing more and more artists using the Pi in installations; it’s ideal for this sort of use, given all the exposed GPIO which can be used to sense things, drive things and make objects in the real world interactive, as well as its ability to drive 1080p HD displays. And, of course, it’s cheap: being able to buy a Pi for $25 means that adding computing to an installation is suddenly brought within the budgets of even garret-dwellers. At school level, we’re trying to make it clear that computing is creative – when it comes down to it, it’s all about making things, whether they be programs or robots. Without design-focused digital creatives we’d have no games industry, no CGI, no graphical user interfaces and a very boring computing environment. If I could, I’d rebrand the Computing GCSE as a GCSE in building robots, installations and wearables, and writing games. Takeup would increase tenfold overnight.

Rachel (who was presenting at that Arts Council meeting on Tuesday) has been with us for a couple of months now, but we’d been unable to announce her arrival until she’d finished work on a separate project. That’s all done now, and we thought you’d like to learn a bit more about her and why she’s with us: over to you, Rach! (We are introducing Rachel with a self-portrait-with-pie from one of her recent photography projects. Serendipitous, no?)

Rachel: Hey everyone!

I’m Rachel Rayns. I’m an artist and maker based in Norfolk, UK.

I am not a traditional artist – I can’t draw or paint (much to my annoyance). Within my work I like to investigate how we use and react to technology; I mostly make films and machines!

At university I developed a specialisation in really technically complex films – I would use a 16mm camera and shoot one alternate frames and then CAREFULLY rewind the film and shoot on the frames I hadn’t done first time round. I had my artworks and films shown at the Whitechapel Gallery, the London Short Film Festival, Glastonbury Music Festival and many other galleries and events.

16mm Films, Rachel Rayns

While I was at university, I collected film cameras and made online tutorials for developing your own colour celluloid film (one of which compared developing film to making a pie – which is where the picture at the top comes from!)

After I graduated I founded Soup Lab, a not-for-profit art organisation which focused on how new and old technologies could work together.

Soup Lab ran a space in Norwich from Dec 2011 to March 2013 with a full darkroom, editing suite, motion picture film lab, gallery and offices. I directed the space and curated the programme.

The ceiling-mounted stop-animation camera rig for Rachel’s film 2D Dreams, which was chosen to open the Straight 8 Festival and proves that duct tape is the force that holds the universe together.

Making-of shots from 2D Dreams

I had heard of Arduino, I had even owned one, but I never really did anything with it. Then I heard about the Raspberry Pi and like lots of you, pre-ordered one. It sat on the shelf for a while while I thought about what to do with it, and eventually I decided to make a super-duper hydroponic gardening system, that panics and tweets when she needs water and hosts her own site, showing off photos of her flowers when they bloom. Zoe is a robot in a romantic relationship with her garden: when she and the garden are happy (when the garden is growing healthily and the plants are watered) she posts pictures of their connubial bliss, but when the soil is drying out she takes to social media to ask questions about how to improve her relationship with the plants. Now I have built most of the mechanics of the machine – but I will be asking for your help later on to make it go!

Zoe Star’s innards. Note Pi.

So, now I’m working on more Zoe Star machines with different functions: humorous devices from alternate realities!

I am all about getting people to start doing things. I love running workshops which involve using materials people haven’t tried before. In the past I’ve run workshops at Tate Modern and Brighton Photo Fringe. I have also give talks and sit on panels discussing makers, artists and technology – last weekend I was at the Victoria and Albert Museum talking about Pi, art and creative tech, and talking at the Elephant and Castle’s first Maker Faire with Tim Hunkin – eep!

Rachel’s most recent interactive workshop/exhibition at Tate Modern, where attendees hacked celluloid film.

So, what’s an artist-in-residence, you’re asking? An artist-in-residence is usually invited into an organisation to create art which responds to the work the organisation does, the physical space they’re working in, or even a particular project.

I will be working on the Zoe Star series and exhibiting Raspberry Pi projects in a number of places (including some room the guys have freed up especially for display at Pi Towers), but I’ll also be creating tutorials for this site, and setting you some challenges for you guys! I’ll be working on documentation aimed at artists in helping them getting started with technology in their practice, seeking out artists already using the Raspberry Pi in their work and making sure you guys know about it; and I’ll be representing the Raspberry Pi Foundation at art events and helping the rest of the team run workshops whenever needed!

We sent Rachel to represent us and talk about the Raspberry Pi at the Athens Video Art Festival 2013 earlier this year – she mailed me this to prove she was really there…

I’m currently working on a bunch of projects, including preparing for an awesome new Minecraft project with the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology and PrintCraft - I’ll have more news on that soon. I’m also running a three-session workshop programme to make your own Zoe Star machine with my help at the Victoria and Albert Museum in late November and early December – so keep an eye out for that! And I will be working lots on more Zoe Star projects with some lovely folk at Norwich Arts CentreWriters’ Centre Norwich and Cambridge MakeSpace.

This is Rachel’s bike, with its handmade, laser-cut basket. You can see why we thought she’d be right at home with the Foundation.

When people ask me what I’d like to do when I grow up, I say I would love a little studio – somewhere to be making all day, where I could also run workshops and have chats with interesting people. So, actually, I am already exactly where I want to be! I had never thought of becoming an engineer before spending time around Raspberry Pi and hackerspaces – when I was at school my appetite for hacking and making was seen by teachers as a suggestion that I should be studying art. Engineering was never on the table – and I don’t want to drop the gender bomb, but I do wonder if it’d have been the same if I’d been a boy with the same skills. I wish I’d had the opportunity when I was choosing my first degree, and if I return to university I’d love to study on the Innovation Design Engineering course at the Royal College of Art.

I am super happy to be here. If you have any questions let me know and I’ll try and answer them!

Liz: thanks Rach! If you live in or near London and you’d like to meet Rachel, learn more about Zoe Star and talk to her about what she’s doing with us, she’ll be at the Internet of Things Meetup in EC2 on July 16 (that’s next Tuesday). She’ll also be answering your questions in the comments here: so get commenting!

Voyage: an interactive art installation

via Raspberry Pi

If you’re at BETT this week, come over to Stand B240 to meet one of the Robs, Clive and a bunch of impaled Jelly Babies.

So here’s a little change of pace after yesterday’s excitement. We’ve noticed a lot of artists working Raspberry Pis into their installations; we’re still very proud that the new Tanks space at Tate Modern had a couple of Pis driving one of their very first exhibits. It makes good sense; the Raspberry Pi’s a lot cheaper and smaller, and a lot less power hungry than the laptops or PC towers that people used to use for this sort of task.

Still in London, we discovered last week that this flotilla of paper boats, which doubles as an array of LEDs and can be controlled by the mobile phones of passers-by, was being exhibited at Canary Wharf. There’s a Raspberry Pi acting as a DHCP and web server as part of the control mechanism, and we find ourselves surprisingly touched at finding a Pi in something so beautiful.

Voyage is an installation from Aether Hemera; you can read more about the setup at their website. I’m not sure how long it’s there for (or even if it’s still in place; we were a little late finding out about this); have any of you London readers had a chance to see it?

There are more pictures of Voyage at Design Boom; they’re well worth a look.