New Blog URL!

I have taken an internet vacation as you may have noticed…

I’ve decided to start a new weblog — you can find it at

I’ll try to copy over all of these old posts into the new blog, but that might take a while as my time is not so abundant.

This will most likely be my final post on this blog. Thanksssss!

motorNet – proof of concept

quick video of a potentiometer controlling a servo motor over the interwebs.

arduino -> processing -> PHP [serverside] -> .txt file [serverside] and all the way back on the other computer.

i’ll put up code when it’s all ready to go. as it is, this is ready to go both ways, but for clarity i just filmed it going one way.

these two computers could be thousands of miles apart, just need to be online.

5-volt USB Breakout board

I actually made this back in February (you can see the date etched next to my initials on the board), and never got around to posting about it.   It’s a super simple breakout footprint for a USB mini type-B port.  I wanted to make a really simple way to power my breadboard, and since my computer is usually on my work table, this seemed like a great idea.  I made about 60 of these tiny boards which measure about 2cm x 3cm and hope to sell them as a really cheap, tiny kit one day.

Other than the board itself, the only components necessary are a USB mini type-B port, a 22uF SMT capacitor, and two header pins, which can plug directly into the power rails of your breadboard.  My friend Jen asked me to help her put together a glowing LED circuit inside some ceramic pottery, and part of the concept was that the organic piece would need to plugged into to your computer to ‘live’.  Here are some images of the Arduino Pro Mini powered by my breakout board.

USB 5v Breakout board

USB 5v Breakout board

USB 5v Breakout board

USB 5v Breakout board

USB 5v Breakout board

augmented facemask

This was a project I made in June 2009 in Beijing, China. The facemask had green, yellow, and red LEDs that would indicate safe, medium, and dangerous levels of proximity. The project was inspired by the crowded streets of Beijing, and how physical walking down the street could be. The lights would color your face depending on how close something or someone might be to you, emphasizing personal space and public interaction.






EKG-controlled Game of Life Hoodie

I have finally completed my latest : the ” EKG-controlled Game of Life Hoodie “. That’s a wordy title if there ever was one.

First Wear!

The concept here is a wearable version of Conway’s Game of Life, that is controlled by the current state of your life.  Essentially, a wearable extension of your heart, externalized in the form of Conway’s Life. A custom circuit includes an infrared EKG monitor that resets the Game each time a heartbeat is detected. Heartbeat data is analyzed by a hackduino which resets an ATMega48 chip, part of Adafruit’s kit controlling Life, which is embedded in the chest of a hoodie.  Conductive thread is used to connect the 16 LED matrix to the circuit board which is kept in a pocket towards the bottom of the hoodie.

If you are checking this out and are unfamiliar with John Conway’s Game of Life, please read about it, as it is a seminal piece of work, in my opinion one of the most important intersections of art and science.  For the LED matrix playing Life, I used Adafruit’s kit, which is brilliantly designed – able to be daisy chained for larger boards. Unfortunately (or, perhaps, fortunately) I only had one kit to work with, which mean a 4×4, 16 LED matrix. I decided to use red LEDs, as they represent life, blood, and the heart much more to me than green. Also makes this an even better Valentine’s Day gift 😉  I decided that since I was embedding this into a hoodie, I would not need her PCB, which is bulky.  I designed my own breakout for her chip, which you can see in the circuit towards the end of the post.

I used conductive thread to connect each LED from the chest of the hoodie to the pocket holding the circuit and battery, which is lined with an anti-static bag, inside the wearer’s left hip area. The LED embedding technique was picked up from Becky Stern, and worked out quite well. It was, however, a challenging amount of sewing for a novice such as myself, however I accepted the challenge.  I would say it came out functionally ‘great’ and aesthetically ‘ok’.

Check out the flickr set that documents the entire build process.

For detecting heartbeats, I recreated a circuit originally saw on Make, and then through further research found Meng Li‘s project, and finally this schematic – many thanks to Justin Downs for posting his work. The technology here is very simple – an infrared LED (emitter) and detector pair can “see” through your finger: each time blood is pulsed through (= a heartbeat) there is a spike in the amount of light detected.  A LOT of fidgeting and troubleshooting went down in building this circuit, and the result in the video only looks so nice because of a lot of smoothing and averaging done in the code.

Here’s a breakdown of the final circuit I designed to run the hoodie:

It most definitely overkill to be using 2 28-pin ATMega chips for a job that could most definitely be done by one. In Adafruit’s glorious open-sourcery, all code is even posted for their Game! Unfortunately, I do not yet own an AVR programmer and their chip is not bootloaded or supported by the Arduino IDE (the code is all in C). Soon enough I will get my hands on a programmer and if a second version of this arises, I will most certainly use just one chip.

This project would not have happened without Ira Goldberg and Becky Stern.

[pluto-festival] :: festival images

I have started to (FINALLY) upload images from the pluto festival where I exhibited my spatialized umbrella project, in Opwijk, Belgium October 1 -4, 2009.

[flickr-gallery mode="photoset" photoset="72157623309556168"]

[thesis prototyping] :: processing to PHP, attempt one

ok nerdzors, look out. Ira told me about a project that she made that took an analog input from processing and posted it to php (and then possibly a database, not sure). i wanted to try it out for myself, so i did some searching, and of course the processing guru Daniel Shiffman had a nice tutorial on at least getting to a php script.

the php script writes to a text file that you are calling from processing. The php script i am using in this first draft is the same as Shiffmans here. once you have that up and running with all the correct permissions set on the file (read+write), you can fire up processing.

I modified his example file so that the sketch loops and constantly checks the script (+ text file) online, and updates the sketch accordingly. I inadvertantly created a collaborative drawing tool. Potentially, an infinite number of computers/machines could connect to this file that are running this processing sketch, so jessica, nick and i had a collaborative drawing session at 2 in the am.

Because you are just calling to a script that’s online, you can actually view the script at any time in a browser, and watch the coordinates get written as you create and erase them.  it would be here:

Here is my modified Processing sketch.

Here are some images of our late night drawing session — in the background you can see firefox showing all the coordinates that make up the drawing:

this started out as “OOPS”.. then became “BOOBS”… and then became this. Actually I think Jess did the whole thing ourself. But Nick and I watched.

next up, I will hook up the Arduino to Processing and turn LEDs on and off from around the world.

[pluto-festival] :: new friends

I returned from Belgium about 12 hours ago, but I still haven’t gotten a chance to sleep for more than 4 hours since about 3 days ago. It has been an amazing adventure, and definitely an experience that I want to repeat, as soon as possible, again and again. I was invited to exhibit at the Pluto Festival in Opwijk, Belgium about 2 months ago, by Pieter Coussement who saw my spatialized Umbrella project on hack a day. I was surprised because it is not a conceptually heavy project (1 of 3 studio projects in computation studio of my first year at Parsons MFA Design and Technology program in spring 09), but did have some sort of aesthetic appeal. In the end though, my project was, in my mind, legitimately validated through feedback I got from attendees of the festival. It was interesting to watch a project justify itself, and then inspire ideas in strangers, as well as myself. More on this later…

What I want to talk about here are the amazing new friends I was luckily enough to make over the last 5 days. Opwijk, Belgium is a town of about 12,000 residents. There is no hotel in Opwijk, Belgium. If you wanted to stay there overnight–unless you met any of the incredibly hospitable and amicable locals as I did– you could not. And yet, I made friends from all over the world. Ok, well, Europe mostly. Four Tet played on Friday night, as did DJ Kentaro from japan, i have pictures and video of a lot. I also met some amazing people who live and work in this deceivingly-small-in-size-but-surprisingly-large-in-heart town. But first, some work.

Joao Martinho
Is a Portuguese multi-media’r who has a background in informatics and programming. It was really awesome to meet him because he has recently been using openFrameworks, and is very familiar with zach lieberman (yeah teach!) and zach gage (boo). He has even used ofxiPhone to make some early beta apps — i have a vid of him explaining, I will find it and post soon. Joao’s piece at Pluto is a completely original particle system, with openCV as the input. See the vid, it’s very tastefully done, and uses OSC to talk to supercollider for sound. This project got posted on the Processing site and then blew up this year. He’s been exhibiting it all over the world since then. I can see why it is popular, I saw some people interacting with it, in very inappropriate ways ( drunk kids pretending to hump each other, street fighter moves, fighthing with umbrellas, etc ). I’ll put some video up 😉

Good God, Joao already edited a movie together! Very nice documentation.
[note: much of the sound in this video is ambient sound from other installations in the space at Pluto, although I would say often it was quite fitting]


and here is Joao’s teaser video of the entire experience — classy!

Definitely keeping in touch, Joao said he has a new project to be finished early 2010, I’m stoked to see it, and hopefully we meet again ( i know we will )

This is a couple (Marcus and Vera) originally from Germany, and currently living in the UK, who also make really amazing screen based art. Their piece at Pluto was called Interim Camp. Beautiful piece, mostly code-based, in a language I had not previously heard of, Scala (it’s java based OOP). Anyway check out their work and the vid of the projection up: (i’ll put more pictures up as I go through them)


I’m really stoked to have met Marcus and Vera, because not only are they extremely young and already very well established, but they are rad people, and we will keep in touch. We spent most of Saturday walking around Brussels, and it was a great time, I will post that documentation (food and drink, the best kind of documentation) after I go through those pictures.

Kristina Ianatchkova
Kristina recently finished school and has been exhibiting one of her final pieces from her grad program in a few different cities this summer. I overheard more than one attendee whisper “this is my favorite one”. She has built and devised a system where the only physical interaction the participant is allowed, is by swinging on a very meticulously hung rope swing. A “window” separates your swing from an identical one placed exactly opposite from you. “Window” is in quotations because this is a very specialized piece of glass. This was a unique piece because only one person could experience it at a time, and the experience lasted at least 4 minutes. Highly personal, and I think that’s why so many people were affected by it. I will say no more–

[[i can’t find a vid of this already online, but several were taken at Pluto, I’ll put it up soon]]

Kristina was another person who spent a lot of time in Opwijk during the festival– hopefully she makes it out to NYC soon, as there is much generosity and good times that still need to be had. Otherwise, I will regrettably have to return to the EU, and I don’t want to have to do that. oh wait

Guido Maciocci
Guido, I have no words. Extremely chill Italian gentleman, with a background in architecture, I get the feeling that Guido likes to build things. He had a new, custom built version of his project, Augmented Ecologies. It’s a small ecosystem that you interact with to control video and sound. Basically a great excuse to hurt plants, because you are so mad at them for being green and smelling nice. Just kidding, it’s a gentle interaction. 2 Arduinos going to maxMSP, with a nice jitter patch projection. Here it is at Maker Faire in the UK.

Like the other projects, I’ll post video from Pluto as soon as it is together. For now, he is a previous version:

Guido must travel to NYC as well, or else I will go to his native Rome, and i hate pizza.

Pieter Coussement
I owe this entire experience to Pieter. He is one of two curators at Pluto (we’ll discuss Tim [and Zut] later). He found me online, somehow found an ounce or two of faith in the project (and me); and for that, I thank you so much. He is a PhD student at IPEM (institute for psychoacoustica and electronic music) at the University of Ghent. He’s rad, and we have so much in common it’s weird. To name a few: I used IPEM matlab software 4 years ago when I worked at the Center for Mind and Brain and UC Davis. Pieter has a monome40h kit that he built. Pieter’s projects often involve biometrics, and his installation at Pluto was controlled by real-time EKG data. He saw the band Primus when he was 16. He likes to touch little boys. Oh – Not me on the last one, that’s just him. Anyway, back to relevance, his project is titled “Heart as an Ocean” and it seems incredible to me he was able to handle both curating and exhibiting in the same festival (so much work, I don’t think I would ever sign up for him or tim’s job). But together, they did an amazing job, everyone was very impressed with the collection of work, and from what I hear, the sponsors were also very happy. Pluto 2010!

This was an earlier version, obviously Pluto pics and vid will be up soon.

So thankful that Pieter and Tim decided to spend the money to fly me to Belgium for last week, it was an amazing experience, I have so much more to write about. I will make a post about the food/culture (I got to visit Brussels, Ghent, and obviously the metropolis that is Opwijk), and I will make one about Nijdrop, the extremely unique grassroots youth venue that Pluto Festival was held at. I spent most of my time living and working with this community of people, and it was really a cool experience.

I have a great story about a piece of my art getting stolen from the show (confrontation!!) as well as fist fights, and music. Ok that’s more for me to remember what to write about next, hopefully soon. For now, I am very behind school (missed a full week for this). If you are in Belgium and reading this, I thank you truly, for such a great time. pictures and videos soon, many people documented in all sorts of ways, we are pooling it together.