[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.

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[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 šŸ˜‰

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!
[vimeo] http://vimeo.com/6912730[/vimeo]

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.

SOBEaR v02 :: the responsible robot bartender


Finally, my finalized prototype of SOBEaR, the responsible robot bartender.

SOBEaR is a robot friend for anyone who does not know their own limits, or has problems controlling themselves.

I’ve added a glass coaster with a glowing status light to tell you that he is on, as well as a sewn-on patch to show you where the ‘go’ button is.Ā  When you press the “breathe + pour” button on his right foot, the status light goes solid, and the user breathes into SOBEaR’s face.Ā  You can see the alcohol sensor above the bowtie, under his chin.Ā  Your current blood alcohol content (BAC) is then shown a scale from 1 – 6 with green, yellow, and red LEDs in SOBEaR’s chest.Ā  Depending on how drunk you are (or aren’t) SOBEaR will pour you a drink appropriate for your current state.Ā  In the video below, SOBEaR is pouring cranberry vodkas for my user tester.Ā  Two servos hold the alcohol and the mixer, and with the SoftwareServo library for arduino, programming this aspect was simple.

For many obvious reasons, I used a MapDuino which is an ATmega168 chip soldered into a custom PCB circuit (started with perfboard from radiocrack) for the brains of this robot.Ā  The alcohol sensor was super easy to implement, got it from sparkfun via my computation studio teacher.

This robot takes the shape of an adorable plush teddy bear, because I felt it gave it a sense of trustworthiness, as if a teddy bear could ever do you wrong. Trust SOBEaR, he knows what is good for you. It was a tough decision between naming this guy “SOBEaR” or “Teddy Drunkspin” [credit goes to matt for that one!]. Other suggestions?

There are a lot more pictures in my first prototype’s post HERE.

thanks to JosƩ + Chris for drinking and filming!

SOBEaR v01

I have finished my first prototype of SOBEaR, the robot bartender. SOBEaR is a robot friend for anyone who does not know their own limits, or has problems controlling themselves.

SOBEaR has an alcohol sensor mounted under his chin, so that the user presses a button inside his right foot, breathes into SOBEaR’s face, and then watches their alcohol consumption level displayed by the color LED column in SOBEaRs chest.

Following their sobriety test, SOBEaR then immediately pours a drink, a ratio of alcohol and mixer (OJ, cranberry, tonic, cola, etc), appropriate for the user at this time.

As you can see in the video, I still need to play with the angles for each pour. Can’t have the bear pouring the bottle straight down into your glass. Wouldn’t be very classy to just spill liquor or mixer all over the place. So I’ll be fixing that before presenting this project, as well as adding a coaster for the user to place their glass under. It will have an LED indicator light as well…

Robot Bunny // Desecrated and Celebrated

On Friday, we were told to bring in any plush toy that had interesting innards that we would want to understand. Naturally, I picked out a stuffed bunny that has a switch on his foot which triggers a song to play, and two motors to start up- one in the body, one for the ears. Here’s a vid of mr. Rabbit before dissection time. I accidentally pulled one wire out at the end,but I found it’s connection and had the “bunny” in a fully functional state. Seeing just the motors, speaker, button, and battery working completely disembodied made me feel like some great robot surgeon. Poor bunny.

The most interesting findings in this specimen were

– the PNP/NPN circuit that reversed polarities every second of faster in order to make the ears go up and down
– the gear box that was inside the bunnies’ head was quite intricate, and contained at least seven differently sized cog wheels
– the fact that the PCB was made up of completely through-hole components. This definitely surprised me, as I thought surface-mount is much cheaper. Yury told us that factories are set up to do one or the other, and changing is more expensive than it would be worth.

I will definitely be salvaging both motors, as well as the switch (appears to be a small tactile one similar to what radioshack sells, only in a plastic encasement), and the 8ohm speaker that seems to be quite loud and clear for it’s size. Oh, and the battery holder is definitely something I can use- screws shut and holds 3 AAA batteries. Overall, very much worth the $12 (kmart had a sale on Easter themed plush!)

Spatialized Umbrella v01

This is my first prototype of the Spatialized Umbrella.

The Spatialized Umbrella project offers an entirely new dimension to walking in the rain. Using light and sound spatialization this umbrella creates an immersive, mobile, and highly personal multiā€sensory environment.Ā  Range sensing technology helps the Spatialized Umbrella react to your movement through a space.

5 speakers and LEDs are mounted inside of the umbrella, around the users’ head, allowing for sound and light spatialization.Ā  The ‘raindrop’ samples play in a loop, each speaker playing their own unique raindrop. The LEDs light up the speaker playing at that moment. The tempo of the loop is controlled by a long-range Sharp Infrared range finder.Ā  The closer an object is to you, the faster the loop plays. If an object is close enough and a threshold is reached, a lightning sequence is triggered. Best part: COMPLETELY SAFE FOR USE IN THE RAIN.

This video is actually an early version of the code, and I apologize for not using a microphone INSIDE the umbrella (it’s hard to hear the ‘raindrop’ sounds). New video soon.

The most time consuming part of the project was in soldering the PCB i used (i wanted it to be small to fit at the top, so the entire arduino did not make sense). I designed my own “mapduino” circuit and used an IC socket for the ATMega168 chip to sit in on the PCB. This way i can just pop the chip out and replace it with another I have reprogrammed on an Arduino. Rigging the umbrella also took a little while.

***ALL SOUND IS MADE USING ONLY AN ARDUINO AND 8OHM SPEAKERS:: lookup tables store values for waveshaping, which is output directly from Digital Pins from the ATmega chip. See the current version of the code, which can be found HERE.

still to do: linearize the IR data so that there is a more even rate of change in the tempo. When I began, I also had the thought to use an accelerometer, to measure the direction of movement. BUT, I have been successful tonight in reading data from a digital compass sensor, which can give me degrees of rotation — like say if the user spins the umbrella, i could have the sound/light spin around the users head in that direction, at that speed. This is much more interesting data than an accelerometer, in my opinion.

>> UPDATE :: Featured on HackaDay.com and ArduinoShow.com and CoolCircuit.com !!

Luminosphere ā€¢ v0.5

Finally finished!!!

Here it is in all it’s glory, luminosphere. You can check out my Arduino code HERE

I also had to make a product sheet, the PDF file can be downloaded HERE.Ā  There is also an image of it, in case you don’t want to download (always a hassle, i know).

I am going to sell this item on Etsy.com, i’ll post up here when i post it on there. probably will sell for $20, and my teacher, Yury, has guaranteed anyone who sells something they make for class for more than the cost of parts, an AUTOMATIC ‘A’.

so buy my stuff. thx. bye. UPDATE: http://jmsaavedra.etsy.com (!!!)


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User Testing ā€¢ Luminosphere v0.4

Welcome to my User Test for NiteLite LuminosphereĀ®!

I invite you to examine the concept and look of a new product to be released worldwide in March 2009.

NiteLiteĀ® is a product to be used in any darkened room. Simply turn NiteLiteĀ® on, and enjoy the vibrant colors radiating from the base of the product and then watch in awe at the projection of colors on your ceiling or wall!

Watch a video of NiteLiteĀ® in action!


Learn about additive color synthesis, as Red, Blue and Green light mix to make White, and every color in between! **assuming projection surface is white to begin with

Here’s a diagram of how it works!

Now for a few questions:

1. What are your initial reactions to NiteLiteĀ®? Are you interested in using this product?

2. Do you want to have any control, or do you desire any physical interaction with the product (ie, pressing buttons to alter the light)?

3. What do you think could/should change about the NiteLiteĀ®’s physical design? Size? Shape?

4. What room of your domicile would you put NiteLiteĀ® in?

5. What sorts of activities do you think you would partake in, while in a room with NiteLiteĀ® turned on?

6. Is there any functionality you would want NiteLiteĀ® to have? Features?

7. Any other comments?

8. Would you consider purchasing this product, and how much would you pay?

LED time piece ā€¢ v03

third iteration of the timepiece project for computation. we were allowed to use PWM (pulse width modulation) with the LEDs, so now they can FADE, not just on/off. i created a “nite light”, that projects the colors vertically onto your ceiling. it’s a nice effect, i feel alright about it. the green is brighter than red or blue (this is just a fact about color LEDs, green and yellow are brightest), so a perfect WHITE is never reached.

i also added buttons as you can see here – the toggle, simply breaks the ground to all the LEDs, essentially turning the device off (although in reality, the arduino is still running the sequence).Ā  holding either the red or black push buttons down triggers a different sequence of light color.