Saturday 23 February 2013

Interactive Sculpture Workshop 2 - Arduino Uno

I really enjoyed this workshop and I have learnt a lot from it. We were introduced to the Arduino Uno, a very capable and easily programmed mini computer. Nic taught us how to use and upload the software that we had written (copied by hand) onto the chip which operated a light sequence controlling 5 LEDs. A very important element in the construction of this circuit was to make sure that you had used a resistor before the LED in order to avoid burning it out. All elements of the circuit are wired into something called a ‘breadboard’ (the white plastic block with countless connection holes). The name ‘breadboard’ came from the original people who began to design electronics like this, pinning the wires and connections onto a breadboard. The whole idea behind the Arduino was to make a simple and easy to use prototyping platform for artists, designers, inventors and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.
Once programmed and uploaded with the running file the Arduino can then be unplugged and run completely independently from an external power source. Lastly Nic showed us how to make a touch sensitive keyboard (musical) using a midi connector and program similar to GarageBand along with many more resistors and wiring. The keys work from the small amount of electro-magnetic energy that our bodies release, by touching the key we are in a sense completing a circuit and allowing the program to produce a note or sound. Pretty damn cool!

I felt very inspired by this and i want to try and incorporate an element of light-to-sound sensitivity in my own work. I have several sculptures that could have an Arduino and lighting system implanted inside of them to react to sounds as they are broadcast. I am wondering if it would be possible to program an Arduino to respond to a particular range of sounds or notes. Then through a set sound track different Arduino circuits could respond at different points of the track depending on the sound produced. I need to explore these further.

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