H-Bridge & Motors
A few pictures of the work we did that covers the labs pretty much as part of our midterm project. There will be more documentation of the entire midterm project, which may be linked here and live on another page. I will also visit these labs solo and try some ideas I have to make bubbles and waves in water.


I am an artist and a designer: I can separate the two pretty easily. In art, I love a certain play with ambiguity and multiple meanings; in design I don’t. I have worked specifically in information design for a long time, and I have done signage and packaging. In design I am for straight forward and clear, and pretty, but the aesthetics are part and principled on the message and use. I am also in favor of simplicity and a certain kind of understated modesty that invites use in both art and design, so I guess that is where both merge for me.

I think there is a positive affect with simplicity in design that is pleasurable. On the other hand, I do not like design that is an affectation of simplicity, and bolsters pseudo minimalism or cool modern utilitarian aesthetics, when the experience is actually bemusing, as Donald Norman points out with the sleek minimal doors in “The Design on Everyday Things.”

For the assignment: I took a trip to the Midtown Information Center to check out the interactive touch tables. These tables were purported to have interactive maps. I am directionally challenged and I have problems with everyday things, so I like the idea of maps and user interface in any context. Even after living in NY for years, I still don’t know where I am going often. And I used to think that the Farside cartoon where the kid is pushing on the pull door was inspired by me.

What did I observe and experience there:

The center, to me, starts of with the affectation of usability and simplicity, but the affect is not. That may be more subjective, but I think the interior design and the music makes the time a person wants to spend there brief, like a high-end but similarly uninviting boutique with distracting artifice. Most people did not stay long; and few came in at all. I think because it is not obvious what the place is meant to do; it looks like also it could be a really chic store.

The other thing I noticed is that people went straight to the print media almost always. I think out of comfort of usability and the known. Even the youngest people who are used to screens and games did not go to the tables at first. The people who work there seem to be on hand, not just as guides to NY, but as guides on how to use the space.

Some people never use the tables. And they spend a lot of time looking around at the space and print media. I think that the overhead embellished architecture over the tables suggest something strange that never happens. The table design does not afford a sense of mapping, again they look like they could be a gimmick in a cool store, not in the service of the public. There is a feeling of in approachability and inactiveness. Some people look at the table as a novelty but don’t touch them.

After almost twenty minutes a couple comes in and they go to the tables right away. So I think maybe it is cultural; this couple is more used to kiosks etc. They scroll around and play for about eleven minutes. But they don’t get to the last step of printing a personalized map or doing the flyby on the big wall projection.

So then I do it. First the tokens are cool, the graphics interesting, but there are issues. The steps feel confusing the mapping of how to use the map does not make sense at first. The tokens cover the places, and the screens get buggy. I have issues choosing more then one destination, which is not clear, so my token has problems. I feel the searches are limited too; I don’t feel I have enough leverage to control things the way I would say a computer or other kiosks even. There is not much conversation in this interaction, or iteration. A woman who works there helps me; which is embarrassing since I go to an interactive program. She says the tables are like PMS, they are moody, I say kind of buggy, she just looks blankly at me.

Then it was not obvious to me what the big screen does; but I am encouraged to put my token on the podium. So I do. It seems to fly through a google earth map and plots things.

In conclusion, I can’t say that the place was not fun; but I also can’t say it helped my understanding of how to find things in the city any better. Perhaps it is just me, and I can try again with other people another time and maybe I will have a different experience.



Using the Accelerometer to move the ball. This is definitely getting me closer to realizing what I want to do. How did I not know that this lab would be what I needed? Next I will make the X and Y motion do something very cool.


The screen shots are the following:


Y tilt back and forth

X tilt side to side

graphing with the potentiometer

checking out the cornflake shareware

looking at different forms of ASCII

  The idea seems simple enough; and maybe it is. I want to make a theatre, a box, with two prisms that project color mixing LED's and also plays simple sine waves. The color mixing and sound-play would be triggered by conditions of movement. However after working with the accelerometer and trying to work out ways to code in arrays for the color mixing...well, things got weird. So I switched the design to a hanging box/lantern to present in class.  

Most importantly I realized my header pins were too short to get decent readings. In my next post I will address the better header pin on the accelerometer lesson; and I will work in the steps which make more sense toward my goal of light and then sound variation in response to movement. For now, here is what I did before the class presentation.

First I wanted to learn how the common cathode works. (And also I had to complete the electricity lab in order to get a physical grasp on circuits.)

The second step was to try to alter codes so that the color mixing performed the way I liked. If you look at the Processing sketch link below you can see I like kind of minimal and simple interaction between light and physical movement. I wanted to explore this in the context of physical computing. (click or drag mouse to begin) http://www.mfclarke.com/Processing/sketch_oct08_LED/

So there is this fascination with motion, light and sound. Kind of like a mash up between Bill Fontana, Robert Irwin and James Turell, (a few links below on the respective artists). So I bought two accelerometers, and after talking with the residents I chose to use the Dual Axis Accelerometer - ADXL213AE because it was rated at +/-1.2g, which would require less force to see results. Both sensors have digital to analog conversion and this seemed to be a good bet that I would be able to use both in applications in the future.

The following steps were in the realm of: soldering, wiring, reading the specs and datasheets. As well as, trying to get a good map set from my accelerometer. At some point I had not solved or gained a realization of the idea; and once the time ran short and I could not figure out how to get the movement necessary to cause the accelerometer to make a good range in numbers, I abandoned my theatre and made a hanging lamp. I thought I took some video of my theatre box before I dismantled, but I did not, so I will redo that of course as I continue this project.

Bill Fontana is a great sound artist who uses accelerometers:



Robert Irwin is a really fantastic artist; he is well known for his use of light and space (his writing and interviews are very affecting as well):


Some more links on: LED mixing, Calculating Resistors, Accelerometer and Data sheet Downloads:

Arduino Forum > Hardware > Interfacing > Common Cathode RGB Tranny/PWM/Arduino:

RGB LED Tutorial (using an Arduino) (RGBL): http://www.instructables.com/id/S90R03NFWS6JUQQ/

RGB LED Test Circuit - (RGBL): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDajSADjTX4&feature=player_embedded#

Code: http://oomlout.com/RGBL/CODE/_RGBL_AnalogTest.txt

LED series/parallel array wizard: (finding resistor values) http://led.linear1.org/led.wiz

ADXL213AE: http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=843

First lesson learned the resistor can not only dim your LED but also your sound. After putting a lower resistor on the speaker, I try to make a tune with louder sound. I also play with different resistors on the flex sensor to see how that affects the sound. I need to map after switching to a lower resistor; so my readings look like this:
//with 1k of resistance I have 101-30
//with 10k of resistance I had 551-533
//with 1k of resistance I have 87-36
//with 10k of resistance I had 503-517
So after working with a few note variations and threshold variations, I made what I think is a pretty good noise composition;while this is not something I would release or perform, I was happy to make something more creative and satisfying in the Lab.
I linked this video to another page. It is noisy yet beautiful. I usually don't make this kind of sound, but I found fulfilling somehow. The sound and video are not synced; I put filters on the sound which extended the length to about ten percent longer then the video; next time I will go directly into the computer and may even be able to do something in processing with visuals while adding sound filters at the same time ...wouldn't that be cool.
This is not that complete yet ...I want to try to use light and the reflections to make tone variation. First I did the lab focusing on light.
Interactive DREAMING
w/ Dream Enhancing PJ's    
  In the spirit of interaction and fantasy, I decided to make a dream enhancing pajama-suit made out of high tech sensory fibers, with additional lightweight microcontrollers and sensors built in. It has a programmable computer module that rests on a charging (electrically charged) night stand; one can also put it in a pocket in the suit, it has battery mode. The module works in wireless technology to communicate with the suit's microcontrollers. And best of all, you can share your dreams and dream programs on-line.  
  The catalysts for this idea, actually a few things: (first) it is the desire of almost everyone to explore beyond the limits of space and time, (second) there is much recent neuro-scientific research unfolding that may be advanced by this interactive project, (third) I personally am conflicted between sitting at the computer practicing to become a better artist/practitioner, reading all that I need and want to, and the physical activities that I feel are hard to fit into a busy schedule, or that I lack funds to do, like: scuba diving, horse back riding, playing with kitties, cooking, swimming etc. So why not dream these things in your downtime, in your sleep.

What Happens:

1. A person can "dream" in unified (very focused), random, or serial combinations. For simplicity sake the computer menu starts with the ability to declare first: events/actions, people, places, or abstract conceptual (thoughts). From there one can go further in submenus and tailor further or combine things to create the desired dream. Another option, a person can choose 'open start' (what if), this will give the next set of functions over to the program. Each declaration is further enhanced with variables, loops, and random functions that the person defines during the dream via sensory input. There is also an option for the programming savvy, to work at lower levels of designing their dreams.

2. The module receives triggers from a set of sensors that a person is in the correct sleep to onset the dream, then wirelessly the dream is commenced via output sensors to stimulate parts of the sensory/nervous system which have been proven to activate the onset of a certain dream state. Maps and hierarchy of sensory places and their variables are essentially what guide dream induction and generation.

3. The program in the module continues to output sensory triggers, and it receives feedback and data in real-time from the microcontrollers and input sensory fibers. Input and output is performed in fast cyclical loops. There is looping communication between the 'thinking' or aware parts of the body, including the brain if one chooses to wear the cap, and the program. The module is of course able to shut down or tapper off dreams at certain cues or times.

4. The module stores: the person's original menu choices before the dream, the dreams as they evolved via the sensory input/output, and the sensory variables as they are logged in numeric data. The module can be synced with the personal computer via USB or wirelessly. All stored information can be shared on-line, either in an open source area that allows the dreamers to share and exchange programs, or in social networking sites, as well, scientists can collect data and share selected case studies with each other privately. One last cool function, people can illustrate their dreams and combinations of dreams using add-on features additional software that brings together media tools with the sensory data stored.

What Else...

This system uses variable sensors that work like biofeedback; they measure heat, muscle locomotion tension, perspiration and other factors, so it has many analog components in the input transduction. This set of signals is gathered in the suits buitl-in micro controllers and then they are sent wirelessly to the computer.

Similar sensors give back variable sensory signals from the dream computer to the body, a set of stimulations further conduct the continuance of the dream and also end it.

The dream computer has a monitor and interface such as an iphone or itouch, with touch screen and the ability to type in, or select icons... Most dreamers will put their monitors on the charging night stand and use the wireless technology. The monitors do have a twelve-hour battery, and so they can also be implanted in variable pockets of the pajamas depending on the dreamers sleep position and nighttime movements.

Analog In: Tracking Changes with Variables / LAB 3
The first one, tracking variables using a potentiometer & then second with a photo cell; I also tried calibrating to get the numbers to be in a range... hmmm? Also, the potentiometer video has some video of things I shot in my studio as I am thinking about sensing sensors and sensing the environment around me.
Potentiometer & etc    



In this series of posts, I hope a chart or map will emerge of the physical world and my ability to portray a perceptual awareness of it. So in addition to following an advance of technical abilities and project sophistication, I hope to express evolving connections between us, the technologies, and an overall sense of the material and physically dynamic world we live in. Whether a piece explores the mundane, like the sensor in a refrigerator, or the profound, like a seismic audio map of the NYC area, at some distance their ought to be a view of connections which draw some larger understanding of how we sense and things move.

Sensing (2009)


  And maybe it might link up with this map. This is something I was working on (proposal) last spring. The idea was to use sensors and magnets to make sound from the ground and beneath. Originally I was working with another person on the technical end; but they are now quite busy with other things. Hopefully once I get more comfortable with things... I will be able to realize this project, or something like it.

I guess it is obvious I like the idea of mapping things. But they don't have to be literal maps in the end. I would like it if things really grew into something more dynamic and physical, fresh and not so predictive.

Well it was not so bad at all! Although there is an issue. The lights are not blinking as they should. Perhaps it is because I accidentally got the wrong LED ?? I will have to bring it in and see what that's all about. Meanwhile, I enjoy working with my hands and I hope to have something creative to post very soon.
All Images, video and sound / Copyright Melissa Clarke