Rest of You assignment N˚1.2

We were asked to create a “smooth sensor” and pipe it into processing through arduino.

A sensor is a material input, that can give information (signal) to (in our case) an arduino which maps the sensor’s values into numbers from 0 to 1023 or 0 to 255 depending. This early in the game and already we have mapping, ie an arbitrary set of values imposed on information to make it digestible, ie smooth.

That said I will carry on.

An ldsr sensor is a light sensor that provides the arduino with analog values. For these values to be smooth we need smooth input. I connected an led to PWM pin 9 of the arduino. I am manually controlling its brightness with “smooth” values from a potentiomenter connected to analog pin 5 of the arduino. To isolate the sensor and the led (for ensured smoothness) I shrinkwrapped the two in a black, lightsafe tube. A smooth sensor is one in a feedback loop, controlled by means inherent to the system it is in. To “prove” this, I am sending the ldsr output to the serial monitor. The presence of processing in this system seems superflous given the circumstances.


For and example of a smooth sensor from 1963 see Hans Haacke’s condensation cube:

September 14, 2010 | Comments Off on Rest of You assignment N˚1.2  Tags: , ,

I ain’t got no body, calendar and mood boards


10 weeks (last two weeks of the semester are reserved for finishing, dealing with lose ends and unexpected problems, making the documentation website, and preparing the piece for the show)

week 1(by Feb 9) Have Reliable Xbee communication between website and “body” the last run failed after the first few commands were sent. Determine what kind of interaction design should occur between user and body

week 2(by Feb 16) Design and start amassing parts for “body”, should it be able to walk, should it be modular, a space, I don’t know

week 3(by Feb 23) Make trial run (maybe send it to canada and use it to play with sister, or give it to Ben)

week 4(by March 2)revisions/reiteration

week 5(by March 9) one more exchange/test

week 6(by March 16) time to order new/more parts if necessary, change control interface if necessary

week 7(by March 23)next test

week 8(by March 30)recap, re-assesment

week 9(by April 6)build up the project again

week 10(by April 13)document/source code

(my dates don’t seem to coincide with the academic calendar, I don’t care enough to fix them, earlier is better)

The three projects that I feel are successful that are related to mine are the first three slides.

The first slide is a scene from the movie “surrogates” which while being a product of the holywood machine, does have it’s successes. I particularly liked one part in the movie when the antagonist went clubbing in the body of a 20 year old british pop star looking body and met a woman, who was kindof a typical holywood blonde. They liberally flung themselves (or maybe just one of them did), off the side of a building to no harm. They turned into an alley way, and right before the fateful moment of coitus, they were murdered. The young man turned out to be a wheel chair bound decrepit, and the blonde was a clinically overweight man.

It was nice in that the characters were engaging each other as androids and also as the characters in human society that they were representing. Of course the scene was super successful because it was actually played by a sultry hollywood blonde and a young man that looks like a british pop star. Which is further amusing on account of all the recursion, us dealing with actors in the first place and so on.

The second slide is of Golan Levin’s Opto Isolator and Double Take. These robots are following an algorithm that dictates their actions, but they have incredible personality and character. Even of they were commandeered by any stranger they would still be very much driven by the nature of their bodies. And that is one of the aspects of this project that is driving me most, the desire to experience, no matter how remotely, existence in another body,

Next is Adrianne Wortzel’s Kiru from Camouflage Town. Her work centers around robotics and theater. This makes it particularly interesting in that she works on developing specific characters. People from the internet could control Kiru and engage with visitors in the museum, but only through his voice, and body.

The rest of the images are aesthetic inspiration, not conceptual. Although the lunahods and astronaughts whose bodies are monitored down to the heartbeat and sent out into space on behalf of humanity, are quite poignant. The ones on the bottom with men in bug like masks is also an art project, but I don’t remember it’s name, if you do, please write to yud dot sofy at gmail dot com.

I ain’t got no body, continued

I ain’t got no body, continued

How can this be done with love?

The body implemented would be specific in it’s composition, a character by virtue of it’s body, the way a cat is by default different from a snail. But the structure underneath it would be modular and multi purpose. Hopefully allowing me to continue on a path of development for a long run to come.

What: One or more “bodies” to jack into from the net, a net, etc. Possibly even, (and this has always been a fantasy of mine) a space. What does it mean about our experience of the world if our body is mapped to a space?

When: First Plateau: Develop protocol and plan for documentation etc.

Why: I always wondered what it would be like to be a carp, so flat and smooth, on the bottom of the sea floor. How do we map a carp’s body to that of a human?

Because I feel empty and I want to look at everything in such depth that maybe I will finally prove or disprove the reality of anything that I perceive. At least for the benefit of my own peace of mind, if nothing else.

To exacerbate the abyss of the other, push to the limit any indication that they really exist. Trying to mediate life with a mechanical process. Trying to mechanize deconstruct and decontextualize everything.

Who: Anyone with internet, should it be p2p? All access all the time, peep show 2.0 or something more specific you have to make an appointment for etc?

How: Serially enabled devices can be controlled from the internet, we will see which ones and how after some market research and analysis.

I am proposing to develop an open interface for telepresence, with some kind of modular infrastructure. Perhaps it will take the form of something like the chat roulette but with physically present “bodies”. Its related to teledildonics too, and all the beautiful notions of the passion where you give your body over to the process, except that process is embodied by other people, close ones, strangers.

I accept all assignments!

My own perceived strengths:

Some modicum of craftsmanship, some ability to make things work and bring them to a close if not a polish when push comes to shove, can organize workflow, know my limits


Poor language and communication abilities, laziness, don’t know my limits

I ain’t got no body

Open this page if you have a body around.

Open this page if you want to control a body.

The Body:


How it works:

You control the body by pushing buttons from the control page.

It writes the commands to a text file.

The local page polls the file and writes the commands to the puppet.

The audio and visual is transmitted through skype.


Who doesn’t want telepresence? And if you can have any body, why not have a 360 degree moving racecar body with pimped out led wheels?

Psychic Friends Network

Presentation of Psychic Friends Network, a slide essay

The Automat, an architectural/gastronomical site of barrier fetishism

Wikipedia says that one of the main attractors of rubber fetishism is ” …perhaps that the garment forms a “second skin” that acts as a fetishistic surrogate for the wearer’s own skin. ”

This has many parallels and relations to technoculture and the myriad forms of mediation that it provides.

The Automat is a particularly fascinating materialization of this behavioral pattern, because it claims to serve “BAMN! provides American comfort food that just makes you happy.” The food is not prepared automatically, its made by a chef directly behind the little glass boxes containing the food. But it provides a sterile skin in between the consumer and the restauranteur, and allows us to engage in a dance of technically mediated food obtaining. It exists solely for the facilitation of said ritual.

I was going to observe interactions at the Bamn! Automat on St.Marks place, but to my great disappointment, apparently it has been out of business since March 2009. I have partook in it’s ritual for the two years that it was on St.Marks however, and so will write up this blog post from memory.

People come up to the Automat at all hours of the night drunkenly dropping quarters in its eagerly awaiting, ever ready gapping little change collectors.
They always seem to be happily surprised to receive their food. It’s like a little game, a little dare, drop your change in the hole, push the button, will you get the corn dog?

It has happy blinky lights, a seemingly mechanical interface and the promise of fresh food on the other end. It’s an arcade like interaction between consumer and producer.

There are clear borders, consumers on one side, a wall of glass bricks with doors full of food, and the producer on the other side. We don’t even see them. Our money goes directly to the machine of the institution, the architecture. Everything is divorced and clean cut. It’s safe in a way, no pressure to behave in a sociable manner, we each have our boxes, and in our boxes we are free.

The most shocking moment I had at the Automat, was one night, in between parties, when a giddy group and I stopped there for a snack on the way. As sounds of chatter and lights of the arcade like place blurred and whizzed around my consciousness, I turned away from the warm faces of my friends to get a croquette. I happened to have turned into a nose to glass position with the croquette box, and at that precise moment, a giant (out of scale with it’s environment), unmistakably human, hand popped into the enclosure, placed a croquette there, and promptly removed itself.

There are some nice images from the movie dark city of the hand in the automat. The whole scene that is comes from is worth watching, as it is using the spacial politics of the automat to expose the feelings of urban instability and metaphysical instability of the main character.


It was like a moment of experiencing the sublime, or the uncanny, or realizing you are having a lucid dream. It upset my entire world to see that hand, it implied organic relationships I was totally not ready to accept as reality at that moment.

The Automat creates a beautiful, organized technologically controlled world, that not only provides an environment that harkens to arcades and caissoes, but also rewards you for playing, with home cooking.

The Croquette:

October 26, 2009 | Leave a Comment  Tags: , , , , ,

PComp 4&5

The following is a post detailing the last two PComp weekly assignments, the construction of our fantasy device and the stupid pet trick.

Fantasy Device:

Today I want to view them through the lens of consumer electronics, particularly those from our past.
We grew up with them, they mean something to us, they are close to us, and have been forming our perception of the world, since we were wee tykes. I am interested to see how our consumer electronically mediated perception works when its intersected with the experience of other people (not their experience but the our experience of them).

Bonus! Older electronics are easier to hack as they use larger components and are actually designed to be reverse engineered and/or maintained by humans.

The first sensor I made was the galvanic skin response sensor.

In it’s most simple form it comes down to just two copper terminals and wires going to the arduino.

I used it to push on the buttons that changed the channels on my tv. Controling the TV with my emotions.

I am interested in making my own sensors because it’s magical that we can make computing devices and components out of things that are just lying around. They are that accessible and that close.

here is a video of the test with a pot

the gsrs can be tweaked and tuned with the use of various resistors and capacitors

I also made a lie detector to see if that worked better

The values of resistance depending on human tension come in inconsistently so you have to measure for rate of change when using these kind of sensors, rather than amount of resistance.

THEN: calamity!
I brought the tv to school and plugged it in, it let loose some smoke and called it a life. Maybe my emotions were more than it could bear, and it resided with a whimper and the smell of chemicals.

Depressing, because since this particular model specified of its tuning frequencies with button pushes, it was really possible to tune in and drop out, let your body do the reasoning, and watch it go.

So I decided to hook up to my alarm clock radio, but wanting to try something new I made a heart rate sensor. The idea behind this was to play my heart on the radio and have the time change according to its rhythm.

To make a heart rate sensor, hook up a photocell opposite an LED isolate them so no extraneous light seeps in, stick your finger in, and voila. As blood pulses through your finger, it gets darker and the photocell registers the change. Its better to use the tip of your finger or a thinner finger, so that the pulsing of blood is more clearly detectible.

Then I connected this to various speakers to hear what different effects of heartbeat I could achieve, I even made one out of a piezo and foil. The best speaker turned out to be the one from my wii, which had been previously taken out because of another project.

Hacking into the speaker was easy, I just replaced the cables. I wanted to have my heart go over this and interfere with the tuning of the radio somehow. But hacking into the variable capacitor on a commercial radio was a bit too overwhelming for me. They integrate three capacitors and something else that might be a pot to tune to the different frequencies. So I’m not there yet but its a project to look into.

Bonus Info: The circuit board on this radio is the same as one I found in an alarm clock radio from the 70’s! It’s nice to know not everything has to be the latest model.

Lastly I hooked into the clock. This is pretty straight forward, since by pressing on the “time button” one is able to further change the time by pressing the minute and hour buttons. So by correlating the presses to my heart rate, it looks like the clock advances with the rate of my beating heart.

But as you can see, I am still having some problems for the code so the hour is not changing quite rightly.

The radio alarm clock is my stupid pet trick, I was thinking many people used stuffed animals for their pets. They were their friends that they wished alive when they were little. My friends were the clock the radio, the tv, they told me things and they had mysterious workings inside them that made them like unto living things. So the stupid pet is the clock, it’s a personal object that I have a relationship with now acting like it knows me back.

October 14, 2009 | Leave a Comment  Tags: , , , , ,

PComp Week One

Sensor Walk for ITP PComp Class.

On my sensor walk, the first thing that came to my mind is “what is a sensor?” exactly, because the more I looked around, the more everything seemed like it could be a sensor.

So without getting too much into Cyborg theory here, I would say that a sensor is anything that triggers or generates a signal, that can be sent over a carrier, interpreted by a communicating system, and reacted to with feedback by that or another comminicating system.

In our case I would say that we are most interested in sensors that can trigger or generate an electrical signal that we can interpret with hardware and software, but this:

native new york fern

native new york fern

and this:

gate latch new york

gate latch new york

also contain sensors, carriers and feedback.

The thing that makes sensors interesting for us too, I think, is that they imply an interpretation, and vice versa, a signal, implies a sensor. I heard somewhere once, that we should not create for an audience but create an audience with our designs. For example this:

dont litter please!

dont litter please!

actually says “don’t litter please!” but we read (when on site) “please!” [image] “don’t litter”. If I was a giant or looking at it from a window, it would read differently. Since I don’t litter anyway, I am actually uncertain about what the sign is trying to achieve. Humans don’t make for very reliable sensors. More over, they get terribly offended when they are expected to respond in a predictable way (ie feminists are not too happy about the whole male gaze as implied in traditional painting etc), or when they have to behave in a predetermined way (something which is also a characteristic of a good sensor).

Is a sensor attached to nothing, no longer a sensor?



The inability for the signal to get anywhere is tragic, because we have these sensors too.

I guess that’s why this is such a famous example in cyber culture:



and not so much this:



only one of them is explicitly about sensors, signals and feedback.

this is why (although both are hard to swallow) this:



is so much more compelling than this:



one has feedback, the other is transposition of signal.

Apologies for images culled from internet, some will be replaced by actual images from the walk as soon as I get to a scanner.

September 14, 2009 | Leave a Comment  Tags: , , , ,