9 amazing projects where Arduino & Art meet!

Just a few of many, many, many amazing projects that are on the web where Tech meet the Art… this time focused on Arduino (or simple electronics) projects… Enjoy!


#1 – Four letters word project

Artist: Rob Seward


The installation consists of four units, each capable of displaying all 26 letters of the alphabet with an arrangement of fluorescent lights. The piece displays an algorithmically generated word sequence derived from a word association database developed by the University of South Florida between 1973 and 1998. The algorithms take into account word meaning, rhyme, letter sequencing, and association.


There’s a mac mini running Processing that sends alignment data to 4 arduino boards (one for each letter) that are chained together. The positions of the lights are stored in an XML file. There is an app that allows Rob to tweak the positioning in case anything gets out of alignment (see first image below). There’s another app just takes what you write on the keyboard and sends it straight to the machine – that’s what was used in the A-Z section of the video. The third app reads lists and sends words to the sculpture. Rob describes it as a bit more complicated than he thought it would be because there are certain transitions the sculpture cannot do without intermediary positioning of the lights. For example, if S goes to D, the top and bottom lights will collide, causing the machine to jam. The processing app makes sure that none of these problem transitions occur without inserting an intermediary arrangement of the lights that allows them to move safely.

The installation in total includes 4 arduinos, 20 servos, 8 Step motors, 24 3.9 inch CCL (cold cathode) lights and their inverters. Each arduino has 2 steppers, 5 servos, and 6 lights to control. There are 2 custom shields on each arduino – one for the lights and one for the motors. I wrote a library to operate the servos and stepper simultaneously which you can download here (github).

source: http://www.creativeapplications.net/processing/four-letter-words-arduino-processing/


#2 – Autonomous Drawing Robot

Artist: Matthias Dörfelt


Created by Matthias Dörfelt, Mechanical Parts is a series of graphic connectors created by Robo Faber, an autonomous drawing robot determined to reproduce. The robot continuously creates drawings generated using a preset system Matthias developed for Weird Faces and the I Follow flip books. The system works around the idea of thinking how the drawings are created by hand and the same logic designed into the algorithm.

Each connector, or “mechanical part” is entirely random and unique, based on the presets Matthias programmed. In this way the robot can draft an infinite amount of connectors while looking like it is sketching and thinking about a mechanism to reproduce.

There is no logic to which connectors go together and the intention was to leave it open to the audience to find the connections that make sense to them. Matthias thinks a perfect fit could be generated at some point, in theory.

Robo Faber is a custom built differential drive robot consisting of two dc motors with encoders at each of the motor shafts. Custom Arduino driver software has been written to approximate the robots position based on the encoders and to allow the robot to follow arbitrary bezier curves. Like in Weird Faces and the I Follow, the drawings are generated using PaperJS.

Source: http://www.creativeapplications.net/arduino-2/autonomous-drawing-robot-by-matthias-dorfelt-determined-to-reproduce/


#3 – Petting Zoo – Artifical creatures designed to learn and explore

Artist: Miniaforms




Created by London based experimental architecture and design studio Minimaforms, this project is speculative life-like robotic environment that raises questions of how future environments could actively enable new forms of communication with the everyday. The artificial intelligent creatures have been designed with the capacity to learn and explore behaviours through interaction with participants.

The tracking and the machine awareness of participant(s) is enabled through Kinect and data scanning with Processing. These allow identification of visitor presence within the physical space. Real time camera streams are processed and coupled with blob tracking and optical flow analysis to locate positions and gestural activity of participants. In addition to the Processing sketch for the installation, the team have also been developing more complex future scenario situations where through simulation possible behaviour patterns could be analysed and further refined.

source: http://www.creativeapplications.net/processing/petting-zoo-by-minimaforms-intelligent-artificial-creatures-designed-to-learn-and-explore/


#4 – reaDIYmate – Wifi objects that interact with you!

Artist: Readiymate (from Kicksatarter)


reaDIYmates are fun Wifi objects that move and play sounds depending on what’s happening in your digital life.
Assemble them easily in 10 minutes, then decide what you want them to do through a simple web interface. Link them to your digital life (Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, RSS feeds, SoundCloud, and more to come) or control them remotely in real time from your iPhone.


Choose from a variety of existing designs, use our templates or create your own object. You don’t need any creative or technical skills to build and use your reaDIYmate, but if you want to go further, we made it super easy for you to change designs, write applications, or add inputs and outputs.

Source: Readymate.com


#5 – “TANTRA” – Nexus between music and a sound responsive mechanical object

Creative director/ Software engineer: Daito Manabe
Hardware engineer: Motoi Ishibashi
Video director: Muryo Homma
Installation designer: Youichi Sakamoto



‘Tantra’ is the new single from Timo Maas, taken from his latest artist album, ‘Lifer. The video for the single, created by Daito Manabe, Motoi Ishibashi, Muryo Homma and Youichi Sakamoto (rhizomatiks) includes a machine that uses Arduino controlled ball dispensers, motorised rotating steel plates and LED lights to create a nexus between electronic music and a sound responsive mechanical object.

‘Tantra’ track was first deconstructed into MIDI parts, the data that specified notation, pitch and velocity. Each control signals are used as parameters – volume, vibrato, audio panning, cues – to run through the machine to control its movement.

Source:  http://www.creativeapplications.net/openframeworks/timo-maas-tantra-nexus-between-music-and-a-sound-responsive-mechanical-object/


#6 – inFORM – Dynamic Shape Display

Artist: Tangible Media Group – MIT

Project by Daniel Leithinger, Sean Follmer and Hiroshi Ishii at the Tangible Media Group / MIT Media Lab.
Academic Support: Alex Olwal
Software Engineering Support: Akimitsu Hogge, Tony Tang, Philip Schoessler
Hardware Engineering Support: Ryan Wistort, Guangtao Zhang, Cheteeri Smith, Alyx Daly, Pat Capulong, Jason Moran
Video Support: Basheer Tome


Created at the Tangible Media Group / MIT Media Lab, inFORM is a Dynamic Shape Display that can render 3D content physically, so users can interact with digital information in a tangible way. After the leaked video the project went viral on YouTube last week, the team have now put out the full documentation of the project including some making of information + images and videos for CAN.

The first version of inFORM project was called Relief, and subsequently Recompose. Their initial attempt at prototyping the interface was called Contour. inFORM is a project can also interact with the physical world around it, for example moving objects on the table’s surface. Remote participants in a video conference can be displayed physically, allowing for a strong sense of presence and the ability to interact physically at a distance. inFORM is a step toward their vision of Radical Atoms. Past research on shape displays has primarily focused on rendering content and user interface elements through shape output, with less emphasis on dynamically changing UIs. They propose utilising shape displays in three different ways to mediate interaction: to facilitate by providing dynamic physical affordances through shape change, to restrict by guiding users with dynamic physical constraints, and to manipulate by actuating physical objects.

The project uses Kinect for input and a custom 30×30 actuator table, displays and projectors for output. 150 custom Arduino PCB’s are controlled by custom software written in openFrameworks. The process includes capturing Kinect data, running colour tracking and generating normalise image and combining into 3d tracking, also running touch tracking and generating a combined depth map which is converted into the position of pistons. For more information, see the links below.

Source: http://tangible.media.mit.edu/project/inform/


#7 PlotClock


Just an amazing project to do with your Arduino (or compatible) board… one image (or a video) is worth more than a thousand words this time. (Video Below).

You can say this is a “full time” job for an arduino… and in the end, a clock work is timeless? ;)


A clock that plots time. Designed with makeability in a fablab/makerspace/hackerspace in mind.

You need:
– Laser cutter or 3D printer
– 1 Arduino
– 3 servos
– 1 dry wipe pen
– M3 nuts, bolts, thread tap

Source: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:248009


#8 – Useless Box

Artist: Frivolous Engineering

Not too much comment on it… but is amazing idea, went viral on 2009 and let´s face it… we all want one of this!!! 😉 (but no arduino on it, sorry!) 😉


Source: http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Most-Useless-Machine/?ALLSTEPS






and my personal favorite…

 #9 – Constellaction – Intricate emergent behaviour using autonomous building blocks

Artist:  Pangenerator


Earlier this year panGenerator was invited by Copernicus Science Center to create an installation for the new media and technology oriented Transformations Festival and given the central idea of this years edition – empowering people via new tools such as 3d printing and new collaboration frameworks, the team decided to implement an idea they developed some time ago. They strived for something that generates intricate emergent behaviours based on very simple and autonomous building blocks.


The main, and only component of Constellaction installation/experience was a small, vacuum formed tetrahedron. Inside there were custom made electronics driven by ATtiny24A microcontroller which already included all of the things the team were looking for – it was working with voltages as low as 1.8V, consumed small amounts of current and had enough i/o pins. For light detection they used three standard photoresistors, each pointed to corresponding face and the same amount of SMD LED’s were used for producing light. On top of that they added a tiny buzzer making some noise along with the blink. As for power supply two CRC2032 batteries were used, and thanks to heavy power consumption optimisations (such as utilising watchdog timer) the tetrahedrons are working even today – a month after the event.

The rules of behaviour are simple – if the tetrahedron detects sudden change of light intensity (caused for example by casting shadow or pointing a flashlight ) it blinks for a short period of time with fixed delay, additionally making a sound. When there are other tetrahedrons nearby they might catch this light and pass it further, giving an effect of a “light wave”. The high-level patterns are built upon this simple rule and are shaped by the participants playing with the installation consisted of 400 blinking tetrahedrons. In the result the Constellaction “shape” evolved and branched during the evening, depending on the collaborative effort of the whole audience, effectively showing what emergence is all about.

Source: http://www.creativeapplications.net/arduino-2/constellaction-intricate-emergent-behaviour-using-autonomous-building-blocks/


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