What am I thinking about?????
Ceramic sculpture and portraiture, in particular, are forms of a visual narration that I use to satisfy my urge for documenting what I see in human nature. Evocative of well-loved toys and obsolete artifacts, I use the implied history of these objects to encourage the viewer to disconnect from the present situation and conjure their own individual narratives from my sculptures.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
During this collaboration Anthony and I designed a two part audio system for a new ceramic sculpture. The two audio systems were comprised of one Arduino microprocessor complete with a protoshield, 16 independently amplified speakers, two PIR motion sensors and initially a new product from Adafruit Industries (www.adafruit.com) called a Wave Shield (fig. 3 & fig. 7). Due to difficulties encountered with programming the Wave Shield, I eventually substituted it with 3 MP3 players (fig. 1).
The working model for the design of the audio system was based on the real life dialogue that frequently takes place between parents/adults (my brother) and a defiant child (his three year old son). The actual audio is a simple dialogue comprised of one entity saying the word YES! (the sculpture of a boy) (fig. 6) and the other entity responding with the word NO! (a grouping of phonographs that represents a parent) and vise-versa.
Audio tracks were created by first recording on an Olympus digital recorder and then downloaded and manipulated on a computer using Audacity, a free audio editing program (audacity.sourceforge.net/). The edited tracks were then converted into MP3 files, downloaded and synchronized on the three MP3 players using the program Itunes.
One MP3 player was devoted to the defiant child’s dialogue and used only one speaker. The remaining two MP3 players were used to operate the soundtracks in the parent portion of the sculpture (the grouping of phonographs). The grouping consisted of 15 separate phonographs each outfitted with a speaker (fig. 4). Seven speakers were controlled my one MP3 player and the remaining 8 speakers by the other.
The Arduino microprocessor controlled each MP3 player by hardwiring them together. I accomplished this by first removing the protective housing from each MP3 player. Then by directly soldering stranded wire to each MP3 players contact points (fig. 5 & fig. 8). The wire leads were then soldered to a protoshield developed by Adafruit Industries to seamlessly attach to the Arduino.
The next step was to write a code that synchronized (see example 1) which tracks were playing and the order they played. The Arudino in this case functioned as a surrogate hand in the sense that it pushed (electronically) the buttons of the MP3 players, resulting in a simple yet effective dialogue.
PIR motion sensors were used to start and stop the Arduino’s code, as a hands free on/off switch. This allowed for periods of audio inactivity unless engaged and triggered by a passing viewer.