Gamerz 2.0

4 February 2008 at 9:13 pm (Circuit Bending Workshop, Exhibition, Games, Hypermedia, Mechatronics,, Sound)

I didn’t had time to write about the Gamerz 2.0 exhibition, so here I am trying to fix this…

First, Antonin Fournaud and Manuel Braun’s Patch&KO, a mod of Street Fight II introducing a control device where you must loose control to be able to play. The device is basically an hybrid between a bean game, a Pachniko and a marble machine using iron balls in a pin field making electric contacts. Each contact may be transformed in an action (like hit, jump, etc.). Here is a video showing it in action:

Servovalve presented a “worm” version of Carbone: a software that copies an image (a face to be precise) in a random mode.

Damien Aspe built a real and colorful Tetris wall called From Russia with fun:

Guillaume Stagnaro presented a piece called XOX, two robots playing Tic-tac-toe programmed to never loose and never win. In this situation, the only way to win is not to play.

Grégoire Lauvin presented Weith Contest, a multiplayer music game where the gameplay is based on weight. The heaviest measure plays the sample.

Pierrick Thébault (from L16) made a cool hack from CyWorld making a porn version called CyPorn.

The night finished with a live musical performance by Confipop and Sidabitball using Game Boys as instrument to generate sounds and images.

More information about the works presented here and the ones I didn’t mention here.


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A/V Feedback

10 December 2007 at 12:30 am (Circuit Bending Workshop, Hybrid Workshop, Hypermedia,, School of Art, Sound, Videos)

Here is a schedule of my project in the hybrid workshop and sound/hypermedia AOC (Creation Tool Workshop)…

Basically, I see the electronic components of the computer and its structure as a filter to generate and modulate sound. Using a phone pickup coil (a kind of “mic” that is able to register electromagnetic variations some decades ago this kind of material was used to spy phone calls), I listen to the computer electromagnetic variations.

I treat the collected signal with Pure Data, where I digitalise it and send the data to processing, in order to produce a visualisation of the sounds. I want to pick up the signal straight from the video card. Since the computer treats both the audio and the video signal, we can considerate this kind of experience with a kind of A/V feedback.

This work is based on three references. First, the most obvious for me : Alvin Lucier‘s piece, I am sitting in a room (1970). In this piece, Alvin Lucier uses a room as a filter, his voice is deformed by the room acoustic proprieties. In the end, the room is seen as a music instrument.

Another obvious reference is the Feedback exhibition (held in 2007) in Gijón – Spain. Among the art works, the one of the 5voltcore piece : Shockbot Corejulio (2004), a hacked compute, where a robot produces circuit connexions directly on the video card.

Finally, once again, Nicola Collins‘ workshop about circuit bending and work with feedback is my last reference.

To finish, I’ve made a small animation as a schedule for my project, here are the details :

Animation here

Source codes: Presentation_AOC_LAB_DS_Fictions_2_c Electre Moniteur Noise Plug Pure_Data Speaker carte

Source code ziped

Built with Processing

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High Voltage Circuit Bending

9 December 2007 at 2:58 pm (Circuit Bending Workshop, Hybrid Workshop, Links, Mechatronics, Sound, Videos)

Here is an example of high voltage (HV) circuit bending: a keyboard connected to a tesla coil. When you play a note, the tesla coil is activated. I don’t know how dangerous this is… so… I don’t know if it is a good idea to do it…

Still in the HV theme, here is another video of what we can built with a HV Power Supply (more then 30k volts): we can build lifters. Basically, when the 30kV field is generated, the air around the anode and cathode gets ionized and start to create an unstable plasma gas vertex. When the air particles hit the aluminum sheet, a small force is generated, when you make the sum of all the forces, the structure starts to lift. To build a HV Power Supply, you can use and modify an old cathodic tube. Here, you can find how to build your own lifter (be careful please…) and here you can find some theories about how lifters work…

Well, here are videos of lifters, enjoy it:

And now with some speech:

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Low tech : a bending spirit…

5 December 2007 at 11:25 am (Circuit Bending Workshop, Hypermedia, Mechatronics, Sound)

After a long absence, here I am to write again… In fact I have a lot of stuff to speak about but I haven’t enough time to write everything down… Maybe I should see my time schedule again in order to fit some time for the blog…

This time, I’ve seen a post in Digital Tools blog speaking about low tech sensors and actuators with a circuit bending spirit. This post made me obviously think on Nicolas Collins‘ work and workshop at the academy. The interesting part of his post are the links: one to a wiki that teaches how to build some low tech devices; and the other one to the lowtech.propositions website.

Thanks to this pot I got to know this architecture company website, with some interesting features (in their old website) like interactive design and artistic research.

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Circuit bending app…

11 November 2007 at 11:34 am (Circuit Bending Workshop, Links, Mechatronics, Sound, Videos)

After all the circuit bending workshop posts, some of you asked me about the interest on circuit bending and how we could use in a creative way… Well… here is a cool video made by Gijs showing his work and what we can do with this kind of practice… So take a look on what we can do with a Game-Boy, a home-made sequencer, a camera, some lights and motors… The project name is Camera Sequencer… I although give you the project page called Gieskes.

I hope you enjoy it…

If you like technical details, here are some more comments about this project.

Another project from the same person is the Sega Mega-drive Sequencer

Here you can see a video showing its result :

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Final round, for now…

4 November 2007 at 12:23 pm (Circuit Bending Workshop, Mechatronics, School of Art)

In the last two days of the workshop we learnt how to control a switch with a NOT door oscillator and how to build an oscillator with modulation. Basically it is made with several NAND doors (that is an AND door witch the exit is linked to a NOT door, there fore it gives to opposite of the logical sum of the two entries… ok… technical crap…) built in a cascade form. The NAND door has two entries; in this case we use one as a start-up control and the second one as a pitch control. The start-up control can be seen as an automatic switch, when you have power the NAND door is ON and it works, when not, it is OFF and it stops to work. The pitch control works exactly the same way as the previous oscillator; a variable resistor controls the frequency.

Switch controlled by a NOT door oscillator:

Workshop Bending - Last days

Workshop Bending - Last days

NAND door oscillator controlled by 4 light sensitive resistors and a potentiometer:

Final production:

Workshop Bending - Last days

Workshop Bending - Last days

Workshop Bending - Last days

Workshop Bending - Last days

The difference between this oscillator and the previous one in multiple exit addition is the output shape. The NOT oscillator adds the signals, so we have a sound that is the result of a sum. The NAND door modulates the signal, which means it changes the signal shape. With constant resistors you may not see the difference between both oscillators. But when you start to vary the resistances, you’ll see that the way the sound changes is different.

The last day of the workshop was used to solder the final circuit. We have made a small demonstration for the people who were in my art academy and we cleaned up all the mess we did the last six days.

I will end up this post with a video from a Electroacoustic instrument called Rectable :

This instrument works with several oscillators (controlled by the computer) in signal addition mode and signal modulation mode.

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Rock around the clock…

31 October 2007 at 11:24 pm (Circuit Bending Workshop, Mechatronics, School of Art)

Today, we started the day rocking some toys’ circuit’s clocks. Electronic circuits have clocks inside in order to have a time base for the rest of the circuit to work. If you change this time base, the other components of the circuit will run faster or slow down. There are two ways to build a clock in electronics (in fact there are more ways but this two are the most common and simple ones): you can use a crystal or you can use a resistor and a capacitor. The resistor and the capacitor is a really cheap solution and we can find theme in many cheap games; the good thing is that they are easy to find and to change. To find theme we only need to use wet fingers and patience: you touch the components and you listen to see if you get some slow motion effects. Then we have to change the resistor into some other kinds of variable resistors (photo resistor, variable resistor, pressure resistor, etc.). Each kind of variable resistor can be seen as a single interface with its own characteristics, a little like instruments: a saxophone and a guitar can play the same notes but the musicians don’t play a guitar like he plays a saxophone. A little anecdote about the title of this post, the first time I understood that the speed reading a record can change its pitch was with the song Rock around the clock, I played it in a 45 rotation mode and the record was in 33, something like this… And since we are playing with clocks and pitch, I remembered this funny experience.

After the interface exploration, we started to learn something really technical: building oscillators. Building an oscillator starts with some basic logics. Using NOT doors (that is a logical function), we generate a signal that is the opposite of the entry: when the entry is low the output is high, when the input is high the output is low. So if you take the output and plug it back to the input, the signal oscillate from low to high and low and high, and so on…This generates a square shape wave.

Circuit Bending - Atelier Mecatronique - Day 2

But the problem is that the oscillation happens really fast and we don’t have a way to control its frequency. So we have to put something to slow down the signal changes. We do it simply with a capacitor and a resistor. The capacitor loads itself slowly and unloads fast; the speed that the capacitor does this is linked to its capacity and the resistance of the resistor.
Circuit Bending - Atelier Mecatronique - Day 2

When we plug this to the NOT door, we build an oscillator. If we use a variable resistor we can control oscillation frequency. That’s how we build a square signal generator. This square signal has amplitude set between 0V and the battery voltage (in our case 9V), so we can control a speaker or LEDs, fans, etc. When the signal is low the component controlled is off, when its high the component switches on.

Circuit Bending - Atelier Mecatronique - Day 2

Since the chip has 6 NOT doors, we can build a system that generates six different signals, with six capacitors and resistors. The problem is, if you add all six signals you will have a gain too high, so when you link the signals, you do it in parallel and you add a resistance to control the signal gain. The resulting sound is an addition of all signals together. Each “channel” can have its own indepedent interface.

Circuit Bending - Atelier Mecatronique - Day 2

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First day, first experiences…

30 October 2007 at 9:36 pm (Circuit Bending Workshop, Mechatronics, School of Art)

We started the workshop making simple experiences with sound.

Workshop Bending - Day 1

The first experience was to use a speaker, wires and a 9V battery to generate sound, thanks to feedback. We take two wires, we put one of theme on the speaker’s membrane and we approach the second wire in order to make contact. Surprise: we generate a sound that is specific to that particular speaker (it works on all speakers). What happens is that the speaker’s membrane vibrates making the contact go on and off witch produces the frequency we can hear.

Workshop Bending - Day 1

Ok… This was sweet and easy… And what if we take the two wires and we “taste” the materials around us? So we started to play with materials fixing one wire and scratching the second on it. The result is some strange sounds. The material’s asperity (more or less visible) makes the scratched wire to close and open the circuit, generating frequencies that we can hear.

Ok, so with a battery, some wires, a cheap and old speaker, we can actually make sounds… Hum… Interesting… No amps, no expensive and complicated electronics… Ok… But let’s try to put some electronics on it…

The speakers and microphones are built the same way… The main difference is that they are originally built for a specific function (to generate sound from an analogical signal; to generate an analogical signal from a sound). “Normally” you put the speaker in the output of an amplifier and the microphone in the input. But, if you put a speaker in the output and another one in the input, you will find out that the speaker plugged in the input works like… a microphone! Oh what a surprise! The main difference between a microphone and a speaker used as a microphone, besides the visual aspect, is the sound signal generated. Using different speakers as a microphone modulates the sound in different ways… And if we put the speakers in front of each other, cool sounds come out…

Workshop Bending - Day 1

Another device used to generate sound is the buzzer… The buzzer is basically a crystal that vibrates when electricity goes thought it. But, if you vibrate the crystal, you have electricity production, therefore a sound signal. So, if we put a buzzer in the input of an amplifier and a speaker in the output we should hear something…. But the buzzer only generates sounds when the crystal vibrates, and the crystal is a solid, not a membrane, so it needs more energy to vibrate. So buzzers are able to record strong vibrations (like in solids). This makes us able to record cool sounds that are produced inside materials (like ice melting).

Workshop Bending - Day 1

Like the speaker used as a microphone, you can use the buzzer and the output speaker in a feedback mode, here is an example of what you can do, basically, we taped the buzzer to the plastic glass and connected it in the input of the amplifier. The sound produced makes the glass (and the buzzer) jump and produce sound witch makes them jump, etc.

After this we discovered a nice device that reproduces the electromagnetic waves to a sound signal. The cool thing is that you can copy a signal and amplify it with no electric contact. This device was used to spy phone calls (now the armies must have more high tech devices for that… I guess…) , but you can use theme to spy all kind of electromagnetic generator devices (like a computer, or a circuit)… This device can’t be used to produce sound, only to generate signals…

The last component we saw to produce sounds as a microphone was a magnetic head. The magnetic head is able to read data on magnetic tapes or cards. The head generates an electric signal that can be converted into sound.

Workshop Bending - Day 1

Finally, we used radios to generate some strange sounds by opening theme, licking our fingers and playing with the circuits.

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Let’s start, shall we?

29 October 2007 at 7:47 am (Circuit Bending Workshop, First ones, Mechatronics, School of Art)

Good morning (here it’s morning). Today we start the mechatronics workshop with Nicolas Collins, about circuit and toys bending. We had to buy some equipment: a simple radio, some simple electronic devise, a small flashlight, a 9V battery, a cutter.

I bought a tamagotshi and a talky-walk, here are the pictures before the operation.

Tous ensembles pour l'atelier mecatronique

Tamagotshi face

Tamagotshi dos


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