Barbie & Fish
It was the first official week of my (Media Art Technology) course which has already got me thinking of the possibilites of things I may want to look into or have a play with. The week started with sessions about Arduino and a bit of the history behind it, as well as looking into other types of creative building / programming such as Pd PureData, MaxMSP, Quartz Composer and VVVV.
We looked more closely for this weeks sessions at Arduino and what that entailed, namely that it is no just code, or a board, but it is the board, the code and importantly the community. We had a look at interactivity in general and how this word does seem to be attached to so much lately – but what actually is it and what defines it? Is it about people? Communication? Does it need to be complex?
We also had a quick look at Keyboard Hacking, Toy Hacking, Circuit Hacking and other damn fun similar things that I can’t wait to get my hands on. Some interesting examples were shown with Barbie, Bubble Machines and a Dancing Fish, well lots of dancing fish, and a few lobsters too: http://www.sashimitabernaclechoir.org/home.html Now I’m not saying I particularly liked this but, I can see what we are being shown and that it is a mighty impressive hack. (Ok, I kinda liked it.)
All this did get me thinking about the large amount of waste in all our technological equipment – and toys, and combining them sounds a great idea. I was thinking about mice and keyboards particularly because almost everyone seems to have a spare one or two of these; that’s a hell of a lot of spare ‘junk’ around.
We talked about concepts of ‘tinkering’, and just doing it, think of something and make a quick mock up, not having to commit to a polished untested product and just make changes and test as standard. I think I read that Dyson made over 5000 prototypes for the first vacuum cleaner he sold – that’s a lot of prototypes and illustrates so well the idea of trying everything out.
We also talked about finding things that are already out there and modifying it. It may seem obvious but hearing that took out a lot of the ‘scare’ factor when thinking about making something. It’s a genius idea – no point in making things that are already there so finding what’s out there and modifying it, or giving it another / different purpose is perfect.
Another great tip was to look for the lowest tech solutions. This was also an eye opener, an example was a toy bubble machine which had a mobile phone in it for activation. Most of us were thinking that it would be programmed, some complicated thing to activate it – but it was just used for vibration or light which activated a sensor. Brilliant simple solution.
Other sessions we looked at the types of sensors that we could use, and had a play with putting together a few programs with the Arduino kit. It’s been a week of inspiration and of starting this exciting time of learning and thinking about possibilities.
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