Things about final performance

Really impressed by all the other artists @Echosystems show. Loved to be among them while installing, such a nice cohort. The church was like a beehive.  Felt the focus, the despair, the companionship, the excitation, the quiet confidence, the delight, the exhaustion. Felt the love of the creators for their creations. Everyone nurturing its piece, making it happen. And above all, the always digilent and so resourceful tech team.

Finally, I enjoyed the process of devising with the nodes and the rehearsal period in the church which culminated in the final narrative when human node actors joined the play. Quite happy with the final performance of the node actors and the wonders it provoked.  Human and non human nodes were acting and improvising vocally as an ensemble and the result was quite harmonious.

In another context, less academic, I would like to try to investigate the potential for provocation in the piece.


Things about the future

Future Development

From my perspective, this final piece is a perfect alliance between two art forms : puppetry and computation. This is not about robotics, this is about new form of puppetry. Robotics is about serving a predefined purpose, a feedback loop. Puppetry is about looking for narratives from a unique space between the objects,  the viewer and the puppeteer, it is about listening to the material. In the ubiqituous computing, there is a shift from human to non human puppeteers.  Who is the controller, who is the performer, who is the audience?  I believe that new forms of narrative will come from the understanding of the computational nature of the material provided by the new technologies and how the internet of things are perceived as “alive” and “intelligent”. In my future practice, I shall seek to pursue this investigation of the new uncanny space of computation and find new narratives for non human actors. I will also look for opportunities and budget to scale up the size of the puppets to blurr even more the frontier between human and non human performers and collaboration with human actors to investigate improvisation with “intelligent” objects.







Things about where I am now

Overall in my process, I hugely draw from the Dada artists and their use readymade objects to “present intriguing overlaps and paradoxes” and in my computational practice, I am too,  “seeking to demystify  artwork [ computational art] in the populist sense but nevertheless remain cryptic enough to allow the viewer to interpret works in a variety of ways.”

At  the end of my journey into the MFA, my practice has drastically evolved in the sense this two years have revealed a purpose while giving me new tools and methodologies to achieve it. Learning how to use code to create art, rooted me in my contemporaneity. Writing an essay about how the Network interfaces act as theatrical masks, opened a field which I believe will be with me for a long time. 

“The code is a shadow bubble” installation is a practical result of my research about the Network masks. Where, last year was about me as a human performer behind the mask , this year was about non human performers , the crafted electronic artifacts, behind a network installation.

Thanks to the first year which taught me object oriented programming and to the open source community of hackers on Github, I was able to teach myself how to code in javascript and python and even how to use natural language processing and neural network programmation.

For this ultimate project in the MFA, I also had to learn how to create a Web server, the use of Github and Atom in my workflow and dig deeper into the Physical Computing.  The process to investigate deeper in a resarch subject and to translate it into an installation was a long and rewarding journey and although I collected a lot of material along the way I have not used everything in the final outcome.

In addition to make artistic choices and not to show everything I know, the difficult part was to stop prototyping, as I am a true crafter and was always tempted to add new resources or technics into my creative vessel.

In theatre making, until the act is performed , everything can change, and the embodiement of this process was sometimes painful as I felt streched between all the potential scenarii for my non human actors. Until they were fixed , soldered , I could potentially change the script forever. Being in the exhibition space helped me to rehearse the piece with the crafted performers and was crucial.

Things about the boxes

Each family on a box. Dc motors and servo motors and the master puppet servo controller with the sensors. on the Background the drawings

Even the design of the boxes and how they will add to the general character of the piece is important. Found some nice legs on ebay for the trapeze box , the master puppet box , as a whole, it looks like a sort of insect now!

Interaction between boxes only through sensors

design for the master puppet box: thanks Colin!

Things about puppets versus robots

Although robotics could be incorrectly seen as a modern form of puppetry, robots and puppets do not serve the same purpose. Puppetry is about looking for narratives from a unique space between the objects,  the viewer and the puppeteer, it is about listening to the material. Where the outcome in puppetry is about magic, wonder and surprise, in robotics, it is about serving a feedback loop. Evolution in the art of puppetry comes from the computational nature of this objects and how they come to be perceived as “alive” and also from a shift in the casting of the controller.

Things about dielectricity and slip ring


Along the journey of designing the puppet controller, the alien “director” of the installation, I was actively researching how to be able to have its body continuously charged while spinning on itself. First I used a coin cell holder


attached to the aluminium wire, and add also a small resistor 10 ohm to avoid overheating the battery as it was serving continuously 3V along the wire. I used this version for the mini version of the installation at the Digital Culture Eva conference.

Although it was working correctly and gave a pleasant aesthetic , it did not last very long, the body was loosing its electric charge very quickly , and the connection to the sensor were not stable at all.

After the first show and work in progress presentation, I looked for a more permanent solution and I came across the notion of dielectricity. which is how long an item is staying charged even after having been disconnected from a power source. And I went deepr into my research for a solution, I came to discover that Teflon and water have very high dieletric ability. Unfortunately neither of those material would be a solution for it. It was really a desesparate situation as the ability for this character to control was at stake if I could not find a solution which would not be a human touch. I was really keen to give the control of the installation to this non human character.

Luckily , sharing my problem around me and especially with Nick from the tech team, gave me the solution : the slip ring system! With this I would be able to have the wire spinning without entangling the electrical wire connected to the ground.

I immediately ordered it but when I received it, I faced another challenge. Although it was a great technical solution , the aesthetic of this object was not compatible with the rest of this installation and I could not see a nice way to fit in the controller box or above it without destroying the harmony of the installation!

After few iterations and out of despair, my puppeteer craft ability saved me once again! I had discovered my own interpretation of a slip ring : a simple screw with a size just above the puppet body’s diameter, and a recycled open screw scavaged from the magnifier holder, soldered to a conductive wire. the whole system will be enough close to the body to charge it, while allowing it to spin freely !


Things about devising process with the node-artifacts

Developing a methodology to improvise with objects

from research to production
looking for the seeds3
research feed, find the sources, read and find the subject
essay writing feed, write and explore other paths
playing with codes, learn new languages and environment (python, node.js, atom, github) ,practice, trial and errors, tame the compiler
playing with the artefacts, develop a closed relationship with your puppet artefact, the puppet mirror effect projecting a part of your soul in it

staging the interface with the viewer respond to the same tricks as in puppetry: variation in your effects , in time, intensity and type

prototyping and devising process with the machines

prototyping warming up
engage with the material through little exercises
find the momentum
use repetitions to open imaginary paths
explore new paths and feed the process
create a new system

stop prototyping
let it grow,
engage with the artefacts
nurture the system
stage, script and scenario

let it go, engage with the characters we created

feedback , external/ internal input
watch the seeds grow and cut the remnants

pitch it and be your own outside eye
feedback , go and find another outside eye to get new input
when is the time to stop listening to other voices and hold on to your artistic vision?

messy creative process is painful but necessary
keeping tracks is essential

deadlines are useful

about sharing the vision, taking the feedback input, listening/ not listening

when everyThing goes wrong

hardware/ software

go back to the basic and repeat and scale it step by step.


Things about Sound vizualisation

Finally giving a backdrop to my node performers. Like the idea to use the sound produced by their sole movement and that they do not need humans  to have those drawings on the wall.  As if now they have their body character, they need to communicate with it.

Need to calibrate the drawings should allow to see the distinction between frequencies of human  and non human voices.  Allow the shadows and node silhouettes to appear along with the drawings .

Learning with and with Alexander Quadratov