Research

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

harvest
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

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

when everyThing goes wrong

sensors
hardware/ software
soldering

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

 

Questions about designing the sound visualisation

 Like the idea of sound visualisation and how it embodies the impact of the machines on their environment. What sort of shapes or visualisation to use? Testing the shapes for the backdrop with human and machines in connection of their talking. 

“In the fusion torch recycling, The emancipated spectator The torch of the sensor is ashamed Cheat the eyelash! 9dfbf0 for the node torch. Grumbling makes the loaf no larger The buildings look like endangered blouses The vertices will link their uncapped mask”

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 https://www.unicornsfartpixels.com/posts/2017-10-25audio-fft/ and https://www.openprocessing.org/sketch/446310 with Alexander Quadratov

Things about the voice for the crafted nodes

Prototyping Char RNN Neural networks generating text

Trying to find a voice for the crafted electronic nodes- Node Poetry

In the process of characteristation, the nodes need a voice .  I like the idea of the nodes generating their own poetry based on texts I will fed to them. The challenge then , is to find appropriate texts to train the neural network

testing a Char RNN model based on Max Woolf ‘s training model : https://github.com/minimaxir/textgenrnn, an open-source framework by Max Woolf, written in Python and powered by Tensorflow.

First set of seeding texts were user guide for tourist and servo safety guide , 

“Keep quiet when you are punctual if taking part in a shop
loosen up and bring an adventurous spirit
take time to a complete stop
applicable regulations will result in death or serious
Install and avoid hazards involved are authorized to work on your knife.
loosen up and bring an adventurous spirit
Install and all other people’s belongings with the fork parallel across the right side of your host
Ensure you are punctual if taking part in a shop
It is advisable to take your place in the right while eating.”\

The result is fun but  not any relations with the idea of the network of nodes.

Better result with another set of texts :   Wendy Chun and Updating to remain the same. Cambridge, Massachusetts : The MIT Press, 2016 and U.A Meijas . Off the Network. USA: Electronic Mediations , University of Minnesota Press, 2013, in addition to extract from my essay on network masks and some further thoughts about puppetry. 

Put the mask on your face, and become a node’, ‘between 0 and 1
This is the marionette
the Network is Blind
Internet is Myopic
the puppet is Workaholic
the Network is a Trail
the interface is Sniffing
the interface is a Collective Traveller
sensor is on
sensor is off
the code is binary
shadows are invisible
we are the machines
Ask the marionette
a puppet never dies
we are humans…

asking the model to qualify the main social media : ” google computers are invisible,  google the mask on your face, and become a node “

taking the “good sentences ” produced by the model and put it again in the training model

Questions about Narrative in Physical Computing

Things about actuators , sensors and calibration is there a natural order when scripting a story telling in physical computing?
Actuators are designed to activate not to inactivate

As per definition of actuators in wikipedia : “An actuator is a component of a machine that is responsible for moving and controlling a mechanism or system, for example by opening a valve. In simple terms, it is a “mover”.”

So among the electronics artefacts, I have the actuator, the passive and the one which could be moved by the actuator. stop moving when the actuator is not on anymore . stop moving is not a positive form, form of resistance of non moving
Odd that it is more easy to activate than to inactivate a servo… It looks less easy than you think .The way things are built with motors is that their actuators are there to make them move , but not make them stop …