Tag: exhibition












Work continues on the project I have been working on with Karl Daubmann and Werner Dahm for Arts On Earth. We now have sound design by Alvin “Munk” Hill from Detroit. We have 22 aluminum ‘cones’, 24 Arduinos, 660 super bright LEDs, 17 passive infrared sensors and a whole load of wiring. Opening Night (Wednesday, November 5) is fast approaching.

I have been working with Karl Daubmann and Werner Dahm on a project for Arts On Earth. Four teams from across the University of Michigan units located on North Campus (College of Engineering; the School of Music, Theatre & Dance; School of Art and Design; and the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning) have been working on projects based on the 4 elements. We are the ‘Fire‘ team. Opening Night is Wednesday, November 5, (5.00 – 11.00 pm), at the Duderstadt Center on UM’s North Campus. This is apt because this date is Guy Fawkes Night (Bonfire Night) that marks the failure of the plot in 1605 to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London, England. Here is our blurb:

“Fire is unique among the four elements in that it is not necessary for life. It is often associated with progress and technology as most modern conveniences, materials, and processes are in some way tied back to fire. Indeed it could be argued that our use of fire and the subsequent technologies that result from this are the defining characteristics of our species. Fire is also unique among the elements because of its perceived volatility, often considered chaotic and uncontrollable in nature. Beyond its dynamic behavior, it exudes a wide range of phenomenal qualities including color, sound, heat, direction, and texture. All of which are predictable based on the laws of thermodynamics.

Our group began by asking how to design fire, rethinking or repositioning its characteristics and attempting to use its broad range without ever having to strike a match. The resulting installation is not one of demonstration or direct teaching but instead tries to use the characteristics of fire to extend the way we might consider technology and experience.

In response, we have developed ‘Fire’, a cluster of digitally fabricated, augmented objects that together form a complex system capable of responding to people, digital information, and the physical environment in which it is situated. The structure is to be located in the approach to the University of Michigan’s Duderstadt Center, home of the Digital Media Commons. This will create a signature piece that will mark the entrance to this state-of-the-art facility.

Taking our cue from analysis methodologies for complex boundary conditions our proposal is composed of autonomous cells that are able to act alone or together. Some cells are able to trigger others and once the system begins, it is not predetermined how or where it will end. Directionality and sequence are used to bias the system without controlling it completely. The units that make up ‘Fire’ are produced using associative geometrical modeling and parametric design and are lasercut from aluminum. Each unit will contain digital processing from microcontrollers and sensors that will operate light and sound. Currently our attempt is to power the installation through photovoltaic panels, capturing thermodynamic energy from the sun as an added layer of autonomy for the system.”


et dukkehjem from John Marshall on Vimeo.

This is a video made from some of the images captured by Torvald during the Chain Reaction festival 11-14 September, 2008, Skopje, Macedonia.

The project website was projected opposite the work:


Even when the work was turned off, people still made use of it:

There is a little photocell embedded in the seat of the armchair ‘Torvald’. This sends a message when it registers darkness. The webcam then takes an image. There is an accelerometer in the rocking stool ‘Nora’. When she is rocked this triggers a randomly selected line of her dialogue to be played as audio. A line of text from the play is also uploaded to the website via Twitter. There is a passive infrared sensor on the underside of the table ‘Krogstad’. As the table is approached the sensor triggers a randomly selected line of his dialogue to be played as audio. And the lamp ‘Mrs. Linde’ changes color from white to red. We plan to make the Arduino code, circuit diagrams and CAD files for ‘Torvald’ and ‘Nora’ available on the website.

Thanks to PLY Architecture and Metropolitan Architecture Practice for collaborating with us and designing ‘Mrs. Linde’ and ‘Krogstad’. Thanks also to Michael Rodemer and Sherman Finch for help with coding and electronics. We are also grateful to Trust for Mutual Understanding for supporting our travel to Macedonia and everyone at Line in Skopje for all the help.

‘Et Dukkehjem’ is up and running and open to the public. Last night was the opening.

Setting up was not plain sailing. We had to improvise and install our own power. So there are more extension cords visible than I am happy with. Also, we fried 2 electrical transformers and ended up using locally bought speakers that don’t sound as good as the ones we brought. Anyway, the site is online and you can see updates from Nora and Torvald there: http://www.etdukkehjem.net/

After weeks of work (and a lot of sleep-deprivation) our piece ‘et dukkehjem’ is on its way to Macedonia for the 3rd Upgrade! International Gathering in Skopje, from September 11-14th, 2008. This event takes the form of a city-wide digital art and networked culture festival including exhibitions, screenings, live local and streamed performances and a program of lectures and workshops from over 20 cities across the world. The thematic focus ‘Chain Reaction’ explores issues of cultural development and growth in the local region as well as within digital networks. rootoftwo will also present a lecture titled ‘The Tao of P.O.O (Post-optimal Objects)’ at European University in Skopje. Now we just need to finish the project website…

Karl Daubmann and PLY Architecture‘s ‘Mrs. Linde’ lamp is now interactive. We have used an Arduino, a PING Ultrasonic Sensor and 20 BlinkMs to make it so that ‘she’ changes color when you approach her. The lamp is laser cut from biodegradable paper (the same stuff used for William McDonough’s ‘Cradle To Cradle’). The base and top are laser cut acrylic.

We are running out of time to complete all the work that needs to be done for ‘Chain Reaction‘. Nora and Krogstad are fully functional (Michael Rodemer helped us out with the electronics). According to FedEx the programmable LEDs for Mrs Linde (pictured above) are on the truck for delivery later today. Karl scaled back his ambitions from the illuminated surface he was planning – we’ll do that next time.


Et Dukkehjem Audio Test from John Marshall on Vimeo.

This is Krogstad talking. He is speaking selected lines from the character of Nora (Helmer from the Henrik Ibsen play ‘A Doll’s House’). The project uses the Arduino Wave Shield from Adafruit Industries. The table will get a custom-designed top that will hide most of the gubbings. The next step is to hook the motion sensor into this set up…