‘Nora & Torvald’
By rootoftwo (John Marshall and Cezanne Charles)
Birch plywood, Arduino micro-controllers, sensors, speakers, audio.
‘Nora & Torvald’ embeds sensor-controlled digital media in custom-designed pieces of furniture. The starting point of this work is a re-reading of Henrik Ibsen’s play “A Doll’s House” (1879) to explore user-object relationships.
There is a photocell embedded in the seat of the armchair ‘Torvald’. This sends a message when it registers darkness (i.e. when someone sits down). This triggers a randomly selected line of dialogue (one of ten) from the play to be played as audio. There is an accelerometer in the rocking stool ‘Nora’. When she is rocked this triggers a randomly selected line of her dialogue (also one of ten) to be played as audio.
A&D 5th Annual Faculty Exhibition, Slusser Gallery, 2000 Bonisteel Blvd. 1st floor.
‘Nora’ and ‘Torvald’ both use the Adafruit Wave Shield for Arduino Kit.
Sample dialogue (when 2 people are sitting):
T: This time I needn’t sit here and be dull all alone. You have just come at a fortunate moment.
N: It’s wonderful! Wonderful things don’t happen every day. Take this armchair; I will sit here in the rocking-chair.
T: Has anyone been here?
N: What a thoughtless creature I am, chattering away like this.
T: You can depend on me.
N: It will make me so happy to be of some use to you.
T: Don’t disturb me. Look straight at me.
N: I am in a silly mood today. Come and sit down here, and I will show you something.
T: How unreasonable and how ungrateful you are. What sort of madness is this! Can you not understand your place in your own home?
N: What do you want of me? Have you been sitting here waiting for me?
T: I may as well tell you plainly, we were once on very intimate terms with one another.
N: You don’t understand me, and I have never understood you either.
T: Explain yourself better. I don’t understand you. Can I never be anything more than a stranger to you?
N: You must simply listen to what I say. I have existed merely to perform tricks for you.
T: You are right, it has affected us both. Something ugly has come between us. Where are you going?
N: Isn’t there one thing that strikes you as strange in our sitting here like this.
T: Here you shall stay and give me an explanation.
N: Does it not occur to you that this is the first time we two… have had a serious conversation?
T: On the contrary, I feel extraordinarily lively. And you? You really look both tired and sleepy.
‘Fire’ is no more. There was some will for it to become permanent. However, this was not to be. On reflection, mounting subwoofers on the underside of the office of the building’s namesake was unlikely to result in permanence. Karl has installed the ‘cones’ in his backyard. He’s calling this piece ‘Ice’.
I am just back from a week in Kyoto, Japan. I went there to begin the process of producing an exhibition for The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto in 2010. While there I visited OMRON, who will be providing sensing and control technologies for the project. I also met with faculty from Kyoto City University of Arts.
I met many people and saw some amazing things, but I think this roller coaster (below) in Osaka was one of the most striking things I saw.
The ‘Fire’ project was featured in the gallery at the Behance Network site. 666 people have viewed it since yesterday. We have been asked to keep it on site until February and there is talk of making it permanent. We have no idea what the impact of the Michigan weather will be on it. It was never intended to be there that long. So far it has survived the rain and snow…
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.
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.
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.”