Control Launch 3/10/2018

Control Overview

What other ways can we use to control a computer, other than simply using a keyboard and a mouse? This project seeks to explore a range of inputs using electronic hardware such as – buttons, switches, sliders, knobs – and how, when used singly and in combination, they can affect computer-based realtime environments.

We will explore the technicalities of how to build simple control circuits using Arduino (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. and Firmata (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. – creating a ‘control device’ – and develop further our understanding of how to make responsive digital artworks. You will also be introduced to soldering and laser cutting techniques to aid your fabricating methods. This project has a focus on a physical three-dimensional resolve and you should consider how the ‘control device’ is developed in tandem with the realtime output so that there is a clear relationship between the two.

The project is based around the keyword control and you should consider this word both in its literal and in its wider contexts – the notion of controlling; forced control; expressive control; control as having both positive and negative connotations.

GitHub – this is where all the code is stored and all the homework assignments for this project are posted

Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 14.40.03


Arduino 101 – 10am with Jen 4/10/2018

First introduction to Arduino, working in pairs we set up a couple of circuits and started coding using Ardublockly (


This is what an Arduino board looks like. We started to look at read and write, in other words, input and output. We used LED lights as an output and used a slider and a button as inputs. I really enjoyed this workshop as I’ve never played with anything electrical it was especially fun to write code and see something physical come out on the other side.


Notes taken during the Arduino 101 workshop.


Using a slider to dim and brighten LED light using an Arduino circuit.


Using a button to turn LED light on and off.


Using a print line of code to show which numbers are showing when the light slider is used.

Arduino Class 02 5/10/2018


Making my own sketch compatible with Arduino. Here I had one circle which I controlled and two which I didn’t. I decided to delete one and make the other one controlled.


Here both the circles are controlled by the slider moving diagonally while the size of them changes with the noise function.

Screen Shot 2018-10-05 at 12.09.47

A code screenshot from the above sketch.


Simple circuit setup for above sketch and code.



My Arduino came through the post today so I decided to try and link it up from scratch at home, uploading firmata and setting up a basic circuit then plugging in one of my sketches. I obviously had a lot of problems starting with forgetting to upload Firmata… I also struggled with setting up the output LED circuit since I didn’t have a clear diagram, I then found the diagram on GitHub. When I finished with the LED I wanted to go back to my own sketch and couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working…had to re-upload Firmata. I then played around with simple commands on processing getting back into it since I haven’t used it in quite a while. So far I’m really enjoying the project.


Playing around with changing colours and shapes, I let my sister try it out and give me suggestions for this to change in the sketch to practice my coding. A lot of problem solving when setting up the Arduino with no help around but I enjoyed it and it made me figure things out on my own.

Soldering 11:30am 08/10/18


Soldered potentiometer.

Working on my concept I pulled out an old sketch from last year and used a google image of cells just as a trail run.


The potentiometer was controlling the zoom in part of the sketch and the mouse was spinning it round.

Screen Shot 2018-10-08 at 12.25.17.png

Tutorial with Jen at 2pm



Next steps:

– Start research on rules of mitosis and cells, what happens to cells with time? When does a cell multiply? ect

-Based on these rules start to make basic processing rules with rectangles/lines to accommodate the rules.

– Based on the rules and sketches which components would be best and where should they be placed?

-Finally, consider what symbols or words would be useful to help users understand the interface.

While researching Mitosis I found something that kind of represented a clock to explain stages of mitosis:


Screen Shot 2018-10-11 at 15.00.47

Class 03 Buttons and Switches 12/10/18

After the morning workshop I tried to implement the button into a sketch I made last year however this sketch also contained the mouse function so I decided to use both the slider and the button to control it.

Explanation: the sketch is designed to draw two ellipses controlled by the x and y axis. Previously you could press the mouse and it would add blendMode MULTIPLY or ADD. I coded the sketch so that the button controlled the previous mouse press i.e blendMode while the potentiometer controlled the x-axis of the ellipse leaving the mouse to control the y-axis.

More research about Mitosis and Cell Division:

The more research I did about biology the more I realised this really isn’t the direction I want to head in with this project but I understand that making the sketch has to have context and I need to know what happens within cells when they divide.


Workshop 04 with Paul – triggers, sound and video

After the workshop I realised there is way more possibilities with this project than I had first realised. I have never worked with sound in processing before but I think I might want to try it.


All along I knew I wanted the interface to somewhat represent a clock and the visual output to be an interpretation of human cell division however with the possibility of adding sound it could tie both my concepts together. I could create an interpretation on “Life flashed before my eyes” and because I’m focusing on humans I could incorporate sounds that have significant meaning. For example starting with a baby’s cry, then laughter, a clap/clapping, yelling basically the audio file I would fuse together would be an emotional outburst of a human. When implemented in the sketch the viewer could maybe control certain things like distortion of the sound or maybe volume to tune out parts like the crying or yelling and turn up the sound for things like laughter and applause or the other way around it would be a way to experience life in an overwhelming short about of time.

Laser Cutting

Chosen material : 3mm White Acrylic 850mm x 600mm

Chosen components : 1x potentiometer + 2x Linear Slider


The two components which I will be using in my interface.


A detailed sketch describing the interface design as well as choices and decisions which still have to be made when considering the viewer’s experience.

Currently I am working on my illustrator template for laser cutting. Measurements are very important and I have made sure everything is accurate so far. I have managed to create curved text and outlined it so it engraves the way I want it to. Also I have made blue lines for cuttings when creating the holes for the potentiometer as well as the sliders. Currently I am still trying to figure out the legs on my ‘clock’ as I hope they can slide in and be glued with perspex glue however I’m not sure how to delete individual parts of a circles curve which would completely ruin my design.

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 16.02.33

A screenshot of my ( work in progress) illustrator file, since it is set to 0.001pt is looks extremely faint which is why I will upload a screenshot in a different preview setting.

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 16.04.26

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 19.34.34.png

This is the final preview, however incase there was something wrong with it I have also created a backup.

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 19.40.46.png

This file doesn’t have the rectangles at the sides.

Visual aid for tomorrows presentation:


22/10/2018 – Laser cutting + Starting visual code

Not yet glued together prototype of what the final interface will look like. I will need to glue the legs, stick components up maybe with blue-tack, cut green board so that the potentiometer fits and solder the circuit together. This is my to-do list regarding the physical interface.

Visual Code



Working through making I started the code, I’m sure I’ll keep changing and adding to make the code more effective but here are some screenshots from what I made today. I managed to input a potentiometer to control the rotation however I’m still not sure how to wire up a slider.

Further experimentation and exploration of the code.


sourcing sound

I have been considering the audio aspect of my code for a while and I became very indecisive because I wasn’t sure how to gather the sounds I want to use. The sounds are obviously meant to be a representation of a life considering sound humans make like crying, yelling ect. At first I considered recording the sounds to then realise that would be difficult because I’m not expecting to be in a delivery room anytime soon to record a baby’s first cry. Then I considered sound libraries but I wasn’t very fond of this idea as it may become very gimmicky. Finally I came up with an idea that will add to my original concept, bare with me it may become confusing.

My original concept has the purpose of a user controlling a physical interface of a minimalistic clock to alter the visual of abstract growth of cells aka a life and the sound aka a soundtrack of a life. However when considering the soundtrack of a life I realised a good way to gather this would be to consider how millenials actually live their lives now and the conclusion is that lives are now lived through smartphone screens.

We or they, however you would like to look at it, check our or their phones constantly. I always see groups or couples on the street where each one of them is looking at a phone without exceptions. The whole point of me mentioning this is that I could use this ‘view’ as a way of creating my output. I can search and scourge social media to find the audio I need record it through my phone and create a timeline file with all these sounds that I can then feed into processing and manipulate. The visual aspect can also be altered to the dimensions of a phone however I’m still considering if I will go forward with this particular idea about the visuals.

Youtube findings:

First of all let’s just agree everything can be found on the internet.

With fear and bravery I started my search with one word : birth.

Screen Shot 2018-10-24 at 15.23.28.png

Considering how I want to go around this since I have to choose I decided I should probably choose the first video’s that show up for me. I won’t describe every single search I will make but I will like them below.








The videos spanned a very wide range covering music, short documentaries, memes and even news with just 7 searches. This was a very interesting experience and hopefully I can carefully create an effective soundtrack using my research.

I let the soundtrack create itself really instead of me forcing things to match together, in my opinion life isn’t a smooth run so why should the soundtrack be. I’m very happy with the results the soundtrack created it’s own metaphors like for example, the first; birth, starts with some sound and then music is then present in every single video clip up until the last; death. This was quite unbelievable to me and it made me realise I had made the right decision to take the risk. The technique I used reminded me of Christian Marclay’s “The Clock” a real time movie created with shots of clocks in movies. Of course mine was no where near as precise and accurate but it does convey my point of a timeframe.


Working on the soundtrack I put all the separate recording together into one file and I am very pleased with it I personally like it a lot and the process was a lot of fun and quite a unique way of creating for me. I then started working on the code trying to manipulate and import the soundtrack after I successfully managed that I plugged this code into my existing visual code and plugged in my Arduino with the potentiometer this is a testing video of everything I have managed to put together so far.

Sunday Night 29th October 2018

After soldering my sliders I’m getting around to creating code for them. First starting with volume I found an example sketch which helped me a lot I will link it below.

1 November 2018 Final code snapshots





After finishing the project we had a trip to see the Neon festival at Dundee. A lot of the work I seen there had clear links to my insights into this project as the theme for the festival was “Lifespans”. Many pieces explored time, cycles and life seeing all this work created with the same inspiration as mine was a great insight into the possibilities my work could have in the future and what standard of work is expected for Interaction Design. Looking back I do realise my work is very simplistic however I know with time I will learn to make my art as complex as the concepts I often choose to explore. Overall I am happy with the piece and I know I used my time management in a very effective way to make sure everything was finished and working in time for the presentation. I enjoyed coding again after some time away from it, hopefully this year I will improve my coding knowledge and my documentation as the next step for me is definitely to learn more about film and creative portrayal of finished work.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s