Part 4 – Balance Light – Wii Balance Board & Arduino

Physical Movement Controlling a Light Sculpture – Wii Balance Board & Arduino

Balance Light is a work which allows for the physical movement of the body to have a direct impact on a sculpture. Practicing yoga and/or mediation on a balance board, which I use to track the values of weight distribution, has a direct effect on the tissue flower light sculpture which I build.


Wednesday 17 February

Wii Balance Board/ OSCulator/ Processing

I managed to find a used Wii balance board on eBay and won the auction it arrived on Tuesday 16th. I cleaned it up downloaded OSCulator and wanted to check if it works. I put batteries in paired it up and got a blue flashing light as well as it showing up on OSCulator so I’m pretty positive it works! I tried to look for tutorials but most are about the wii remote and the forums are very specific questions so I decided to sign up for studio support. Paul said he’d be happy to show me the basics as well as how to link everything to processing so hopefully I can move forward with this on Thursday.

Before my studio support I wanted to sync up my balance board with OSCulator so that in my studio support session with Paul I wouldn’t waste time trying to get all the basics done and instead have more time to focus on processing.

Luckily my board has values between 0 and 1 which will make it really easy in the code later on.

Thursday 18th February

Studio Support with Paul at 2pm

Paul showed me how to talk to the board through processing and made a simple sketch drawing a line based on the virtual x and y values basically drawing the balance of a person. Paul wants to show me how to incorporate a few more of the values so we will go over that later.

I really like being able to draw these because in yoga it’s often mentioned to stay grounded and balance is so important so drawing these values maps out someones practice through their feet. Also there are far more poses that can be done on the board than I initially though, the board detects subtle moments so even stretching to one side is significant and shows up very well.

Tissue paper and LEDs

I had this idea to make paper flowers with the small LEDs in the middle as I though this might be a nice way to manipulate the light as well as tying in with my the plants and nature aspect I’ve been trying to achieve. I was obviously really worried this would look extremely crafty but then I thought I can’t judge it before I even try it. I also had a look at Arduino code and instead of a binary on off state and explored the lights fading in and out creating a more subtle effect.

I felt this was actually quite successful and I think I should experiment a bit more with tissue paper and lights. I’m also quite excited about potentially connecting the wii balance board to the fading of the lights making it much more interactive than the ‘Breathing Companion‘ when only the push of a button was required from the viewer.

Thursday 18th February

I’ve been thinking about how I would stage these flowers or anything I decide to move forward with using tissue paper and then I thought of the clear perspex box I made for my jelly design domain box and I made a smaller version of it completely by hand. Turns out I still have it and I think it’ll be a good ‘container’ for the less and tissue even the fact the wires will be visible I quite like because it’s than mixture of delicate material with computerisation so I think I might experiment with this a little.

I tried to use the box in a previous project which is why it’s covered in paint so I’ll need to give it a clean. But it did give me the idea to potentially stick tissue paper to the sides of the box maybe even drawing some of the posenet outcomes on it.

Sketchbook notes and planning.

Monday 22 February

Today I wanted to use the code Paul showed me in studio support to start getting outputs using the Arduino. This is directly linked to the development of Part 1 on my blog where I was exploring physical computing with meditation and lights so this is almost like a second iteration of that. Some of the things I wasn’t happy with in the ‘breathing companion’ I wanted to change when working with the wii balance board, for example the balance board allows for the viewer’s movement to be the input. I also wanted to move away from the ON/OFF binary state of the buttons and the lights switching on and off and decided to make LED’s fade instead. I’m really happy I worked on the ‘breathing companion’ because it allowed me to get back into coding and physical computing without being overwhelmed and now I can continue and change things I wasn’t happy with.

I started with soldering 6 LED’s with resistors as I wanted all of them to be as secure and safe as possible. I picked 3 blue LED’s and 3 green ones as I feel these colours have been a stable throughout my recent work and to me they have connotations of calmness.

After about an hour and a half of soldering I finally did them all. I think I’m doing something wrong or setting the temperature incorrectly because the soldering iron tip doesn’t seem to be clearing off properly, honestly I’m not too sure I watched a lot of tutorials but maybe I’m still doing it wrong. After I managed to do them all I had to test if they worked and then played around with the code because there were a few things I wanted to change around.

After playing around with the code a little more I got around to making the LED’s into the tissue flowers that I have previously tested in Part 1 of the blog.

I wanted to contain the flowers in a box to create a more concentrated focal point so I used the perspex box I made in first year by hand. Luckily I made a hole at the bottom of it so I could put all the flowers through.

Paul helped me tidy my code when showing me how to get the virtual x and virtual y values as well as the distance between them so now that I am working on my Arduino code it’s a lot simpler to understand and work with.

I then tested the box with the balance board and you can see I changed the code so that when I wasn’t standing on the board the LEDs gave off a very subtle glow and when I stepped on the board balancing in the centre the Lights would glow more intensely.

I made a little video to demonstrate how the box works right now. I really wish I could stage this properly like in the basement of the barnes in the little separated ‘room’ in the dark I think it would be very effective and I wish I could get better documentation but I still wanted to show how it works so I did it this way.

I am really happy with how I managed to make this experiment physically work by soldering, using an Arduino and getting OSCulator to speak to processing with the Balance Board values. I think it is very successful but I had a hard time documenting it and Ideally I would like to create much better documentation for this work. It is also very small scale therefore if I was planning to exhibit this in a physical gallery I would need to reevaluate the size of it and possible use bigger LEDs to create a more significant sculpture.

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