Tag Archives: art

This artist turns celebrity tweets into psychedelic art

With the help of Arduino and LEDs, this Maker combines analog and digital tech to convert tweets into vibrant light shows. 

Today, it seems like just about every celebrity has a Twitter account. Whenever big names like Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus send out a post, not only do they receive thousands of retweets, they become an instant trending topic. Interestingly enough, artist Lori Hepner has taken their updates one step further by photographing them. Wait, what? You heard that correctly, she transforms their 140-character rants into psychedelic images.

@KimKardashian 4:06 PM - 1 Sep 2015 September Selfie Cover of @interviewmag #InterviewGang

@KimKardashian 4:06 PM – 1 Sep 2015
September Selfie Cover of @interviewmag #InterviewGang

As part of a series she calls Status Symbols, the Maker combines analog and digital tech to convert the tweets into an actual physical object, which she then photographs to create vibrant, circular shapes. Hepner’s Twitter portraits can best be described as a visual manifestation of celebrities’ fragmented thoughts — an exploration that recognizes the online musings of cultural icons and ultimately studies identity in the era of social media.

The idea for such an eccentric project came about nearly six years ago, after obtaining her first Arduino board and programming it to make eight spinning LEDs flash based on the binary code within a tweet. According to WIRED, a hashtag is red, the @ symbol is orange and quotes are purple. Every word becomes a random color in the light show. From there, Hepner uses a medium format camera to capture long exposures.

“I wanted to leave some of it to chance, but the patterns of language and the inherent patterns of the binary code come through. In my brain, I saw them as circular and presented in a way that you can’t undo the code, you can’t extract it,” the artist tells the magazine.

Intrigued? You can browse through her entire portfolio of Twitter portraits here. You’d be surprised. Even some of the most mundane, accidental pocket tweets translate into beautiful imagery… Right, Lady Gaga?

[h/t WIRED]

Artist creates interactive paintings with Bare Conductive

This Denver-based innovator is bringing art to life with an audible, tactile and visual experience.

Step into any gallery and you can expect to find “Do Not Touch” signs plastered everywhere. What this means is that, in most cases, the piece of art stimulates only one of the five human senses. However, a Denver-based originator has set out to change that by providing viewers with an audible, tactile and visual experience as they glance at the imagery before them.

Thomas “Detour” Evans is not your typical artist, nor has ever aspired to be. In his recent collection dubbed Art and Decibels, the 30-year-old creator has devised a series of interactive, sensor-laden paintings that are specifically meant to be touched in designated spots. By doing so, the image is magically brought to life through sound.


“This collection features the evolution of how I perceive art in the 21th century. With music as the foundation, It’s not enough for me to just use conventional methods; it’s empirical that I bring in other amazing artist of various forms to bring pieces alive,” Detour writes.

Upon first glance, Detour’s pieces appear to be meticulously crafted portraits of popular hip-hop stars, ranging from Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac to Nas and Kendrick Lamar. However, beneath the canvas of each image lies a unique combination of electronics and conductive ink. The artist has employed Bare Conductive’s Electric Paint along with a few Touch Boards (ATmega32U4) to enable each still-life to seamlessly double as an actual MIDI controller.


This gives audience members a dynamic way to interact with the painting and truly connect with the subject matter laid out on the canvas. Unlike countless other forms of wall-mounted art, Detour explains that viewers are now able to become fully immersed, both mentally and physically.

In order to bring this next-gen creations to life, Detour team up with several his close friends and veteran musicians to ensure the proper design of every painting so that they could play music and be manipulated like an instrument. This concept is something Detour has been brainstorming for years.

“In 2009 I became infatuated with figuring out how to connect the viewer with the subject on the canvas… I mulled over the idea of deconstructing and reconstructing a MIDI controller and installing it. Unfortunately the technology and the canvas didn’t mesh well. It wasn’t until I stumbled across the Bare Conductive Kickstarter that I saw some of the potential with the Touch Board. When I got the package and took the Electric Paint and Touch Board to one of my DJ/producer friends, it became the start of a long process to create these interactive paintings,” the artist revealed in his latest interview with Bare Conductive.


The creative process, which he has elaborated upon in a tutorial over on SparkFun, includes wiring the back of the canvas so that the sensors are emerging through the front in various locations. These sensors are connected to a computer and act as triggers in such a way that, when tapped, they emit a sound. Generally, every painting features around a dozen or touch points, each delivering a unique tune. Once the electronics are embedded, Detour paints his masterpiece just as he would any other portrait. Cognizant of where the sensors are located, he envisions how a particular piece needs to be manipulated — whether that’s using the outline of a milk crate as a matrix MIDI soundboard or lines on a t-shirt as a keyboard.

“I use the Touch Board in two different ways – one is the mode that is installed when it’s shipped. These pieces are usually combined with a bunch of other electronics that allows it to be a touch boom box painting with speakers,” Detour explains. “The other way is with the MIDI mode turned on and hooking it up to a computer. This way is the real ground breaker because it allows me to collaborate with friends and to have performance on each piece. It’s setup more like an instrument.”

Pretty sweet, right? Head over to Detour’s official page to learn more, as well as get started on creating a musical masterpiece of your own here.

Controlling the behavior of light with a physics simulator

This installation is like a rollercoaster of lights.

Created by Madrid creative studio Espadaysantacruz, Light Kinetics is an interactive installation where light behaves as matter under the laws of mechanics.


The project is comprised of 78 tungsten bulbs connected to a rack of 20 four-channel DMX dimmers, all of which are controlled by a physics simulator built with Unity3D. An Atmel based Arduino was employed to capture the impulses, while Processing was used to interface between Unity3D and the dimmers.


How it works is relatively simple. A piezoelectric sensor situated in the first bulb captures the force of a tap, generating a light particle that moves along the loop. The initial impulse is regulated by the strength of the tap, creating a very natural interaction. Adding more strength behind the touch causes the light to move faster and can overcome the force of gravity. Conversely, when one presses the bulb softly, light falls slowly along the loop.


“Light, as we usually see it, is an element that lacks mass, to treat it under the laws of gravity is somehow magical. The laws that describe the behaviour of light are hardly understandable because it neither behaves as body or as a wave,” ___ writes. “As Einstein wrote concerning the wave-particle duality: ‘We have two contradictory pictures of reality; separately neither of them fully explains the phenomena of light, but together they do.’ In this project, we have built a computer simulator that reduces this extraordinary phenomenon to the simple classical mechanical laws.”

Interested in learning more? Head over to the project’s official page. In the meantime, you can watch it in action below.

These 19 inflating aluminum cushions are powered by Arduino

Nineteen by Nils Völker on display at M0Bi – Groningen.

Artist Nils Völker has created a soundscape using golden aluminum cushions to contrast the industrial appearance of its surrounding temporary art space built from shipping containers in Groningen, The Netherlands. The installation — which is aptly called Nineteen — uses custom electronics, computer cooling fans and an Arduino to rhythmically inflate and deflate the 19 large mylar foil cushions. See it in action below!


Bridging the gap between science and art

Writing for The Conversation, Sydney tech researcher Olivier Mehani describes how the evolving Maker Movement is helping to bridge the gap between science and art.

Photo Credit: Chris Devers, The Conversation

“The Maker movement has recently gained a lot of momentum. Yet, in many aspects, Makers have been around for a while, from amateur radio operators adjusting their rig to allow clearer communication with remote contacts to software hackers reprogramming their printer so it works the way they want it to,” writes Mehani. 
“Even the casual DIY-er who builds a vertical garden out of found materials is a Maker. Seeing a problem and fixing it yourself (rather than buying a new radio, printer or a bigger house) is often not that hard and quite rewarding.”

According to Mehani, the Maker Movement is rapidly growing due to a number of factors including the increasing availability of reasonably priced and easily modded technology such as Atmel-powered Arduino boards.

“The advent of various models of Arduino boards tremendously lowered the barrier to entry to tinkering with electronics,” says Mehani. “Communities quickly formed around these new technologies. One no longer needs a degree in computer science to work out how to make computers do interesting things.”

Mehani also notes that 3D printers, such as the Atmel-powered MakerBot and RepRap, have been playing a major part in the paradigm shift from user to Maker.

“These devices transform reels of plastic filament (or metal wire) into physical items. The cost of producing prototypes and parts is greatly reduced, and design by trial-and-error is much more affordable,” he continues. “Not all makers are driven by a prosaic problem they need to solve. Artists are also embracing these new technologies and the possibilities they represent.”

As Mehani points out, one of the most important aspects of the Maker Movement is its potential to be used for education.

“Whenever I need help, I know I can rely on the Maker communities around the Internet for information and advice, but most importantly, I’m having fun while learning. Making represents a great opportunity to teach technology – not only how to use it, but also how it works – to the next generation of adults,” he added.

“Makers know how to bend the world to their needs, and don’t let objects dictate their use to us. In a world increasingly reliant on technology, it is important to be able to lift the cover of everyday black boxes, and make devices behave the way we want them to (not the other way around). The Maker communities offer a great way to learn how to do just that and may help shape the next generation of scientists, engineers and artists.”