Secrets of the Universe

If you’re here for the grittier engineering details (code samples, etc.) you can find them here: Secrets of the Universe System Description Document (SDD)

The Secrets of the Universe” (SOTU) is an interactive art installation and performance which explores various topics in physics and cosmology.  This was done in collaboration with Simonne Jones and Jem the Misfit for Platoon Kunsthalle in Berlin, Germany on 9/5/2013.

I engineered a system of motion detecting wirelessly controllable paintings. Check out my recently published article about it in Make: MagazineGo Behind the Scenes of Installing an Interactive LED Art Exhibit“.

Ask yourself, “Self, do I love interactive arts?”

if( answer == "no" ){
 "quick. check your pulse."
 if( "alive" && "in a parallel universe where the gene for not loving interactive arts is the norm"){
 "give love a chance"
 } else {
 " < X..X > "
 } else {
 "read on"

I love interactive artwork, especially technology infused ones for their ability to add a layer of inclusion to your experience. We no longer passively observe the work, we instead become a necessity to the life of the work itself. Our unique self-expressions force the piece to behave in ways that the artist may not have intended (other than by creating the very platform that enables this freedom to express).

If you’re anything like me at these installations, you find yourself trying to figure out how they function. You think “Where’s the Pi?”, “What programming languages were used?”, “What would I have done differently”, or, slightly more creepy (I’ve done it) track down the artist after the show to ask them these questions. No need to track me down. I’m here to demystify one such installation.

Thanks to the popularity of Microcontrollers like Arduino and Raspberry Pi, we’ve seen an abundance of artists learning electronics and programming to build tech into their work. It’s wonderful to see such a warm embrace of technology as a medium for their creative expression.


Prepping the Controllers