What Goes Around sketches – February 2018

Some sketches to visualise the What Goes Around objects that may feature in the final installation. From spacecraft to insekts [sic], these are initial drawings of what may have been sent back to us from space.

Arduino adventures: triggering MP3 files with distance sensor

Finally got the circuit built to be able to read the distance sensor and the MP3 board, so now I can trigger a selected MP3 to play when something passes the sensor. What I built previously was overly-complicated and was most likely shorting out.

The videos show the sensor working from 1ocm distance, but this is easy to vary. They also show the sound looping if the object sensed stays in range, and also two separate pieces of audio being triggered. This was changed in the code before being uploaded. The code used is below.

Next to make it play a random one of the MP3 files each time the sensor is triggered!

//code rearranged by Javier Muñoz 10/11/2016 ask me at javimusama@hotmail.com
#include <SoftwareSerial.h>

#define ARDUINO_RX 5//should connect to TX of the Serial MP3 Player module
#define ARDUINO_TX 6//connect to RX of the module

#define trigPin 13//for the distance module
#define echoPin 12

SoftwareSerial mySerial(ARDUINO_RX, ARDUINO_TX);//init the serial protocol, tell to myserial wich pins are TX and RX

//all the commands needed in the datasheet(http://geekmatic.in.ua/pdf/Catalex_MP3_board.pdf)
static int8_t Send_buf[8] = {0} ;//The MP3 player undestands orders in a 8 int string
                                 //0X7E FF 06 command 00 00 00 EF;(if command =01 next song order) 
#define NEXT_SONG 0X01 
#define PREV_SONG 0X02 

#define CMD_PLAY_W_INDEX 0X03 //DATA IS REQUIRED (number of song)

#define VOLUME_UP_ONE 0X04
#define VOLUME_DOWN_ONE 0X05
#define CMD_SET_VOLUME 0X06//DATA IS REQUIRED (number of volume from 0 up to 30(0x1E))
#define SET_DAC 0X17
#define CMD_PLAY_WITHVOLUME 0X22 //data is needed  0x7E 06 22 00 xx yy EF;(xx volume)(yy number of song)

                #define DEV_TF 0X02 //HELLO,IM THE DATA REQUIRED


#define CMD_PLAY_WITHFOLDER 0X0F//DATA IS NEEDED, 0x7E 06 0F 00 01 02 EF;(play the song with the directory \01\002xxxxxx.mp3

#define STOP_PLAY 0X16

#define PLAY_FOLDER 0X17// data is needed 0x7E 06 17 00 01 XX EF;(play the 01 folder)(value xx we dont care)

#define SET_CYCLEPLAY 0X19//data is needed 00 start; 01 close

#define SET_DAC 0X17//data is needed 00 start DAC OUTPUT;01 DAC no output

void setup()
  Serial.begin(9600);//Start our Serial coms for serial monitor in our pc
mySerial.begin(9600);//Start our Serial coms for THE MP3
delay(500);//Wait chip initialization is complete
   sendCommand(CMD_SEL_DEV, DEV_TF);//select the TF card  
delay(200);//wait for 200ms
pinMode(trigPin, OUTPUT);
pinMode(echoPin, INPUT);


void loop()
sendCommand(CMD_PLAY_WITHFOLDER, 0X0203);//play the third song of the second folder
delay(1000);//wait to avoid errors

void sendCommand(int8_t command, int16_t dat)
 Send_buf[0] = 0x7e; //starting byte
 Send_buf[1] = 0xff; //version
 Send_buf[2] = 0x06; //the number of bytes of the command without starting byte and ending byte
 Send_buf[3] = command; //
 Send_buf[4] = 0x00;//0x00 = no feedback, 0x01 = feedback
 Send_buf[5] = (int8_t)(dat >> 8);//datah
 Send_buf[6] = (int8_t)(dat); //datal
 Send_buf[7] = 0xef; //ending byte
 for(uint8_t i=0; i<8; i++)//
   mySerial.write(Send_buf[i]) ;//send bit to serial mp3
   Serial.print(Send_buf[i],HEX);//send bit to serial monitor in pc

long measureDistance(int trigger,int echo){
   long duration, distance;
  digitalWrite(trigger, LOW);  //PULSE ___|---|___
  digitalWrite(trigger, HIGH);
  digitalWrite(trigger, LOW);
  duration = pulseIn(echo, HIGH);
  distance = (duration/2) / 29.1;
  return distance;


Aperture – initial sketches for musical visualisation projection

Some initial sketches for projecting light through apertures. The apertures will be based on a visualisation of a song or piece of audio. These are the shapes that will make up the apertures.

Aperture - initial sketches for musical visualisation projection
Aperture – initial sketches for musical visualisation projection
Aperture - initial sketches for musical visualisation projection - version 2
Aperture – initial sketches for musical visualisation projection – version 2

Creative AI meetup #16: The Art of DeepDream and GANs

February’s talk looked at DeepDream as a window on aesthetic experience (Owain Evans, University of Oxford) and GANs in an art context (Anna Ridler, Artist).

Owain Evans, Postdoc, University of Oxford

“Deep Dream as a Window on Aesthetic Experience”

Deep Dream produces intriguing, dog-filled images. This talk is not about these images but about process that generates them. I’ll explain the process and consider how it sheds light on human aesthetic experience. Deep Dream works because the neural network automatically computes “resemblances” between disparate objects: e.g. between a meatball and a dog, or a cat’s ear and a beak. Our own ability to see these resemblances is crucial to our experiencing art.

Owain Evans is a postdoc at the University of Oxford, working in Machine Learning with a focus on AI Safety. He also leads a collaboration on “Inferring Human Preferences” with Stanford University and Ought.org. His PhD is from MIT, where he worked on cognitive science, probabilistic programming, and philosophy of science.

Anna Ridler, Artist, http://www.annaridler.com

“Misremembering and mistranslating: using GANs in an art context”

Research has looked at whether artificial intelligence, and more particularly machine learning, can create art. Producing an image using a GAN versus any other way gives the viewer a different experience, expectation, history, traces and contexts to consider. What are these associations and how might they be used in a piece of work? I look at how I have used this associations in my own work and projects, particularly focusing on training sets and GAN generated imagery.

Anna Ridler is an artist and researcher whose practice brings together technology, literature and drawing. She is interested in working with abstract collections of information or data, particularly self-generated data sets, to create new and unusual narratives in a variety of mediums, and how new technologies, such as machine learning, can be used to translate them clearly to an audience. She works heavily with technology at both the front and back end of projects (what is exhibited as well as the research that goes into the piece). Her intention is to make work that is not about technology for its own sake, but rather uses these technologies as a tool to talk about other things – memory, love, decay – or to augment or change the story in a way in that otherwise would not happen.

Particularly interested by Pix2Pix and plan to dabble with that over the next few weeks.

Tate visit – Emeka Ogboh’s The Way Earthly Things Are Going

In this immersive installation, Nigerian artist Emeka Ogboh makes a connection between the volatility of financial markets and the movement of people seeking better lives. A traditional Greek lamentation song is complemented with real-time stock market indexes moving across an LED display. The Way Earthly Things Are Going was commissioned by the art exhibition documenta 14. It was installed in a raw concrete auditorium within the Athens Conservatoire, an iconic building but one which has become a symbol of failed utopian modernism.

Taking its title from a lyric in the Bob Marley song ‘So Much Trouble in the World’, this work references the current financial crisis – particularly significant to Greece, but also of global relevance – and the migration of people fleeing war and economic hardship. The ticker tape displays financial data, transmitted live from dozens of stock exchange indexes around the world. This is slowed down to match the pace of the singing, recorded specifically for this work with a traditional polyphonic choir. The lamentation song ‘When I forget, I’m glad’, from the Epirus region of northern Greece, recounts a story of forced migration and relates to the present economic situation in Greece.

The feeling of wandering the perimeter of this piece was mesmerising. Each speaker seems to contain and project a different voice of the choir, the sounds melding and changing as you move around the vast echoing space.  The human voices contrast with the cold hard facts of the stock prices on display. Both the singing and the prices are in a language (for me) that I find hard to understand, although the sentiment of both seems abundantly clear. The installation uses the  large concrete space perfectly and I could happily have wandered from voice to voice under the slowly-flickering ‘scoreboard’ for much longer than I had time for. An inspiring yet simple use of sound and (moving) image.

Inspiration for the ‘Space Rock’ audio player

I want to make one of these. Imagining them as a limited edition for a band or artist, loaded with samples of their work, so the user can create their own soundscapes. Could be a version using the Voyager Sounds collection?

And also a nod to the interactive tilt radio by Luka Or, whose shape initially inspired the ‘Space Rock’.