Pi Cap Connected Drawings

Playtronica has collaborated with Swedish artist, Rebecka Tollens to create an interactive project using the Pi Cap and Touch Board. We caught up with the team to find out more about their project.

The exhibition is called ‘’Connected Drawings’’. Can you tell us more about the story behind this title?

The exhibition was called DAYDREAM / DARKNESS / DISGRACE. It was a great opportunity to collaborate with Rebecka, whose work focuses on visualising her dreams and then drawing them out. We recorded Rebecka’s voice while reading her nightmares out loud and linked the audio-clips to the black and white drawings so the audience could have a full audio-visual experience.

How does it feel to add voice to dreams? Does this make them more real?

Yes. This is what gave us the idea of making the drawings interactive in the first place. This concept was reinforced by a quote from Kandinsky, who said, “It would be great if people can interact with my paintings”.

To add interactivity to the drawings, you used the board’s proximity mode. Can you share more about the process behind this and the programming you had to do?

We used the Arduino IDE to program the Touch Board for proximity and used Ableton to crop the voices and upload them to the Touch Board’s memory card. We used aluminium tape to connect to the posters and cold soldered small wires to the contacts of the board. Finally, we made sure to calibrate the sensors a lot before the show. 

For the sound, we used headphones to encourage visitors to interact with “the dreamy drawings”. This technology proved very convenient both in terms of ease of use, and display. It was great not to have computers around, just small wires, headphones and a memory card with sounds. Magic!

You also used the Pi Cap, which is a Raspberry Pi add-on. How did you find it? Did you encounter any difficulties?

We’ve been following Bare Conductive for 2 years now, so we were really excited about the Pi Cap and the new possibilities it opens. The only difficulty we experienced was setting it up to run both the proximity and touch functions at the same time without any screen. We had to email the team at Bare Conductive to help us set all the functions up, but we got it up and running for the whole installation time.  Everything went great during the expo!

What do you find the most interesting about using new technologies in art?

Our main interest is exploration. We’ve always been interested in creating a synesthetic experience. Rebecka’s drawings made absolute sense for this theme. The audio-visual interaction offered a new dimension to her work. 

How did people interact with the installations?

People got really excited by the new possibilities embodied in these installations. The boundary between sound and image got thinner and the audience was excited to feel and understand this new medium of interaction. 

Some people focused on trying to understand the meaning of the words, while others were more interested in the technical. One visitor picked up on the monophonic and polyphonic differences between the Touch Board and the Pi Cap and was curious to know about the technology behind the installation.

It’s not the first time that Playtronica has used our products (we’re very pleased)! Are you planning any new projects using the Touch Board or Pi Cap?

Yes, we really like the technology behind Bare Conductive’s products and we’re going to use the Touch Board in our future projects and exhibitions. An upcoming project is an installation at the Moscow Zoo, with audible posters with butterflies and also an interactive immersive theatre production, Shshshshsh!, where we used the Touch Boards for the main characters’ costumes. We’re also preparing a collaboration with a Parisian artist, in May. 

Any dream that you’d like to come true?

To create more useful technologies and devices, that can be integrated into education and have more creative fans like Kesha.

Images & Video: Playtronica

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