Touch Board Interactive Installation; Think, then Connect

Touch to make visible the invisible is the objective of Joan Adrover Roman’s project. We caught up with the creator of this Touch Board powered interactive installation to find out how the project was made.

The main idea of this project was to combine a traditional piece of art with interactivity. Joan wanted to create a classic framed work, but one which required the audience’s interaction to complete it.

Joan says that in Art and Design, the fields in which he works, it is absolutely necessary to be constantly up to date with the new technologies and systems of transmission and reception of messages. In his view, it’s important that art consumers change their perspective, from being passive to actively engaged with the work themselves.

This was the reason that he decided to work with the Touch board and Electric Paint. He found these tools allowed him to create the perfect connection between the user and the work piece.

The way the piece works, is that when a member of the audience touches the paint, the light fades in and completes the piece and its message. The code establishes that during while there is contact with the conductive paint, stripes of UV LED light gradually get turned on, and if contact with the surface stops, the inverse effect takes place.

The programming itself is fairly simple and it fits what Joan wanted to achieve, that the hidden message gets progressively discovered by the audience. The message is written with a stencil and invisible UV ink.

The electronic circuit of this project is quite simple. It consists of three key elements: a Touch Board, a surface painted with Electric Paint and finally a 12V power supply.

The Touch Board was hidden in the bottom of the frame, which allowed Joan to be able to hide all the wiring and get a clean output.

To interact with the viewer, Joan painted the wooden frame with Electric Paint and connected it to a pin of the Touch Board using a copper adhesive strip. This adhesive tape allowed him to camouflage the copper under the text and to maintain contact with the paint. 

The one problem he encountered with the piece was that the connection between the copper wire and the Electric Paint got disconnected more than once, so the readings from the Electric Paint changed. However, he used this problem as an opportunity to use another even more magical characteristic of the paint, proximity sensing. By simply bringing his hand near the surface, without actually touching the painting, the light could turned on and the whole message was displayed. This was a great feature of the piece because it meant direct contact with the artwork wasn’t necessary.

Joan noted how interesting it was to observe people’s reactions to the piece. In the beginning, they didn’t know how to interact with the touch element, because they couldn’t imagine that the surface was conductive.

Then, when they touched it for the first time, they never kept the hand in place because they thought that they may be electrocuted. It was amazing to see their faces when the whole message appeared and they realised how the whole process worked.

Images & Video: Joan Adrover Roman

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