LED’s – Possible Solution

The main idea I wanted to portray through my work, is the idea of the audience creating an interesting visual through the use of a sensor. As I had not created this idea through my first attempt use of ferrofluid I thought hard about what other ways I could create a visual without using such technical equipment where things could go wrong. So I had a thought for a possible solution – using the same frame on the motor but replace the magnets with LED’s, so it would be the same concept as I would have used with the ferrofluid but with light instead of ferrofluid spikes. The closer someone is to the sensor the faster the motor spins, therefore giving different lighting effects. I had to do this at home as I had control over the lights so I could film it in the dark, I do not have the control over the lights in the foyer of Weymouth House so it would not be as effective as if I did it at home. I asked my friend to walk backwards and forwards within the space to see the difference in speeds. I had a worry that the sensor would not pick up information in the dark but it still worked and I got the results I had intended. I attached batteries with wires to the wooden sticks, and then just added in the LED’s to the end of the wires.


I am pleased that I managed to come up with a different solution so quickly, and that it is an interesting visual but still using the same Arduino set-up. This meant I did not have to alter any code or any of the wiring which I would have had to if I had changed to a stronger motor.

My next task: I ordered some weaker magnets to try and see if they will work better with the motor and the ferrofluid like before, but without the motor getting stuck.



2D to 3D – Giving an object life

One of the concepts behind my Ferrofluid idea is giving an object a life from converting 2D to 3D. Starting with the physical reason for wanting to use a free-standing installation rather than digital images on a screen. My approach to my work is more hands on, therefore I feel more comfortable and enjoy working with physical objects rather than objects on a screen.

In recent years there has been a phenomenon in the use of 3D. From making 2D films into 3D, 3D projection mapping and 3D printing more recently. From this it is clear that audiences enjoy the extra dimension that brings things to life, making images or objects more tactile and more for the user/audience, rather than simply for the screen. From the Brandwatch 3D Films Report (2011), quotes from twitter talking about the use of 3D in films show that people feel like 3D is closer to a real life experience, such as one person saying “I can’t wait to see Johnny Depp in 3D”, as though they feel like they would be close to him or maybe even get to engage with him in a life-like environment. I feel this is what it is also like for 3D mapping – ‘VJing’ (Video DJ) companies use it in live music environments to create a complete surround viewing and listening experience for the audience. 3D projection mapping has also been used for advertising purposes such as when Adidas used it for their ‘Adidas is all in’ campaign:


One of the main reasons 3D artwork and installation work is so popular and interesting is because it “takes into account the viewer’s entire sensory experience, rather than floating framed points of focus” (Modern, c.a. 2006). The audience can use numerous senses within installation and 3D art, depending on the type of design. This is why I have chosen to use installation art for my interactive design. Installations are said to be “more experimental and bold” and “they are also usually cross media and may involve sensors, which plays on the reaction to the audiences’ movement when looking at the installations.” (Modern, c.a. 2006). This is they reasoning behind me wanting to use a sensor as it only involves the audiences movement to make something happen within the installation, hopefully meaning that more people will interact and engage with it.

The Tate Modern article also links installation art and theatre together, suggesting they are both played for a viewer who is “expected to be at once immersed in the sensory/narrative experience that surrounds him”. Showing that installation art can be seen as an act, that a viewer/user engages with to create the show. This is an idea that I want to portray through my design; that it is an an act or even a dance in which the audience is a viewer as well as a user of the installation and the ferrofluid is like a puppet with the magnet being the puppeteer.

My idea was build on this concept of changing 2D to 3D, by using a free-standing installation rather than a screen, this already brings the object to life. I could have simulated the ferrofluid using Processing and had it on a screen, but I wanted it to be free standing so the audience would have something more physical and tactile. The actual ferrofluid itself also portrays the idea of bringing something to life, as without the magnet it is simply a viscose black liquid. However, when the magnet is underneath it almost as though it comes to life with the growth of the spikes. If there is a lot of movement with the magnet the spikes of fluid can dance, which would make a great installation if set to music.

Overall, I feel that my idea will have character to it and therefore will be interesting to audiences. 3D designs give life to ideas, to create different experiences for audiences. I am looking forward to creating my design and seeing how audiences interact and engage with it.


Adidas, 2011. Adidas France – 3D Mapping Projection [online]. Adidas. Available from: http://vimeo.com/21216142

Brandwatch, 2011. 3D Films Report [online]. Brandwatch, Brighton. Available from: http://www.brandwatch.com/wp-content/uploads/brandwatch/Brandwatch-Example-Report-3D-Films.pdf.

Modern, T. c.a. 2006. Installation Art [online]. Saylor, Arlington. Available from: http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Installation-art.pdf

Revised Ferrofluid Idea

After researching into the Arduino’s capabilities, it is not going to be possible to have an electro magnetic current running through as there is not enough power in the Arduino and it could cause a lot of damage if completed wrong. So my revised idea is to have a motor with magnets on the end of rods, and a Ping sensor that determines how close or far away someone is which will change the speed in which the motor rotates.


(Please excuse my drawing skills!)

I feel that although this is still going to be challenging for me as I am new to Arduino, it is going to be one of the simplest approaches I could do with the outcome being very effective. The audience will have to engage with it in order for it to do anything, and I feel the use of ferrofluid will be very new to most people.



Arduino Uno

For what I am hoping to achieve, I am going to need to use an Arduino board to create the installation I am wishing to make. Arduino is an open source electronics platform with simple hardware and software. The Arduino board I can have access to at University is the Arduino Uno board which looks like this:Arduino_Uno_-_R3The Arduino Uno board allows you to upload sketches onto the board, and “receives input from many sensors and affects its surroundings by controlling lights, motors and other actuators”. The Arduino software uses a code similar to that of Processing, telling the Arduino what to do by programming the code and uploading it onto the board.

This is going to be the best thing for me to use as I am wanting to make a free-standing installation using ferrofluid and magnets. I have been looking into the kinds of things I can use with the Arduino to make it interactive, and I think a PING sensor would best suit my idea.


Use a PING sensor on the Arduino Uno to determine how close or far away someone is. Rig up an electro-magnetic current through the magnet and other screw-like objects to create ferrofluid sculptures. The sensor would determine the strength of the current running through the magnet, so if no one is near nothing will happen, but if someone wishes to engage with it then the current will kick in and the sculpture will be formed.



SparkFun Electronics – Arduino Uno R3.jpg – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Arduino_Uno_-_R3.jpg

Open Libraries for Processing – Bouncing Face idea

After researching for my idea of having a bouncing face from the camera capture, I realised I needed to use a face detection/recognition example, and these are not available in the examples given, but they are in the Open Library on the Processing website and on the software in the Library manager section. They can be installed and used by everyone as they are Open Source.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 15.10.21

For what I want to achieve I downloaded the Open CV library, which uses the import of

import gab.opencv.*;
import processing.video.*;
import java.awt.*;

For my next step I am going to have to separately get the face recognition to work, and capture an image from from the face recognition, and once that is working I will be able to merge the codes from the Open CV and the Bouncing ball to hopefully get a working outcome.

Here is the face recognition Open CV working:

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 17.09.47

This is it working detecting one face, now to see if it recognises two faces…

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 17.14.39

it does!

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 17.16.02

…It even detects David Bowie’s face!

This is helpful for if I want to advance my idea to become more than one bouncing ball with more than one face on it. So my next step is to make the sure my bouncing ball sketch is working and then I will be able to combine and merge the elements of the two codes to create the bouncing face.




Ferrofluid is a magnetic liquid, that when it comes into contact with a magnet, it forms small spikes, as shown in the image below.

Ferrofluid_Magnet_under_glassI have been studying and putting to use ferrofluid for a while and I am always intrigued by it and the forms it creates. So this is why I would like to be able to use it in my final outcome, and incorporate an interactive form into it to entice audiences to engage and learn about it.

Ferrofluid_in_magnetic_fieldThere are a few downsides to using ferrofluid; as you can see from the image above, it stains surfaces very easily, leaving a horrible brown colour behind. Another downside is that the ferrofluid must not come into direct contact with the magnet, otherwise you would not be able to separate them after. However these can be solved if great care is taken, and I think it could create a very interesting installation.

This is what it looks like when ferrofluid is put onto other metal objects with the magnet next to them, and also what ferrofluid is like when it is in water. An electro-magnetic current can also be passed through magnets, so the level of current going through the magnet can be changed by altering the electricity going to it. This could be a very interesting idea what I would like to explore further before I come to my final decision on my outcome.


Gregory.F Maxwell – Ferrofluid Magnet Under Glass.jpg – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ferrofluid_Magnet_under_glass.jpg

Steve Jurvetson – Ferrofluid in magnetic field.jpg – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ferrofluid_in_magnetic_field.jpg

Camera Interaction in Processing

Within Processing there are numerous examples of camera interaction that can be used and edited to create various different forms of camera interaction. Below are the video examples that are given:

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 14.30.37

This could be a good basis for ideas for my interactive design, and then I could build the idea

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 14.47.31

The most important part of camera interaction is the code above – this loads the camera for the information to be captured from. The possibilities with camera interaction for almost endless, see my Interactive Design Ideas post for my ideas of what I have come up with for camera interaction.

For example, this is what the Mirror 2 example looks like when run,


Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 14.43.29

but it can be altered so easily, such as in the image below I changed the colour by changing the number of the background colour, and I also changed the ‘rect’ to an ‘ellipse’, making the pixels circles instead of squares.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 14.59.20


From this, I am going to go through the examples already given and try and edit to try and create a really interesting and different example. One of my ideas is to capture a face and link it to my bouncing ball example, so it is essentially a bouncing face, this will be my next Processing task.