Moshe Ladanga

Interactivity and Programming

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We had a fruitful 2-day workshop with Ed Kelly, who introduced us to Puredata last year. The explanation was more in-depth, and we were able to load a basic puredata program into Arduino boards.

arduino-layoyut.gif

Arduino Board- Illustration by Elisa Canducci

As in the diagram above, there are analog and digital inputs, which makes it ideal for interactivity; it is usually the case for interactive works to have both analog and digital components.

Puredata, as explained by Ed, is designed for interactivity because it is a programmable language for the play and interpretation of numbers, hence “pure data”. The data can be streamed in from microphones, different sensors, video cameras, etc. What makes it quite interesting to me is the graphical interface, which uses the simple logic of objects, feeds, taps, switches, buttons (“bangs”) and lines that connect these things together. It’s like a virtual lego set with endless possibilities for configuration.

Julien Ottavi PD Patch.jpg

Julien Ottavi’s Pd patch for fibr1: meta-percussions (http://www.noiser.org/noise/doku.php?id=puredata&DokuWiki=da4b3ac3319270ee81a84d759f3e449c)

Since Pd was invented by a musician (Miller Puckette), the way it works is quite different from other programs- instead of a user interface that facilitates different functions, Pd is a meta-program tablet; I liken it to a piece of paper where, instead of a pencil, you have data streams. And instead of drawing something directly, you shape and configure these “channels”, and these in turn can be connected to each other, creating a system that can be open to data feeds (sound, video from sensors via the Arduino chip). The way I understand it (I hope I’m not being too prosaic) is that you can modulate data, shape and sequence it, and sort of choreograph how data is interpreted, transformed.

I’ve never done serious programming all my life, and admittedly I was afraid of it. But the graphical interface really intrigued me and when I was able to load the program into the arduino board and figure out how to make the LED blink without a hitch, I was hooked.

For our project though, the thing that I’m worried about is the stability of the system; Puredata is open source, and unlike other interactivity programs (like MaxMSP), it is still being developed, and there are bugs- during the presentation of Ed Kelly, there were quite a few times that his laptop would freeze up.

But the great thing about the workshop is that my mind opened up to the possibilities of interactivity. We had an informal tutorial with Ed, and we explained our ideas for the project. He said a really brilliant thing about interactivity, and that it is about how you want the viewer to experience your work. The sensors and the technology is not the art, but it is the choreography that you design between the viewer and the moving image that will shape the experience.

That made my day.

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Written by mosheladanga

February 23, 2008 at 8:09 PM

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