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Artist's inventor applications of servo motors

In Jen Hall's work Acupuncture for Temporal Fruit, (year) twelve bell jars covering tomatoes are suspended from the ceiling. When a sonar sensor is triggered by human presence, acupuncture needles pierce the delicate red tomatoes under the glass. The needles are pushed forward using servomotors, which receive signals from a microcontroller.

 

Acupuncture For Temporal Fruit  by This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , engineering by This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , fabrication This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Kyleboard design Kyle Jarger. 1999.


After being pierced the tomatoes leak, shrivel, and grow delicate molds around the wounds. Hall says about the work, “they are slaves to a repetition and compulsion.” For Hall, this work is a metaphor for the issues surrounding our medical system, technology, and ethics.

In this installation, the artist has recontextualized the acupuncture needle (an instrument of healing) into a sinister weapon. While the machines appear clean and clinical and carry the language of the “rational sciences”, the piercing action alludes to torture, pain, and death, and the viewer/participant becomes complicit in causing the needles to hurt these passive objects. The tomatoes also serve as metaphors for the delicate human body.

The contemporary artist Daniel Rozin created a wooden “mirror” that recreates the face of the viewer using hundreds of servomotors to micro-position small pieces of wood. The motors work in concert with a camera and a computer that reads the average light levels of the image. It is then able to move the wooden pieces toward and away from a light source.

 

 Wooden Mirror by Daniel Rozin. 1999. 61" x 70" x 8"

 

This positioning creates light and dark pixilated images of what the camera sees. The sound of the wooden pieces being moved into position is an important component of this work.

The designers Amanda Parks and Hayes Raffle from the Tangible Media Group at the MIT Media Lab have invented a set of 3D building blocks that use servomotors in a unique fashion. Instead of programming the motors to move, they invented a toy that allows you to construct your own Topobo creature and then program the work simply by moving the individual blocks. As you move the blocks, pulses of the motor are fed back to a microprocessor, and this movement is then stored as pulses that are replayed to the servomotors in the sequence that they were originally moved.

 

Topobo  by  Amanada Parks and Hayes Raffle. 2003.

 

 
Topobo  by  Amanada Parks and Hayes Raffle. 2003.

 

This clever interface allows users to realize complex behavioral manifestations for Topobo while not having to enter software code.