Home Introduction Preface

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
~Albert Einstein

This book is designed for creators who would like to have electronic processes and microcontrollers demystified. By reading and pursuing the lessons in this book, artists, inventors, engineers, industrial designers, and hobbyists will get hands-on experience with component electronics, microcontrollers, robotics, mechanical processes, and building techniques.

By studying the artworks and inventions documented here the reader will also find unique ideas and design solutions. The photo documentation and texts associated with each work discussed will offer the reader insight into the creative process of a diverse and inventive community. These works and texts will also allow the reader to visit numerous contemporary themes evolving at the intersection of the arts, invention, technology, and electronic control. These works will further raise issues and questions about the nature of interactivity, user interfaces, and human machine interaction, broadly.

This book will serve as an ideal primary text for courses in electronic machine art, kinetic sculpture, interactive installation, cross disciplinary and beginning engineering, physical computing, sound sculpture, wearable computing, dance and technology, cybernetic fashion, animatronics, neon sculpture, staging, industrial design, entertainment engineering and puppetry.  

We have seen an increase in the use of animatronics for television, robotics in art galleries, theatres and museums, amusement parks and interactive science museums, robotics for education, robotics for human interaction, (AIBO) educational robotics, (Boebot), presentation robots designed to give out literature of solicit money, robotic music or robo Djs, artwork creating robots, robot painting, mechatronics and animatronics, robot competitions (robot wars) and simulation of living systems in robots.

Electronics can be frustrating when the maps are overly technical and this book features hundreds of original explanatory 3D visualizations to get technical and conceptual ideas across in a simple and direct pictorial fashion. Individuals and schools can benefit from the structure of this book, as it focuses on creative thinking and actualization of projects from conception to realization.

Because art and invention exploration are tangible processes that involve conceptualization and actualization through building projects, it provides opportunities for understanding scientific and mathematical concepts through kinesthetic learning.

The text offers step-by-step instruction in prototyping circuits in breadboards, interfacing circuits to a microcontroller, programming, testing, conceptualizing, building techniques and debugging.

Concise lessons and parts specifications are offered on the use of the Arduino with MAX MSP and Jitter, the MIDITRON TM and the Basic Stamp 2 and will allow the reader to control light emitting diodes, servo motors, variable speed DC gearhead motors, solid-state relays for control of AC lamps and motors, infrared, magnetic sensors and buzzers. The lessons in this book are also applicable to other microcontrollers such as the Arduino which now has a worldwide following and is more reasonably priced then the BS2.

Design considerations and aesthetic issues are also considered in light of user and audience experience. Choice of materials, which get at cultural associations, will also be an ongoing theme. Parts sources, mechanical basics, gluing techniques, and display venues as well as festivals will round out this offering.

It is important to note that while this book addresses many technical solutions to engineering and electronics, the subject area is vast and no one book could cover it all. The World Wide Web and is an outstanding place to ask questions and receive responses from large and often knowledgeable communities. An additional way to get the answer to your question is, as they say, “Google your question” with key words, and you will receive many streams of possible answers or other key words that will get you closer to a solution.

This book can serve as a text for two consecutive quarters or semesters with extra readings and assignments. The text could also work well as a dense quarter or normal semester course, with less conceptual readings assigned. If a project is pursued in the span of the course then it may be wise to reduce the theoretical readings, which may add context to the subject areas but also limit hands on practices that are central to learning electronics.

These outside reading and research sources are referenced to add context to the area of art and invention and address important conceptual themes outside the scope of this book.