behemoth

The Behemoth

Date: summer 2014
Categories: engineering, programming, robotics, bookmaking, mixed media, illustration
Materials: Arduino, servos, Processing, conductive ink, assorted electronics, assorted parts

Ariel Cotton Physical Computing The Behemoth Conductive Ink Book Electronics

The Behemoth is my most recent conductive ink book. True to its name, it is a behemoth of mixed media and electronics. The book contains conductive ink text and illustrations that make music when they are touched, RGB LED maps, robotic doll heads, and a music box.

Ariel Cotton Physical Computing The Behemoth Conductive Ink Book Electronics

Since physical computing is a new medium, the standards for good user experience are more ambiguous than they are in media such as industrial design or web design. My physical computing projects require lots of experimentation and testing in order to design an optimal user experience. One of the largest challenges is indicating to a user when and how to interact with a specific object. Sometimes I’ll use textual cues, such as on the intro page for this book.

Ariel Cotton Physical Computing The Behemoth Conductive Ink Book Electronics

The text and images reflect the topics I would muse on most frequently at the time: traveling, jobs, what I wanted out of life, the travails of supporting oneself as an artist, education, rising tuition costs, the uncertainty that frequently accompanies navigating one’s early 20s. I had just graduated from Cooper Union a year prior to making this book, and in addition to all the typical concerns of a recent college graduate, I was also preoccupied by the tuition crisis taking place at the time.

Ariel Cotton Physical Computing The Behemoth Conductive Ink Book ElectronicsAriel Cotton Physical Computing The Behemoth Conductive Ink Book Electronics

I designed each page in Adobe Illustrator and ported it to a laser cutter. I then took each laser-cut page and pasted it over a separate page that had been painted over with conductive ink.

Ariel Cotton Physical Computing The Behemoth Conductive Ink Book Electronics

I included elements of surprise in the book wherever I could. On one page, a pair of doll heads attached to servos pop up and move up and down as soon as the user opens to that page.

Ariel Cotton Physical Computing The Behemoth Conductive Ink Book Electronics

The page detection method I used relies on light sensors. I embedded one in each page, and wrote an algorithm to activate each page only when the value produced by the sensor passes a specific threshold. Every page is connected to an Arduino Micro in the back of the book.

Ariel Cotton Physical Computing The Behemoth Conductive Ink Book Electronics

This book has been featured in several exhibits, including Maker Faire New York 2014, the NYCResistor 2015 Interactive Show and my solo exhibit Gonna Put a Hacks on You. It has received press from Technically Brooklyn and The Brooklyn Paper.

Ariel Cotton Physical Computing The Behemoth Conductive Ink Book Electronics

Video coming soon!



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