tlFix

Setup

The work consist out of 5 repurposed TL fixtures of approximately 1.4m high (1.7m including the stand). The fixtures are of industrial grade and are German made. They’re found in a local second hand hardware store.
The TL fixtures keep their visual appearance but they’re modified on the inside to fit a new function.

New functions

The new function of the fixtures can be described as: a wireless controllable light-instrument, capable of dynamically changing it’s light emission on pixel basis.
To suit this new function custom electronics have been developed by the artist.
A custom motherboard and custom ledstrip have been designed and developed.
The original electronics are removed and disposed of properly.

Render of a single fixture, all LEDs full white.
Art Installation

The objects are monolithic in their appearance and of human height. By using a familiar object there’s a contextual starting point.

The fixtures communicate with our senses via light (as expected from a light fixture). The installation also consists out of a speaker system. Making it all together an audiovisual art installation.
The complete set of light-objects can be seen as a disintegrated screen, consisting of spaced columns of pixels (imagine you put multiple vertical pieces of black duct tape on most part of the screen you’re reading this on).
Due to the vertical viewing space it reminds of a slit used in light experiments (and quantum mechanics).

Conceptually it also plays with the resemblance of a slit screen. The lights are forming one image the viewer can distill (imagining the output back to the input). So the viewer can imagine more information than there’s presented via the beams. Sort of Reading between the lines.

When working with digital media it is often a challenge to get away from the computer and screen (perhaps the most used interface method of a computer). Partly for this reason this installation is created, as a new interface between human perception and digital data. The data can be seen as a composition (as it is composed), resulting in both sound and light.
The driving data is mostly based on math and numeric transformations, a fundamental concept of music.

The installation shows multiple states that explore both the capabilities of the system as the perception of the viewer.

Composition and appearance

The sound moves between soundscape and music, mostly having an electronic sound (noise, clicks, percussion, synthesizers, samples of machinery, etc).
These sounds are initiated by a live system, that generates a score on the fly.
The events from this score are mostly apparent in both sound and light simultaneously.
The output isn’t always rhythmic or repeating, it can also be random or chaotic.

Process

A main driver for this artwork is the artistic and technical exploration.
The goal is always to design new interfaces that are customizable, scalable and modular.
The wireless control isn’t a necessity for this work, but by creating it this way it can be used in a later stadium or version (outdoors with battery-packs for example). Or the wireless system can be used to capture data emitted by smartphones to drive the systems activity.

The artistic exploration happens after the development of the hardware and software. What shapes can be created with this new canvas? How does it feel when we shift time synchronization of the light and sound? Or what happens when we link frequency with brightness in a non-linear manner? Questions to figure out and to play with.

ESP32 PCB by Jildert Viet
ESP32 based motherboard
ESP32 PCB KiCad view by Jildert Viet
3D printed caps to hold the LED diffuser in place
Panelized addressable 16-bit LED strip
Test sequence 🎧, rendered @ 60 fps
Early test

alignedBeams

An installation that shows multiple vertically aligned beams that emit beams of light.
The visual slowly moves and changes based on perspective and time.
Premiered @ Freaky Dancing, WAS-ruimte Utrecht, 10-2022.
Version 2 (w/ audio) was shown @ Stukafest Utrecht, 16-02-2023.

📷 Susan Verdouw @susanverdouw
📷 Susan Verdouw @susanverdouw
📷 Birgit Bijl @bybirgitbijl
@ The Future Is Now, Staddschouwburg Utrecht 07-2024

C++ onset detection

Early experiments with SuperCollider uGen development in C++.

The video below shows the use of a custom onset-detector. The onsets (beats) in the music activate some triggers in the visuals software (written in C++/openFrameworks).

Use keys R and S and the mouse on the horizontal axis

Tracing

A video installation referring to the parallel between real and digital transport.

Made for GS1, a not-to-profit organization known for their work on the barcode (!), France, 2020-2021.

Relation to GS1

Traceability

The traceability solutions of GS1 are translated into the work by making use of copper-traces. These copper-traces are usually part of an electronic circuit in a printed circuit board (PCB). The traceability-aspect is quite literally present in the work.

Transparency

The installation makes use of the transparent properties of the materials. The PCBs are very thin and light is able to shine through them. The LCD-screen uses pixels to block light at certain areas.

Circular, collaborative economy

The generated traces are used for showing forms of traffic / transportation, which looks similar to traderoutes. It’s mimicking transport from countryside to a city, and visa versa, or in a circular pattern.

New technology

The theme technology is very visible in the material by using a designated technical material.

The composition and visuals of the artwork are generative, meaning that it’s all algorithmically generated.

About the material: printed circuit boards

PCBs are made of a glass fiber reinforced epoxy resin with copper traces running through it. These traces are normally used for transmitting electrons which are mainly used as signals for computers. Most common are two-sided PCBs, with traces on the top and the bottom.
The traces are only visible from one side, but by lighting the back of the PCB the traces on the other side will also become visible.

On the top of the PCB there are tin pads and holes, used to place components (resistors, capacitors, transistors, etc) upon or through.
Besides the tin layer there’s a white print (silkscreen), to indicate the position of the components and other information.

All these layers will be used for the canvas of Tracing.

Design process

Intro: setup

The installation will consist of a PCB layer in front of an 49″ LCD screen. By lighting pixels on the screen, specific areas of the PCB-layer will be lit / shown. Therefore the visuals on the PCB-layer and the screen will correspond strongly (and are almost identical).

Geography

The final piece should show a reference to geography, to emphasize the relation between (global) transport and logistics. I want to generate a land/sea-like pattern. When researching this I found the wonderful Diamond Square algorithm. This starts with four points and interpolates new points between them. This recursive process is repeated a number of times.

This algorithm creates a 3D structure, but I need something two-dimensional. In the 3D-model I place a black flat surface that acts like a water level. I let the program adjust the water level repeatedly until the water/land-ratio is similar to earth.

The 3D structure is rendered to a 2D drawing by checking the z-position of each point, is it above or below the water level? If it is above water, it draws a white pixel.

Using organic input

I want to have a direct reference to a natural process.

Therefore I use a photo of the Wadden-sea (The Netherlands, photo by Timo Visser).

The picture shows some unique structures and colours.

At first I try to translate the picture to simple data that refers to certain spots of constant color.

The derived data is a bit too spaced, since I want to use it for placing cities and hubs. Therefore I try another approach: translating the image to a quad-tree image.

This means that the image is analyzed on color. Sections of pixels are grouped based upon their corresponding color. This resulted in the following images.

The quad-tree image combined with the map looks like this:

Sea appearence

For the visual appearence of the sea I’ve used a squaremarching algorithm, with Perlin Noise as an input.

The two combined:

PCB design software

To translate this design to a PCB I’ve use the open-source software KiCad. This is a fully featured program to design functional PCB’s. My goal here is to use it as an artistic medium.

I’ve chosen KiCad since it’s open-source and has a scripting capability. This means I can write my design in code.

So translating the design above is quite straightforward. A filled rectangle would be created like this (C++ to generate a Python file):

string line = "";
line += "p = pcbnew.DRAWSEGMENT()\n";
line += "p.SetLayer(layertable['"+layerNames[layerID]+"'])\n";
line += "p.SetShape(pcbnew.S_POLYGON)\n";
line += "points = pcbnew.wxPoint_Vector()\n";
for(char i=0; i<5; i++){
    line += "points.push_back(pcbnew.wxPoint(pcbnew.FromMM("+ofToString(pixelToMm(coords[i][0]))+"), pcbnew.FromMM("+ofToString(pixelToMm(coords[i][1]))+")))\n";
}
line += "p.SetPolyPoints(points)\n";
line += "p.SetWidth(int(pcbnew.FromMM(0.00127)))\n";
line += "board.Add(p)\n";

The full KiCad python API can be found here.

Connections / traces

The blocks on the map reflects hubs, cities or likewise entities. My final goal is to visualize traffic between these places. Therefore I have to create some connections. Almost all entities are connected via each other.

To give these lines an actual PCB-like visual appearance I’ve used freeroute. That’s software that generates traces on actual PCB designs. It connects all the straight lines in the image above with typical 45-degree-angled lines.

Each rectangle has its own look: number of holes, lines and accents. The width of the traces is matched by the size of one pixel.

Manufacturing

Tiling

The PCB layer won’t be one solid 66x112cm piece. It isn’t possible to get a 0.6mm PCB of this size manufactured. So it will consist of multiple parts (<10x10cm). It’s also more genuine to keep the PCBs small, as they usually are of small dimensions.

The challenge is to divide the full scale design into different small PCB’s.
All lines on the PCB are checked if they’re within a certain range, like this:

This way the whole design has been divided in certain sub-sections.

A single board looks like this (Board #70, top view):

Assembly

All the seperate PCBs are arranged and then soldered together into one big PCB.

Circles / Tracing

Synthesizer

Programmable digital synthesizer based on the Teensy 4.0 microcontroller.

  • Additive and subtractive synthesis.
  • 8 voice polyphony
  • MIDI in/out via USB.
  • 24 Alps potentiometers.
  • The keyboard is from an Arturia MIDI keyboard and the key-matrix is read by the Teensy. The extra PCB for this isn’t on the pictures below
  • The MDF housing is finished with oak fineer.

Signal flow of the synthesizer

PCB layout of main board

Bimhuis Soundsystem

Improvised visuals for some of the Bimhuis Soundsystem-nights @ Bimhuis, Amsterdam in 2018-2019. Curated by resident Radikal Rupert. Below are some stills of the visuals and posters.

Batobe liveshow

Batobe is an electronic music act, with a custom audiovisual liveshow. Batobe performed behind a translucent screen with live generated visuals.

  • Bas van Bemmelen
  • Laura Tuk
  • Jildert Viet

Selection of liveshows:

  • Down The Rabbit Hole
  • Eurosonic Noorderslag
  • Paaspop
  • Grasnapolsky
  • Tweetakt
  • Popronde
  • Bevrijdingsfestival Utrecht
Unreleased song
Setup

Artwork for Mirror, a still from the live visuals ⬆

Ab Major videoclip

Musicvideo for Ab Major by pianist Matteo Myderwyk. The video shows explorations in space by line segments. The video is generated by custom software.

Pse_0

Pse_0 is an experiment with a particle system consisting of four million individual particles.
The system reacts to an unseen force-entity, showing unique results based upon the generated characteristic of the system.
The work is exported into a short video with soundtrack and a few stills, as seen below.
This work has been featured on Le Guess Who? 2019 online edition.
This work has been exhibited by Artpoint 🇫🇷.