Heart – An Interactive Arduino Art Object

Written by Ekaterina Danilova

Editor’s Note: Heart is an interactive arduino art object designed by Ekaterina Danilova. In this exclusive article, the new age multimedia artist describes the entire process of creating a throbbing life-like object.

Heart is an interactive music object which reacts on hands moving near it. Chords are programmed in the musical matrix and grouped harmonically. Heart ‘captures’ the feeling and the mood of one track but gives an opportunity to compose it in real time. When hands are moving too fast heart screams with different dissonant sounds.

I first came up with the idea of theremin–like musical instrument around the time I entered the Academy (National Academy of Art, Sofia). The next association was a Flёur–band’s self–definition of their musical genre − they call themselves ‘cardiowave’.

Mindmap of Heart

So I drew this mindmap with all the elements which I wanted to see in this project. I chose felt as a material because I always wanted to try it. Heart was my first felting experience and surely it contained a lot of authentic artist’s blood, I constantly did hurt myself with needles while making it.

At first, I wanted to use the object for interactive installation but the interaction with this kind of sensors was surprisingly complicated. It took me some time to learn how to play it so I decided to use it only for performances.

The next thing I discovered after first performance was that the heart doesn’t like big stages, it’s twice bigger than the real human heart, but still looks tiny if the public is too far away!

During the performance of the Student’s fest, I learned a lot about the drawbacks, the concert hall itself was unsuitable and an independent sound system would have definitely improved the routine.

Maybe, musicians liked this project the most, and I got responses even from my friends’ friends, involved in music!

If there is a lot of space, a beamer for a parallel bigger projection will make it possible for audiences sitting at a distance to appreciate the ‘Heart’, since the distance may make it indistinguishable and then the essence of the performance will be lost to them.

Heart generates very thin aura which is unseen in large open space. The best option is a small room with the lights turned off. It could be used as a part of intro or outro at some concerts with the bigger projection of it.

And I am still dreaming of a jam session at some proper place with acoustic instruments, heart and heart-alike things.

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