Ghost in the Machine

Standing in a deep haze, full of reflections of the past, this feeling just won’t go away.

Driven by a force stronger than all of us, events just seem to unfold.

Whether we like it or not, Time stops for no-one. And, eventually, overwhelms everything.

But we may choose. Choose to stand up and influence Time’s course.

Stretching 3 meters tall, Ghost in the Machine is a monumental kinetic sculpture.

Massive cylinders dance slowly to a soundscape assembled from mechanical noise and recordings of the deeply transformative 1989 Czechoslovak velvet revolution.

Clacking gears and shouting protesters join together, forming a never-ending chorus.

I helped this piece in two key areas – motor control and show programming.

Controlling the speed and direction of each cylinder in real-time was achieved by pairing each stepper motor driver with a dedicated microcontroller. All of these were in turn connected to a PC running Schéma, Tilda and vvvv beta.

Schéma functioned as a visualising and behavior authoring tool, reacting to timed parameters coming from Tilda; custom vvvv beta patches bridged communications and filled in feature gaps.

Geek Board

techy trivia
  • The cylinders moved using stepper motors with a 1:50 worm gear transmission
  • USB controlled ESP8266 microcontrollers generated pulses for the drivers
  • Tilda (VL) was used as the timeline solution
  • The object reached 3 meters in height

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