Report on CourtCircuitCourt

Last summer I went to Nantes to CourtCircuitCourt:

From 23 July 10:00 to 28 July 18:00
Court Circuit Court – Short Circuit / Short Process
PiNG 38 rue du Breil – 44100 Nantes – France

What links a digital hacker who designs projects in a lab, a member of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) who believes in sustainable local produce and supports a farmer, and citizens who share experience and knowledge online? Perhaps it is the desire to redefine the relationship between production and consumption, the need to be an empowered citizen rather than passive consumer. To create, grow, reconfigure and question – to ‘hack’ society and transform it.

Short Circuit / Short Process is the first edition of PiNG’s Summer Lab. A 6 day-workshop where hackers, open source geeks and DIY (Do It Yourself) advocates come together with community activists to collaborate, co-create and co-produce through workshops, experiments, discussions and performance.

Court Circuit Court: Social fabrics: on protocols, textile and salutations.

Constant member Wendy Van Wynsberghe hosts an atelier on salutations and greeting rituals. Make textile sensors that initiate new ways of greeting each other with Arduino, sound and conductive thread.

This meeting is supported by the Grundtvig’s Life Long Learning Program:…

summerlab2012 —> from asso PiNG on Vimeo.

This is a small ensemble of links, pictures and a lot more..
The nice thing about Ping! is their care for documentation – so basically my work here is very limited!

Ping’s list of press articles, linked blogposts, radio interviews etc
A post on the Summerlab and a small contextualisation in French
A fun fanzine was made during the Summerlab
Ping’s pictures
Constant’s pictures
List of participants
The pictures of the participants
The impressive wiki where all resources were posted
– Some links on networks and security – many more on the Wiki and pads

– Group Picture!

– A detail image of my workshop

– The Kissing Protocol – Nantes version

– Post-event: a small questionnaire

Thanks everyone – it’s one of these events that resonate some months after!

(We made a Pirate Box!! Thanks Labomedia!!)

This meeting is supported by the Grundtvig’s Life Long Learning Program

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Ultrasonic City

For the last three months I have been working on urban audio environments, called “Ultrasonic City”. The first public shape this took on was in the form of an interactive installation. Here’s a short description:

“What do you hear in the city? What sounds are only perceptible in the ultrasonic realm, where bats and crickets communicate? Sounds which are so high, our human ears cannot perceive them. This acoustic world becomes audible and it slowly fades into the more familiar sounds of the city.”

The urban sound world is quite dense. By extracting the ultrasound I wanted to reveal a sonic universe or even add another layer to the field recordings. When you hear only the ultrasonic layer of the city, you hear a place devoid of human voices. They simply do not reach that high. Some very quiet sounds get enhanced, such as rubbing your fingers together, frottements in French. In a parc at sunset you hear the foraging bats, whilst at the same time, our human ears only register ducks, planes and other humans. A swimming pool gets reduced to splashes, you do not hear the children shriek nor play. Plastic, metal, water all produce ultasounds.
With the help of ACSR, I was able to record the same place in the city ultrasonically and with high quality “normal” microphones. This revealing/unravelling/hiding of layers of sound I want to present in this installation.

The interaction happens on the moment you trigger the sound by touching the embroidery. The hand embroidered images visually represent the places in the city you are listening too. The embroidery was designed and mostly made by Dennis Marien.
Here are some images of the embroidery. All areas delineated by fluorescent yellow are active zones, so are all punched with grey loopy conductive yarn.

This started out as a solo project, I started from the sound and was thinking about how to represent the sound “spaces” in simplified embroidered images. By coincidence I met Dennis, a comic artist who realised a beautiful small graphic novel where all drawings were hand sewn. Dennis’s enthusiasm was contageous and I let him freewheel on the imagery. Go with the flow.
We all embroidered (Dennis, his mum, my partner and me) – this is a very slow and labour intensive way of illustrating. The electronics and sound part ended up on my plate.

Here is a video of the installation in it’s current form. You can play it with Firefox or another html5 compatible browser or with VLC.

It’s a bit strange to make a video of an installation – we had to do it in one take, in half an hour, with no external microphone.

Video of the installation made by a regular camera
Video of the installation made by smartphone

This summer I will delve deeper into the audio part, in the studio running Ardour in ACSR. I will try to make a radiophonic narrative with this material.
Thanks C & V & C!

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Domestic Science Club @ INVITRO – Thursday 31/5/2012 from 19h

Domestic Science Club welcomes you Thursday 31/5/2012 at Recyclart/INVITRO.

20:30h Wendy Van Wynsberghe – The Kissing Protocol
Wendy Van Wynsberghe will demonstrate some greeting protocols, re-enacted by the public. How can a group greet each other? Can we make new future greetings? By means of current, conductive textile, threads and sensors, cheeks will be dressed up, and make contact.

21: 30h David Elchardus and Gosie Vervloessem – Gravity
David and Gosie will try to fly to the moon and back, with the help of a little black hole.

Ongoing : Marthe Van Dessel, the one and only DJette, will cycle around
with her boom box bike
A boom box bike is a bicycle ghettoblaster to play recorded music in public space. This one has an extra effect: speed of the music is set by the speed of biking. Sound documentaries and promotional melodies will linger in the Marolles air.

Domestic Science Workshop is open during the event. We organize a miniature sandbag throwing lowland game.

Hope to see you there.
Wendy, Naomi, Marthe and Gosie

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Interpunctie & Talking posters

As many other human beings who once apon a time were present in the bolwerK realm, I received an invitation to come to Kasterlee, to the Frans Masereelcentrum. The object was clear: work with the bolwerK archive. The form, size, way in which to deal with this archive was open. As Masereel is the place to print (silk screen, letterpress and lots of other stuff I don’t even know the name of), I decided that the way of dealing with the archive should be through print, a topic I know nothing about.
I do feel comfortable around electronics and physical computing. So I started thinking about a meeting point between these two with the *archive archive archive* mantra repeating in the back of my head.
So, after some thinking I stumbled upon the existence of conductive paint.
And I ordered a jar.

And then what…

Posters as interfaces!
Talking posters, playing soundfiles related to the bolwerK archive!
Capacitive interactive posters, playing soundfiles related to the bolwerK archive!

I had cracked it.
The idea was there.
In my head.
In Kasterlee it was the challenge to see whether the reality in my head could/would correspond with the physical realm, including one microcontroller (Arduino), a waveshield for playing sound, some resistors, paper, conductive thread and somebody who masters screenprinting. And the code for the Arduino. And the soundfiles. Hmm. Not there yet…

With the added sauce of stress concerning a misplaced laptop power supply (mine), I managed to get the painted prototype (not silkscreened) working, it gave me data, numbers in the serial port as you can see on the pictures.


I was very lucky that Bare Conductive had just put up a manual on working with the paint entitled: “Building a Capacitive Proximity Sensor using Bare Paint”. Translated for non-techies this means that when you hover your hand over the conductive surface, something can happen.

Then came these serious tasks: make an image for the silkscreen installation, screenprint it, sew a conductive thread in the conductive printed surface, make the capacitive sensor work with sound. Then, multiply the amount of posters by three…

I chose two images for the posters: a hand and a circle. A hand because this part of the body is quite central in the bolwerK projects I was involved with (handshakes, greetings, excercises for hand and wrist…). The hand is like a shadow stuck to the paper. The image of a circle has multiple meanings: a circle can be a “bol” in Dutch, a circle can be a full stop (part of interpunction), as it is very black it could even be a black hole, a gateway to another universe, a vortex in which the archive may be evaporated or redefined…

From this part of the text onwards, I will guide you to through some images.

The hand has been cut out in a red foil, because everything which is red will become the positive image when you screenprint.

The Wikipedia page on silkscreen & screenprinting has some great animated gifs:

Making the screen

Screen machinery (and Lieven and Wauter)

The screen is ready for printing

A close-up

Screenprinting – the movie

If the player does not work, click here.

The result: a hand and a sphere silkscreened with conductive paint, three layers on top of each other

A close-up of the conductive thread in the poster. I had to add conductive paint by hand with a paintbrush, in between printing the layers. Quite stressy and this requires clear instructions by the screenprinter and the “retouche” person.

The backside of the poster, showing the conductive thread

Another close-up of the conductive thread in the poster: the black conductive surface needs to be as smooth as possible. The ink quickly logs up the pores of the screen. It’s quite hard to make nice surfaces…

A colourful intervention in the poster by bolwerK: a cursor

Asking two nice graphic designers advice on how you place an image in a poster (the cursor). Apparently, it’s all about ratio’s.

Finalizing, hooking up electronics to the posters

The posters, ready and waiting for some electronic input

It works! The code needs some tweeking by e-mail afterwards.

When you hover your hand above one of the dots or the hand, a sound or a story will be played. I chose:
– An audio rendition of “Stops, or How To Punctuate” by Paul Allardyce (1855-1895), the part on the Full Stop. (Thanks F)
– A sound work by an invited artist, made in Kasterlee.
– And a Hello from Vorst, Brussels.


As you can see, the posters are connected with a cable to an Arduino and a waveshield. The waveshield is connected to a speaker.
Here is the final Arduino code. It is a Frankenscript of the code for capacitive sensors and the code for the djette (a bolwerK project). You need the waveshield library (AF_Wave) and the capacitive sensor library (CapSense).

Interpunctie03-111025a Arduino Code Zip

#include "util.h"
#include "wave.h"
CapSense cs_9_7 = CapSense(9,7); // 10 megohm resistor between pins 4 & 2, pin 2 is sensor pin, add Bare Paint
CapSense cs_9_6 = CapSense(9,6); // OPTIONAL: for sensor 2, 10 megohm resistor between pins 9 & 6, pin 6 is sensor pin, add Bare Paint
CapSense cs_9_8 = CapSense(9,8); // OPTIONAL: for sensor 3, 10 megohm resistor between pins 9 & 8, pin 8 is sensor pin, add Bare Paint

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// WAVESTUFF

AF_Wave card;
File f;

Wavefile wave; // only one!
uint32_t wavsamplerate = 22050;

char * wavname; // filename WAV file
uint8_t tracknum = 0;

void settrack(uint8_t num){
switch (num){
case 0:
wavname = “SOUND1.WAV”;
/* case 1:
wavname = “TRACK1.WAV”;
case 2:
wavname = “TRACK2.WAV”;
case 3:
wavname = “TRACK3.WAV”;
case 4:
wavname = “TRACK4.WAV”;
case 5:
wavname = “TRACK5.WAV”;
case 6:
wavname = “TRACK6.WAV”;
case 7:
wavname = “TRACK7.WAV”;
case 8:
wavname = “TRACK8.WAV”;
case 9:
wavname = “TRACK9.WAV”;
case 10:
wavname = “TRACK10.WAV”;
case 11:
wavname = “TRACK11.WAV”;
case 12:
wavname = “TRACK12.WAV”;
case 13:
wavname = “TRACK13.WAV”;
case 14:
wavname = “TRACK14.WAV”;
case 15:
wavname = “TRACK15.WAV”;
case 16:
wavname = “TRACK16.WAV”;
case 17:
wavname = “TRACK17.WAV”;
case 18:
wavname = “TRACK18.WAV”;
case 19:
wavname = “TRACK19.WAV”;
case 20:
wavname = “TRACK20.WAV”;
case 21:
wavname = “TRACK21.WAV”;
case 22:
wavname = “TRACK22.WAV”;
case 23:
wavname = “TRACK23.WAV”;
break; */

void ls() {
char fname[13];
int ret;

while (1) {
ret = card.get_next_name_in_dir(fname);
if (!ret) {

bool active_file = false;

void playfile(char *name) {

while (wave.isplaying) {


if(active_file) {
Serial.println(“closing previous file”);


f = card.open_file(name);
Serial.print(“opening new file “);

if (!f) {
putstring_nl(” Couldn’t open file”);

active_file = true;

if (!wave.create(f)) {
putstring_nl(” Not a valid WAV”);
// ok time to play!;

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// SETUP

void setup() {
cs_9_7.set_CS_AutocaL_Millis(0xFFFFFFFF); // turn off autocalibrate on channel 1 – just as an example
Serial.begin(9600); // set up Serial library at 9600 bps
Serial.println(“Talky Poster!”);

// Set the output pins for the DAC control. This pins are defined in the library
pinMode(2, OUTPUT);
pinMode(3, OUTPUT);
pinMode(4, OUTPUT);
pinMode(5, OUTPUT);

if (!card.init_card()) {
putstring_nl(“Card init. failed!”);
if (!card.open_partition()) {
putstring_nl(“No partition!”);
if (!card.open_filesys()) {
putstring_nl(“Couldn’t open filesys”);

if (!card.open_rootdir()) {
putstring_nl(“Couldn’t open dir”);
pinMode(buttons[B_REED_SWITCH], INPUT); // reed switch
pinMode(buttons[B_NEXT], INPUT); // button next
pinMode(buttons[B_NORMAL], INPUT); // button normal

TCCR2A = 0;
TCCR2B = 1<

//Timer2 Overflow Interrupt Enable
TIMSK2 |= 1< */




/*void check_switches()
static byte previousstate[NUMBUTTONS];
static byte currentstate[NUMBUTTONS];
byte index;

for (index = 0; index < NUMBUTTONS; index++) { currentstate[index] = digitalRead(buttons[index]); // read the button if (currentstate[index] == previousstate[index]) { if ((pressed[index] == LOW) && (currentstate[index] == LOW)) { // just pressed justpressed[index] = 1; } else if ((pressed[index] == HIGH) && (currentstate[index] == HIGH)) { // just released justreleased[index] = 1; } pressed[index] = !currentstate[index]; // remember, digital HIGH means NOT pressed } //Serial.println(pressed[index], DEC); previousstate[index] = currentstate[index]; // keep a running tally of the buttons } } bool normal_mode = false; float avgSpeed = 0.0f; float curSpeed = 0.0f; unsigned long curTime, prevTime;*/ /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// LOOP //boolean samplerate_changed = false; uint32_t lastReedRead = 0; void loop() { char c; long start = millis(); long total1 = cs_9_7.capSense(30); long total2 = cs_9_6.capSense(30); // OPTIONAL for sensor 2 long total3 = cs_9_8.capSense(30); // OPTIONAL for sensor 3 // Serial.print(millis() – start); // OPTIONAL: check on performance in milliseconds Serial.print(“t”); // OPTIONAL: tab character for debug windown spacing Serial.println(total1); // OPTIONAL: To use additional sensors,change Serial.println to Serial.print for proper window spacing Serial.print(“t2”); // OPTIONAL: tab character for window spacing for sensor output 2 Serial.print(total2); // OPTIONAL: print sensor output 2 Serial.print(“t3”); // OPTIONAL: tab character character for sensor output 3 Serial.println(total3); // print sensor output 3 if (total1>350) {
//if (!wave.isplaying) {

if (total2>130) {
//if (!wave.isplaying) {

if (total3>130) {
//if (!wave.isplaying) {


/* check_switches();

if(pressed[B_NEXT] && pressed[B_NORMAL]) {


Serial.println(“two buttons pushed”);

else if( justpressed[B_NEXT] ) {
Serial.println(“B_NEXT pushed”);


else if( justpressed[B_NORMAL] ) {
Serial.println(“B_NORMAL pushed”);

normal_mode =!normal_mode;
if(normal_mode) {
Serial.print(“playing a fixed bitrate”);
else {
Serial.print(“playing a dynamic bitrate”);

justpressed[B_REED_SWITCH] = 0;

prevTime = curTime;
curTime = millis();

lastReedRead = curTime;

curSpeed = float(curTime – prevTime);

// cumulative average
const float alpha = 0.5f;
avgSpeed = avgSpeed * (1.0f – alpha) + curSpeed * alpha;

Serial.print(“curSpeed: “);
Serial.print(” avgSpeed: “);

// TIMING constantes
const float x1 = 1000.0f; // slow sensor timing
const float x2 = 150.0f; // fast sensor timing

const float y1 = 5000.0f;
const float y2 = 25000.0f;

const float m = (y2-y1) / (x2-x1);

float fsamplerate = (avgSpeed * m ) – m * x1 + y1;
if (fsamplerate > 0.0f) wavsamplerate = fsamplerate;
wavsamplerate = 0.0;

samplerate_changed = true;

Serial.print(“fsamplerate: “);
Serial.print(” wavsamplerate: “);

if (millis() – lastReedRead > 700) {
if(wavsamplerate>100) wavsamplerate -= 100;
samplerate_changed = true;
// lastReedRead = millis();

if(samplerate_changed && wave.isplaying && !normal_mode) {
if (wavsamplerate>25000) wavsamplerate= 25000;
samplerate_changed = false;*/


I was lucky to get caught in the gravity pull of bolwerK. All collaborations were wonderful, crazy, sharp, complex, heavy, light at the same time. So, I guess, thanks, bolwerK! is quite appropriate.

Lieven – huge thanks for your patience with the stubborn conductive ink and putting up with the lack of time.

(slight warning, inviting artists to work on archive generates more data and bigger archive – end of warning)

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Interactive posters

I’m at the Masereelcentrum – in the framework of Interpunctie, organized by Bolwerk. These are some images of a set-up of an interactive talking poster.

The black hand has been painted with conductive paint and functions well as a capacitive sensor.

The trick now is to link this physical proximity to trigger sound. It sounds easier than it is…

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Variable Open Hardware studio is Open!

Last Friday the Constant Variable Floss Arts lab opened. The photographs are here.

In connection to that, the Open Hardware studio has started activities as well!
The idea is that you can use the modest facilities of the space to work on artistic Open Hardware projects.
Open source Hardware :

Open source hardware (OSHW) consists of physical artifacts of technology designed and offered in the same manner as free and open source software (FOSS). Open source hardware is part of the open source culture movement and applies a like concept to a variety of components. The term usually means that information about the hardware is easily discerned. Hardware design (i.e. mechanical drawings, schematics, bill of materials, PCB layout data, HDL source code and integrated circuit layout data) in addition to the software that drives the hardware are all released with the FOSS approach.

In the case of the Open Hardware studio, all kinds of simple tinkering projects with knowledge which is “out there” also come into consideration, as long as you don’t claim to have invented them :-). The studio is not big, so we will really look at proposed projects, because we share the space and resources.

Today for example we worked on all kinds of robots made with vibrating motors – the ones you find in mobile phones. We are giving a workshop next week for kids, where they will learn to make their own bots.

Click on this link to see the drawbot in action!

If you have a proposition of an activity in the Open Hardware Studio, or if you want to know more about it, send an e-mail to wendy attttt

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Knitting the weather

A small post this time.
“Lea Redmond is interested in “conceptual knitting” – knitting projects that go beyond the pattern to become a small act of performance, community outreach or experimentation. In fact, she’s just embarked on a year-long public project, and you’re invited to join in.” From Craft.

A first project is a sky scarf, where each day you look at the sky and you choose a corresponding yarn colour.

Day one. Look outside. Decide on an average sky colour of the day. Knit.
Day two. Repeat script. {void () loop}

Don’t get too depressed by the skies from the low countries..

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Reports Reports – number one – ADA, a day about sound in ‘s Hertogenbosch

The month of May has been busy busy. Lots of challenging activities, lectures, workshops, inside, outside and even more than a million Volts somewhere along the line. For posterity’s sake, and to keep a trace of past adventures I’ll try to reconstruct these activities in some stories.

Here goes Report Number one; started in May, finished in July:

ADA, a day about sound in ‘s Hertogenbosch

Here‘s the announcement of that day on the Constant website:

Wednesday 11 May 10:00-22:00

’s Hertogenbosch Onderwijsboulevard 256 5223 DJ ‘s-Hertogenbosch The Netherlands

The Digitale Werkplaats together with AKV|St. Joost is organizing a day around sound & noise. Constant was invited to participate with a lecture and a workshop. We decided to make a contribution on scanning the inaudible frequencies, combining this with the manual made by julien Ottavi aka Noiser, under a GNU Free Documentation License, as a starting point. We will make antennas that transform the electromagnetic spectrum into audio, listen to work of other artists, look at free licenses in art. To end the day we will walk in ’s Hertogenbosch with our DIY antennas.

The day consisted out of four parts:

– a small lecture

– a workshop

– a walk

– a presentation of what happened that day

I’ll tackle these topics one at a time.

– a small lecture

Of course I start out the talk with who am I, what is Constant, why am I here etc.. Half a year ago the Audiovisuele werkplaats invited me to give a workshop on building an EMF antenna, because they had seen the Baltanprogramme. Now, I did not want to just give the workshop without contextualizing, and talking about the origin of the manual of the workshop.

I start out by showing some work of artists who use EMF in their artistic work, such as Christina Kubisch and Joyce Hinterding (proprietary work).

Both Hinterding and Kubisch’s work are result based – you as a spectator are not directly involved into the “how does this work?” aspect of their installations and sound walks. The technical part keeps it’s mystical layer, although Hinterding’s installations actually integrate the antenna visibly and physically in the space. Both artists – as most artists – do not integrate the reproduction/future life of their work into their practice.

As we were going to build antenna’s during the afternoon which are based on the manual Julien Ottavi wrote in 2007 in the VJ 10 book Tracks in electr(on)ic fields, we delved a little bit deeper into the topic.

A user guide or user’s guide, also commonly known as a manual, is a technical communication document intended to give assistance to people using a particular system.[1] It is usually written by a technical writer, although user guides are written by programmers, product or project managers, or other technical staff, particularly in smaller companies.

User guides are most commonly associated with electronic goods, computer hardware and software.

Most user guides contain both a written guide and the associated images. In the case of computer applications, it is usual to include screenshots of how the program should look, and hardware manuals often include clear, simplified diagrams. The language used is matched to the intended audience, with jargon kept to a minimum or explained thoroughly.

I started out with an image from Openclipart, with the keyword “manual”. In four images the body positions of hammering are shown.

For me, in the nature of a manual there are step-by-step descriptions on how to build or fix something, from code to hardware, from operating systems to making sensors detect.

Were it not by the generosity of others I could not do what I do now, make the work I make. I depend on other people’s generosity to share their ways of working, step by step, meticulously documented on wiki’s, fora and tons of other websites. Last April I had a serious technical problem – for a week I dialogued with someone on a forum on this issue and he or she found and solved the problem. With the idea in mind that other people could run into the same problem I had, I tried to document everything step by step, as clear as possible. In Free software and open hardware circles, this kind of practice is quite standard – but in a visual arts context this is not so common. This is why I wanted to highlight this way of working. So I showed a part of this process in Den Bosch.

Through these manuals I snuck the theme of licensing into my talk. In these online manuals, howto’s, quite often there is no particular license added to the content, which means that the content is automatically copyright, which in theory you cannot reproduce these manuals. I explained the Gnu Free Documention license, because the Antenna making manual has this license.


Material licensed under the current version of the license can be used for any purpose, as long as the use meets certain conditions.

* All previous authors of the work must be attributed.

* All changes to the work must be logged.

* All derivative works must be licensed under the same license.

* The full text of the license, unmodified invariant sections as defined by the author if any, and any other added warranty disclaimers (such as a general disclaimer alerting readers that the document may not be accurate for example) and copyright notices from previous versions must be maintained.

* Technical measures such as DRM may not be used to control or obstruct distribution or editing of the document.

From Julien’s Ottavi’s manual onwards (you can download a translation into English here) we had a look at the trajectory of antenna making workshops, starting with the one during Verbindingen Jonctions 10.
Here’s the video of that walk and the photo gallery.

From Brussels to Gent: Summercamp electrified in Timelab
The different physical forms of self-made antenna’s:
Pierre-Laurent Cassière EMF bracelet

Tim Knapen’s tube

Kasper Koenig: EMF in a hat

Frederik’s De Wilde’s antenna


His antenna churned out visualisations and other adventures.

From Gent to Eindhoven: a workshop in Baltan. Making antenna’s with Julien Ottavi and artist/participants.

Even with the same ingredients, copper wire, making a coil, linking it to an amplifier – the antenna’s themselves turn out very differently.


The report of Baltan on the workshop.Here’s the gallery of the whole workshop.

– a workshop

After all these inspiring images of antenna’s, the Ada workshop participants started out to make their own version. I have no  pictures of the workshop itself – as I was too busy following what everyone is doing.

Post workshop: Here are two versions of the antenna:

A bracelet antenna

A (shht Belgian) beer bottle antenna (which worked really well)

– a walk and a talk

After the workshop we went out into ‘s Hertogenbosch to scan the city. Our mobile buzzing orchestra did attract quite some attention, but even walking through the Court (justice department) and the train station just gave us some curious glances – and a few questions – but nothing more.

Here’s and audiovisual account – something I repeated in the evening part of the day. None of the recordings were edited.

Next to the woodwork shop where we built the antenna’s, there is the parking lot. We started out by having a little feedback concert. When the antenna’s are close to the amplifier/speaker, they give out a loud a squeek of feedback. In my imagination it sounds like a group of loud sea lion males :-).
If the player does not work, click here.

On our walk, we met a group of 65+ ladies, with camera’s and big lenses. We asked on of them if we could sniff out the focus of her lens with our antenna. This is what it sounds like:
(other version).

Parallel to that we did some experiments with our own camera’s, listening to the zoom and flash.

(other version).

Everywhere in the Den Bosch train station there are yellow poles, with Rfid readers on them. Each time you get out of the train, you not only check yourself in, but also out. More data about the travellers.

There seemingly quiet poles are actually EMF-wise quite loud. They send out a continuous electrical pulse in order to power the potential card passing by, enabling it to get the unique number on the card (the card needs a little bit of power to give out it’s number).
(other version).

This video is our walk in the station.

(other version).

One of the participants met a friend in the train station. We all demonstrated our circular instruments and started playing with the antenna’s and her mobile phone.
(other version).

Parking meters with their whirring ad whizzing small electrical engines create quite a nuanced spectre of EMF. So when we saw a man going towards the parking meters, we asked him if we could records the payment. The friendly mustached car driver happily complied.
(other version).

The crossing for blind people emits some EMF too. It was however a very long wait because the traffic lights were very slow. Five unedited takes later:::

(other version).

One particular street was very hummy, so we started to change the usage of our antenna’s and dragged them over the street, to create a EMF contact microphone…

(other version).

This same street was full of the 50 Hertz buzz, the sound of 220 Volt running under the pavement, cables everywhere, going to the houses, shops and further into ‘s Hertogenbosch.

(other version).

At the end of our walk, we truly became an improvisation orchestra, listening to each other’s buzzes and hums. Playing with distance, interacting and playing the EMF Rhythms produced by the city. Listen to the audio first, best with a headphone – to see afterwards what we were playing with.

(other version).


(other version).


If you have trouble listening to the sound or watching the video’s: they can all be downloaded here and watched/listened to with VLC.

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On taking notes and the act of writing something down

When I was a student, it was in the pre-laptop era, taking notes was a valuable action. The better your notes, the better your end results and examinations. You were highly trained, very fast, listening and writing at the same time. I was very particular about my pens, they had to slide over the paper rapidly, no screeching. The paper was important too: my whole academic cycle has been penned down on recycled fair trade paper with elongated rectangles printed on them.
Hence a bit more than 10 years later, taking notes is something I’m trying to reintegrate in what I do. For this, I have my particulars again, trackball pens and squared paper and the digital. The paper notebook can be put in my pocket.

The digital realm is quite complicated: do you take notes in a wiki (I get hopelessly lost in them), do you have a scribble pad somewhere (based for example on now terminated etherpad), do you choose a proprietary system such as google docs and more of the likely? Do you publicize everything you note down or do you keep stuff private – and how?
I chose free software only, use Open Atrium (quite a struggle to install) to try and stay organized, this blog (WordPress), and a timid attempt at microblogging on
The biggest issue is the private public part. In order for me to try to be as clear as possible as to why I want to preserve a certain piece of information, a link, an image, writing in public such as this post kind of forces me to stay clear. On the other hand, certainly not everything wants to be publicized. And this is where it is somewhat hard. Do you keep certain items in Draft status? Do you go for the other platform? A paper notebook? A digital scribble place – and how do you keep this linked, see the bigger picture, draw the mosaic of your thoughts and notes?

These thoughts about taking notes got triggered by several issues this week. One of the triggers is a book: Field Notes on Science & Nature, Edited by Michael R. Canfield.

This lovely book review captures the gist of the book.
The book and review start out with a similar question to the one in this post:

Why are scientists’ field notebooks so valuable? And do notes really matter anymore, with global positioning systems, laptops and digital cameras available to document information traditionally recorded through sketches and barely legible scrawl?

The scientist notebook is the main thread – but the narrative on taking notes goes beyond that.

“The one thing I can confidently say about all this scribbling and note-taking,” Mr. Heinrich writes, “is that if it wasn’t written down, it didn’t happen, and the more I wrote the more that did happen, because this process stirs up ideas.”

Another matter I have briefly touched upon is “order”, structure – or the lack of it.

One central concern of “Field Notes” is how to go about the journal-keeping. Do you toss everything in, creating chaos, or do you adopt a rigid system that allows for easy interpretation but risks excluding something important? The consensus leans toward chaos. “Record everything you can, while you can, in as many different ways as you can,” says anthropologist Karen L. Kramer, because items that seem incidental at first have a habit of becoming important later. Even Darwin had scrawled on the back of his Red Notebook, in which he first began to outline his evolutionary theory: “Nothing for any Purpose.”

What if the personal is reduced to a minimum – trying to ban feelings from these science stories.

A few writers bravely defend the more systematic forms of notebook-keeping that leave no room for personal observations, musings, hypotheses or sketches. Spreadsheets and other computerized forms of note-taking also have their advocates. Entomologist Piotr Naskrecki says that the laptop and thumb-size memory drive saved his career from hopeless disorganization, though he confesses, candidly, that they’ve cost him the “physical evidence of one’s scientific prestige—the extensive shelves of important looking volumes and journals.”

Still, concerns about the longevity of the newer media have most of these authors clinging to pen and paper, at least as a backup. What if Darwin had used floppy disks? The revelations in a journal can, and often do, go unknown or unappreciated for generations. “As someone who routinely encounters objects that can speak to us over millions of years,” writes geologist Anna K. Behrensmeyer, “I may have bias toward things that have stood the test of time.”

Sometimes I go back in time and look at what I have written on these public/personal writing places (blog & microblog). I think I mostly agree that formulating an interest stirs up ideas en generates other ones. And hopefully they can be inspiring for other people..

Verb: to stir

stir (third-person singular simple present stirs, present participle stirring, simple past and past participle stirred)

1. (transitive, dated) To change the place of in any manner; to move.

My foot I had never yet in five days been able to stir. —Sir William Temple

2. (transitive) To disturb the relative position of the particles of, as of a liquid, by passing something through it; to agitate.

She stirred the pudding with a spoon.
My mind is troubled, like a fountain stirred. —Shakespeare

3. (transitive) To agitate the content of (a container) by passing something through it.

Would you please stand here and stir this pot so that the chocolate doesn’t burn?

4. (transitive) To bring into debate; to agitate; to moot.

Stir not questions of jurisdiction. —Francis Bacon

5. (transitive) To incite to action; to arouse; to instigate; to prompt; to excite.

To stir men to devotion. —Chaucer
An Ate, stirring him to blood and strife. —Shakespeare
And for her sake some mutiny will stir. —John Dryden.

[quotations ▼]
* 1922, Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

That night he was almost too happy to sleep, and so much love stirred in his little sawdust heart that it almost burst.

6. (intransitive) To move; to change one’s position.

I had not power to stir or strive, But felt that I was still alive. —Byron.

7. (intransitive) To be in motion; to be active or bustling; to exert or busy one’s self.

All are not fit with them to stir and toil. —Byron.
The friends of the unfortunate exile, far from resenting his unjust suspicions, were stirring anxiously in his behalf. — Charles Merivale.

8. (intransitive) To become the object of notice; to be on foot.

They fancy they have a right to talk freely upon everything that stirs or appears. —Isaac Watts.

9. (intransitive, poetic) To rise, or be up, in the morning.

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Melville & annotations

I’m preparing a talk on licenses and art, for next Tuesday. In my research I stumbled on the importance of books in the life of 19th century author Herman Melville. This post is not about the books that influenced him as such, but about the annotations he made in them.

From Melville’s Marginalia:

From youth onward Melville educated himself through self-propelled reading after the bankruptcy and death of his father, Allan Melvill, Sr. (the final e was added by the family soon after he died), put formal education forever out of reach. The personal library assembled by Herman Melville over the course of his life served as the means and impetus for his phenomenal literary achievements, and the book-image was an emblem of sorts for his signature themes of disinheritance and intellectual longing. The elder Melvill was himself forced to auction part of his own library during his precipitous financial decline, as his son would recall two decades later with the miraculous recovery of one of its volumes (see Figure 2, and Sealts No. 103), and in his fourth book Redburn (1849) Melville reacted to the first signs of failure in his own professional career with the main character’s pledge to preserve one of the last remnants of his deceased father’s library:

Dear book! I will sell my Shakespeare, and even sacrifice my old quarto Hogarth, before I will part with you. Yes, I will go to the hammer myself, ere I send you to be knocked down in the auctioneer’s shambles. I will, my beloved,—old family relic that you are;—till you drop leaf from leaf, and letter from letter, you shall have a snug shelf somewhere, though I have no bench for myself. (NN Redburn 143)

With the posthumous dispersal of his library in the 1890s (when newspaper obituaries commented that he had long been assumed dead), Melville’s complex relationship to the book—as source of knowledge, as vehicle for literary expression, and as image of vanished prestige and lingering self-worth—reached fitting closure. Like larger blanks in the documentary record of his life that have resulted from decades of contemporary and posthumous neglect, the blank catalogue of Herman Melville’s library captures the poignant juxtaposition of aspiring intellect and contemporary failure so thoroughly bound up with his status among America’s greatest writers.

Extraordinarily responsive to literary influence, Melville frequently marked and annotated what he read, and he relied heavily on sources in the composition of his own works. Pursuit of Melville’s dispersed library and identification of his reading and sources have extended across several generations of scholars and now approach 100 years of research.

In one research book, the marginalia were erased. It so happens that this book had a very important topic for Moby Dick: sperm whales…

Here is the blogpost that showed me the way to this collection of annotations. The blogger writes that it was the following book where the marginalia were erased:

Author: Beale, Thomas, 1807-1849.

Title: The Natural History of the Sperm Whale: Its Anatomy and Physiology—Food—Spermaceti—Ambergris—Rise and Progress of the Fishery—Chase and Capture—”Cutting in” and “Trying Out”—Description of the Ships, Boats, Men, and Instruments Used in the Attack; with an Account of its Favourite Places of Resort. To which is added, a Sketch of a South-Sea Whaling Voyage.

Publication: London: John Van Voorst, 1839.

2nd ed.

Sealts Number: 52.

Association: Autographed, marked and annotated by Herman Melville.

Location: Houghton Library, *AC85.M4977.Zz839b.

This book is available here. The Melvilles Marginalia website – on his annotations – is beautifully detailed – they scan the spine of the books and the pages are facsimiles.

About the annotations and the status of being erased:

Melville normally recorded annotations in the top, bottom, and outside margins of the page, and usually linked them to text with corresponding x’s. In its transcriptions of annotations, the edition represents Melville’s words in large, bold, italicized, characters. Editorial policy is to observe the marginal locations of Melville’s inscriptions as well as the distributions of Melville’s words per written line. But whereas it positions annotations within the same marginal areas as the originals, the edition does not attempt to duplicate the exact spatial relationships between Melville’s individual words and the printed text areas. Although erased markings are with rare exceptions fully recovered, Melville’s erased annotations range among the fully deciphered, the partially deciphered, and the undeciphered. Partially deciphered erased annotations appear with editorial insertions enclosed by square brackets. Where words and letters can be responsibly conjectured on the basis of material evidence, these bracked conjectural readings appear in non-italicized characters. Undeciphered words appear bracketed as question marks preceded and followed by dashes.

Melville’s Marginalia shows you the erased page and an enhanced version, including the transcription of what the annotation probably was saying:

(enhanced image)
7-9] erased pencil x.
14-16] erased pencil checkmark.
Bottom margin] erased pencil annotation:
“until they attain their [one or two undeciphered words] like old
Ixion’s [—?—] & his sins & punishment.”

Now, how did I end up here? Well, that’s through another story, about Rauschenberg and De Kooning, and erasing a drawing (which Nicolas has told me a few years ago, which ……

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