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Mark

Destiny Clock

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Destiny Clock is modular programmable system for generating digital compositions. Signals are strictly on/off messages, meaning that patches for even simple melodies require several connections. Modules are based on the principles of logic chips, but extend those functionalities for purposes of composition and user interaction. Patches use a combination of generator and processor modules before passing signals to the interface module which constructs and transmits a MIDI signal to a hardware or software synthesizer.




Materials & Software
Microcontroller
Circuit Boards
Laser Cut Plexi


External Links
Video Documentation
Sound Compositions








Full-Scale Version

This version uses 3.5mm patch cable connections and a modified Eurorack design. It is constructed of translucent and matte-black acryllic and stainless steel mounting racks. The interface module features two options for input: note selection through the use of a tuneable potentiometer and a graphically represented keyboard where each connection represents an output note. The system is composed of 24 modules with a total of 437 LEDs and 370 patch points.






Portable Version

The portable version of Destiny Clock uses surface-mount pin headers as connection points between modules. Due to space restrictions, modules consist solely of their constituent inputs and outputs. Some modules run using just a logic chip such as the 4051 Multiplexer or the 4015 Shift Register. Others are programmed on the ATMEGA 328P. The system is enclosed in clear acrylic.





Prototype

The Binary Modular creates and processes digital on/off signals for the purposes of visual and musical composition. The system includes a squarewave signal generator, frequency divider, shift register, and multiplexer. Signals are connected and processed via patch cables. Final command signals are connected to an interface module where each is assigned a MIDI note number. These messages can be routed to hardware synthesizers and digital audio workstations. 





Video Synthesizer

12-bit patterns is an example of the visual potential of the Binary Modular. Each image is composed of a series of rectangular color strips. The height, color, and position of each strip are determined by the current state of twelve binary operators. The system can be patched in limitless ways, but it is through the use of the frequency division module that the most interesting visual harmonics are achieved.





Presentation at Eyebeam

At the end of my residency, I had the opportunity to present my research to an attentive and curious audience. The talk covered many of the practical steps taken in the design process and the resultant form. Accompanying the presentation was an exhibition of several Destiny Clock systems, prototypes, and other related interactive devices. 










Theseus

New Modular Electronic Music System

Theseus is a platform for designing modular electronic instruments for musical and visual composition. Building on the Eurorack analog synthesizer standard, the platform uses 3.5mm patch cables to interconnect modules. However, unlike the Eurorack standard, Theseus is entirely digital and produces MIDI/OSC control messages rather than audio signals. This simplification in fidelity greatly reduces the cost and complexity of the electronic circuits, making patch cable composition systems more accessible to artists. Fourteen modules were designed to demonstrate the potential of such a platform.




Materials & Software
Microcontroller
Circuit Boards
Interface Hardware
Laser Cut Plexi


External Links
Video Documentation
Build Photos







Life Oranges

Life Oranges is the main trigger and gate signal generator for Theseus. The module produces five square waves. The topmost controller determines a main frequency. The remaining four channels produce signals at varying divided rates of the main frequency. The value of the divisor is set by a corresponding rotary controller. Divided signals are crucial in developing rhythmic patterns, syncing modules, and offsetting sequences. Life Oranges work well with the Muxquencer, Boolean Logic Matrix, and Mandalatron modules.





Don’t Care Now

Don't Care Now is a three channel square wave generato with the option for frequency modulation input. The switch located on each channel toggles between coarse and fine frequency adjustments. The graphic design of Don’t Care Now is meant to convey a sense of modulated percussive frequencies. 





Friendshaper

Wavefriends takes the outputs from each of the four channels from Friendshaper and pairs them. These paired signals will be averaged or multiplied together to create a summed waveform as an output. The final rotary controller determines the ratio of how much either waveform is present in the mathematical operation performed. This can be used to create interesting waveforms or as a mixing tool to smoothly transition between two waveforms.





Ripple Me Timbers

Ripple Me Timbers is another of the more complex modules found in Theseus. It records incoming waveforms and then allows the user to playback the recorded information at a reduced speed. In this instance, slower speeds are determined by a divided frequency rate. Four channels are available for playing the waveform back at altered speeds. This process effectively creates rhythmic harmonics of the input signal. An offset controller on each channel allows the user to set the starting point of each sample in relation to the original signal.





Muxquencer

The Muxquencer is a union of the functionalities of a step sequencer and a multiplexer. In this case, four selection inputs are used to select a step and route its value to the output. In addition, this module allows access to permutations of the selection inputs. Blue LEDs indicate the original binary selection while green represents a permutation of the selection pins. This allows the same information to create two entirely different pattern sets. The permutation controller is also voltage controllable; meaning feedback from the Muxquencer's values can be used to alter its own pattern.





Mandalatron

Mandalatron is a four channel ten step sequencer. Each channel possesses the same values set by the ten central rotary controllers, but with isolated clocks and sequence lengths. When the clock input of a channel is triggered, the sequence will advance by one step and reset to the first step at the point designated by the sequence length controller. This arrangement and iteration of channels allows for complex harmonic rhythms to be created easily. It was designed with pitch output in mind, but these voltages can be used to modulate other variables such as note length and velocity to great effect.





Eyes

Fire Emblem, a 2003 Gameboy Advance Game from Nintendo and Intelligent Systems, features a collection of heavily armored warriors engaging in combat to save their world from the forces of evil. Cut scenes between combat events are utilized to progress the story. Up to four characters are presented on screen from the chest up with text bubbles appearing above whoever is currently speaking. During these scenes, characters will blink intermittently. These blinking events are the driving force behind the Eyes modules.





Lowfo

Lowfo is a four channel low frequency oscillator. Each channel is capable of producing square, triangle, ramp, sawtooth, and random waveforms. The frequencies of the oscillators are determined firstly by a rotary controller and secondly by a modulation input. Waveforms are selectable by a small pushbutton located directly above the LED bank. The leftmost and rightmost oscillators can have their signals reset by an external trigger signal located near the top of the module.





World Clock

World Clock is a simulation of birth rates. Data points from the United Nations Children's Fund's 2013 report on annual number of births were used to calculate the frequency at which births occur in a variety of places across the planet. Essentially, LED flashes indicate live births in simplified real-time for the year 2013.





World Clock

Neat TV is the only utility module found in the collection. It acts as a standard oscilloscope by receiving waveforms and producing a graphic visualization. Neat TV supports two voltage inputs each with a bypassed output and individual refresh control rates. Future programs for the module may include abstract and aesthetic pattern visualization generated from incoming signals.





Boolean Logic Matrix

The Boolean Logic Matrix accepts gate signals on each of its axes. A logic operation at the XY coordinates of the inputs is performed and a processed signal output. The Logic Matrix offers AND, OR, NOR, NAND, XOR, XNOR, and NOT logic functions with the last pertaining exclusively to inputs on the X axis.





Maht Dvdr

The module is driven by a master clock. With each trigger signal it receives an onboard counter increases by one. Sixteen frequencies, each a division of the current counter value, run in the background. These channels are accessed and routed to each output using three inputs. The first receives a voltage that determines which of the ten output positions to select. The second input determines what divided frequency to assign to that output. Lastly, a latch input locks the selected divided frequency to the selected output channel.





Missing No.

Missing No. is the strange mutable module of the collection. Its graphic design is deliberately vague. Inputs and outputs are not easily identifiable either. The module's greatest strength lies in this abstraction for it can be reprogrammed to perform any task that requires up to 15 input/output jacks and 12 LEDs. It uses both literal and random routing systems to generate outputs/









Embedded Electronic Games

Tangible Handheld Digital Adventures

Destiny Clock is modular programmable system for generating digital compositions. Signals are strictly on/off messages, meaning that patches for even simple melodies require several connections. Modules are based on the principles of logic chips, but extend those functionalities for purposes of composition and user interaction. Patches use a combination of generator and processor modules before passing signals to the interface module which constructs and transmits a MIDI signal to a hardware or software synthesizer.



Materials & Software
Microcontroller
Circuit Boards
Interface Hardware
Laser Cut Plexi


External Links
Video Documentation
Sound Compositions








Push All The Buttons

Push All the Buttons is a game with no rules and, as its name implies, a single objective. Players are encouraged to explore and experiment with different techniques to achieve victory. A 128 Arduinome and Max patch serve as the games platform.





Sea Bees

Sea Bees is a virtual pet game. By selecting the right food and behaviors the pet with grow and evolve into a new form. There are several branchines evolution paths for the player to explore. The device is batter operated.






Envoy

Envoy consists of four physical elements. The first is the main CPU housed within an aluminum enclosure. This piece holds the entire game on an internal microcontroller programmed to behave as a USB keyboard. When connected to a computer, it automatically begins to type the story. Automated Shift and Tab keys are used to change images and toggle between command windows. Second, a five-button controller acts as the player’s main interface for selecting story paths within the game. Third, a dossier of printed materials provides context for the story. Finally, a Rubik’s cube with conductive panels and a docking station serve as the game’s final puzzle. The docking station is an array of switches that is capable of detecting whether the player has correctly solved the puzzle.
























Game Controllers

001  Eyebeam Art + Technology Center : May 2017

Destiny Clock is modular programmable system for generating digital compositions. Signals are strictly on/off messages, meaning that patches for even simple melodies require several connections. Modules are based on the principles of logic chips, but extend those functionalities for purposes of composition and user interaction. Patches use a combination of generator and processor modules before passing signals to the interface module which constructs and transmits a MIDI signal to a hardware or software synthesizer.



Materials & Software
Microcontroller
Circuit Boards
Interface Hardware
Laser Cut Plexi


External Links
Video Documentation
Sound Compositions








Panoramical Home Controller

Fifty special edition controllers were made for the development team and early supporters of Panoramical. The laser cut walnut and acrylic cases were sanded and then assembled by hand. The electronic components consisted of a custom printed circuit board and a USB microcontroller.




Panoramical Gallery Controller

This version was designed for the Game Science Center in Berlin for public display and use. It features large controls and is constructed with more durable materials.





Super Sequence Fighter

Super Sequence Fighter is a video game controller based on the step-sequencer. Players program their commands using two sets of slide potentiometers, one for movements and another for attacks. These commands are stepped through sequentially and executed automatically. Other controls are used for altering the rate that the steps advance, limiting the number of steps, and reversing the direction of the sequence.





Arcade Controllers

12-bit patterns is an example of the visual potential of the Binary Modular. Each image is composed of a series of rectangular color strips. The height, color, and position of each strip are determined by the current state of twelve binary operators. The system can be patched in limitless ways, but it is through the use of the frequency division module that the most interesting visual harmonics are achieved.











Kiwi Electronics

Noise and Chip Music Online Storefront

Kiwi Electronics was a small electronics design studio specializing in the creation of hardware interfaces for navigating sonic and visual environments. Founded in 2011, Kiwi started off catering primarily to the noise and chiptune music communities through DIY products including MIDI interfaces and matrix mixers. In its final years, Kiwi focused on designing affordable modular controllers. The studio closed in early 2018 with over 500 customers and over ten completed designs.





Materials & Software
Microcontroller
Circuit Boards
Interface Hardware


External Links
Video Documentation








Passive Matrix Mixer

The passive matrix mixer is an invaluable tool for noise artists whose practice is based in feedback loops. Devices like these have found fame through their heavy use by avant-garde composers like David Tudor and Merzbow. The Kiwi Matrix Mixer is the most compact iteration ever produced for sale. A kit version was also made available to electronics hobbyists.







Modi Expandable Controller

Modi is a controller bank system designed for AVR microcontroller platforms like Arduino and Teensy. There are four distinct module types available, each consisting of either 8 or 16 individually readable analog or digital controllers. Modi boards can be stacked to support up to 64 inputs making them ideal for MIDI/OSC projects. The system utilizes the 4051 8-channel analog multiplexer and a firmware library to collect readings. A smoothing method is included in the library to facilitate stable readings.





Generation I : Arduinoboy

The Arduinoboy is an open source project by Timothy Lamb from 2008. The software is designed for the Arduino hardware platform and allows MIDI communication to music applications on the Nintendo Gameboy such as LittleSoundDJ, Nanoloop, and mGB. Kiwi electronics created the first commercial release of Lamb's hardware and software design.





Generation II : Arduinoboy

For this iteration, professionally printed circuit boards were used along with compact powder coated aluminum enclosures. This version had both MIDI IN and OUT and was powered using a 9V external supply. Kits were also released for experienced hobbyists who could supply their own housing for the device.





Generation III : Arduinoboy

In this final iteration all components were board-mounted inside an open acrylic enclosure. This streamlining allowed not only for more units to be produced, but also the ability to offer kits to beginner electronics hobbyists.





MFOS Noise Toaster

The Noise Toaster is a lo-fi analog noise synthesizer designed by Ray Wilson of Music from Outer Space (MFOS). This version from Kiwi Electronics included a modification that allows for external CV control of the VCO as well as an input that passes a mono audio signal through the VCF. The noise maker shines when run through effects pedals.