Mechatronics

Description of Collaborative Research Focus Area:

Mechatronics is the functional integration of mechanical, electronic, and information technologies. In DANM this framework is employed for the development and production of physical, systems-based artwork that incorporates elements of robotics, motion control, software engineering, and hardware design. DANM Mechatronics research involves the use of a variety of media including video, performance, and sculpture, for the creation of complex, kinetic, audio-visual systems for the exploration of temporality, materiality, experience and perception.


Project Groups currently run Spring through Winter under DANM 250A-B-C. Beginning in Winter 2011, the project group sequence will run Winter, Spring and Fall quarters.



Current Project Group in Progress

* Spring 2009 - Winter 2010: sonicSENSE

sonicSENSE is a collaborative platform which uses a diverse array of computational media, robotics, electronics and more traditional visual arts media to create an interactive environment for participants in both physical and virtual space. The goal of the project is to forge dynamic ongoing relationships that link artists and viewers in dialogue through an inter-connected system of reactive interfaces.

Participant interactions with a variety of robotic and mechanical sculptural nodes generate new audio-visual content within the sonicSense platform and new libraries of sound and data are collected and disseminated. The platform currently includes a number of sculptural nodes that allow the viewer/participant to produce audioscapes, data projections and mechanical noises. These are collected and distributed through live and on-line interactions.

UCSC art professor Jennifer Parker and her collaborator Barney Haynes (Chair of Media Arts at California College of the Arts) have embarked on a series of art exhibitions, panel discussions, university courses and workshops for artists, scholars and students including the 2009-10 Mechatronics Collaborative Research Group in order to develop the sonicSENSE platform.



Upcoming Project Groups:

* Spring 2010 - Winter 2011: sonicSENSE

sonicSENSE is a collaborative platform which uses a diverse array of computational media, robotics, electronics and more traditional visual arts media to create an interactive environment for participants in both physical and virtual space. The goal of the project is to forge dynamic ongoing relationships that link artists and viewers in dialogue through an inter-connected system of reactive interfaces.

Participant interactions with a variety of robotic and mechanical sculptural nodes generate new audio-visual content within the sonicSense platform and new libraries of sound and data are collected and disseminated. The platform currently includes a number of sculptural nodes that allow the viewer/participant to produce audioscapes, data projections and mechanical noises. These are collected and distributed through live and on-line interactions.

UCSC art professor Jennifer Parker and her collaborator Barney Haynes (Chair of Media Arts at California College of the Arts) have embarked on a series of art exhibitions, panel discussions, university courses and workshops for artists, scholars and students including the 2009-10 Mechatronics Collaborative Research Group in order to develop the sonicSENSE platform.



Past Project Groups:

* Spring 2008 - Winter 2009: Methodologies in Bio-Art

Project Proposal: MS Word 48KB HTML Version

The group will examine biology, environmentalism, genetic engineering, robotics, artificial life, genetic algorithms, and other synthetic biologies toward a critical and analysis of current issues and strategies in bio-art. The task is to examine concepts from biology and to use biological ideas, metaphors, and materials to create works of art. The project group will also examine the historical, social, and cultural relationship to biology, the natural world, and biotechnologies. Readings will include topics that reflect on history, environmentalism, and social and cultural criticism of bio-art and technologies toward examining ethics and social issues. Topics include an historical overview of human relationships to the natural world, criticism of contemporary technologies, environmental concerns, current strategies and works in bio-art, artists working in biotechnologies, the effects on communities, and ethical concerns in biotechnologies.

Our first project, CathexiSpin, premiered at 01 San Jose in June, 2008. CathexiSpin provided mobile spinning classes in a public outdoor site connected with 01SJ, sites where communities can come together and invest their mechanical energy in autonomous alternative energy initiatives. CathexiSpin operates within principles of emergence and cross-pollination between riders, makers, and the event as a whole.

If every spinning class was connected to the grid, imagine the kilowatts of electrical power we could return to the community! To harness the transformative power of spinning-generated electrical energy, CathexiSpin's classes are free and open to the public. The energy created by the collaborative effort of the instructor and participants powers individual batteries that together, form an aggregate reserve of art energy.

The photo at right shows CathexiSpin powering Robin Lasser and Adrienne Pao's Ice Queen Dress Tent at Subzero, part of the 01SJ festival. Riding the bike closest to the Ice Queen is David Butcher, who designed the custom generator bikes built for the project.

Class Wiki Fall 2008

Class Wiki Spring 2008


website for first project, CathexiSpin

Spring 2007 - Winter 2008: Project Name: OUTFIELD -- Call and Response: Hocketing for Physical Media

Video of Outfield Demo presentation, December, 2007

Wiki Page for the Project

Project Group Members

*Original Project Proposal:
MS Word 40KB HTML Version


This project group is developing a series of interactive mechanical and electronic artworks that respond to site and to one another. Focusing on the principles of emergent behaviors as they are manifested in complex physical systems, the pieces taken together will form a responsive ecology constructed from electronic components and code.

Research into the conceptual framework for the pieces is conducted concurrently with their material development so that a focused and specific vocabulary of electronic art is absorbed as the pieces themselves are constructed. This research is being used to compile an openly available resource of information acquired while developing the pieces.

Spring 2006 - Winter 2007: Unnatural Selection






Spring 2005 - Winter 2006: "Artparts" Project

Ed Osborn's group researches the best way to do and make various "tools" for DANM type projects. Currently the group is devoted to producing an online category of "useful to artistis" links. It is very much in beta: http://artparts.ucsc.edu/

People: Ed Osborn, Tiffany Wong, Sumit Agarwal, Christopher Ramirez, Jess Damsen

Spring 2005 - Winter 2006: Peter Elsea's Group

Peter's Group explores new relationships between image and sound. This includes techniques for deriving images from sound, sound from images, and generating both from a common source. Student work may include interactive installations, video projections, algorithmic composition, synthesis by sonification, interface design, web pages, laser shows and more. The culmination of our activities will be a performance (May 2006) and publication tools and techniques developed. People: Peter Elsea, [Daniel Massey, Darryl Ferrucci and leaf


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