Month: November 2013

We have light!

For a few hours, I couldn’t figure out why my lights wouldn’t turn on.

Then I realized that I forgot to add bangs to each responder. After adding all of them, the lights still wouldn’t turn on. I checked each wire, and double checked my notes until I finally realized that I forgot to launch the Arduino software and upload the sketch. And then, the light turned on!

However, I saw two error messages which appeared when uploaded my board and they were:

avrdude: stk500_paged_write(): (a) protocol error, expect=0x14, resp=0x18
avrdude: stk500_cmd(): programmer is out of sync

I’ve been checking the Arduino forums but I’m not finding the right answer, or what avrdude means (Who the hell is avrdude? Is he the ovrload of Arduino?)

Anywho, the lights work regardless of these errors so I’m going to pretend that they don’t exist and continue on. I’ll still keep looking for the answer but the lights work.

Another curious thing I’ve noticed is that I’m finding some lights are turning on at the right time, others aren’t turning on at all. I’m sure this has to do with the error messages I’m receiving but why do some lights turn on over others? Weird.

Pure Data and me

I’ve made some progress in my project especially in Pure Data.

I was able to create the multiple objects in the arduino-test patch that will speak to each LED light on my breadboard not only once, but multiple times. My music is 2:09 minutes and there’s about 20 or so sections in which a distinctive note that can be heard. That note will correspond to each of the object which will light up the LED. My goal is to have them atomically fire at the right time.

While I did get help in the set up and it should technically work, I’m still not 100 per cent sure about using this software. I’m treating it like it’s a sophisticated bomb that can explode my computer and the world at any moment. (It’s dramatic, I know, but sometimes, that’s how I feel about technology that’s so foreign to me.)

Again, it should technically work but I’m worried that I will miss a step and enter panic mode.

If I can’t figure out how to make these objects respond to the lights at the right times, I’m going to have to do it manually, which will be labour intensive to accomplish. It will make my set up confusing and I will have to remember which light to turn on at the right time. I’m hoping to not have to do that but that is Plan B.

Anywho, I’ve reorganized my objects in an orderly fashion and it looks much better.

ImageI still have to finish the maquette but I can do this later. For now, I have to figure out this Pure Data business.

New gear

I bought my own Arduino the other day. I brought it home and was ready to apply what I learned in class but somehow, it didn’t work! Rats.


A light on the Arduino does go on and off so I know that it’s connected to my computer but it’s not responding to the instructions I created in Pure Data. I’m not familiar enough with the software or with Arduino so I really don’t know what could be the problem. I will ask for help tonight once I go to class.

In the meantime, I started cutting out my city skyline maquette that will be seen in the video. I want to create a multiple of these and add a semi-opaque paper to replicate office buildings at night. I’m going to project a light behind it so you will the outline of the buildings. One of the six lights will randomly be set up in one of the windows, that will blink on and off.


I figured out the theme of this idea. I want to focus on isolation and a common bond. The idea stems from my time working in the financial industry for many years, and feeling isolated and alone. I felt this because I was doing jobs that didn’t appeal to me but worked because I needed to pay my bills and wondered if there was a way out. Whenever I was stuck at work during the evenings because of overtime, I would feel this a lot. Truth be told, I felt stuck, alone and isolated all of the time, and every day before going into work but more so when I stuck during the evening or late in the day when the sun would set a lot sooner.

I remembered looking outside and across at other office buildings nearby and seeing other individuals  sitting at their desks working. Did they feel the same thing I did? Did they feel also isolated with their own problems?


The blinking lights represent those who feel isolated or stuck in their situation. This feeling is shared by the other lights that blinks which is the shared bond.

It’s a gist of my idea which I will better explain in my artist statement but I hope these lights and the theme translates well enough to the audience.

The Finals Have Arrived

OK, folks, we’re in the home stretch here. It’s finals time!

I had a lot of difficulty coming up with a decent idea for this project. Ideas came to me but the more I thought of the logistics, the more I wondered about the execution and I was going to come up with the process.

So, my basic idea right now is building a city skyline, at night, and incorporate LED lights that fade in and out using Arduino. The fade ins and outs are timed to a piece of music that would be perfect for it.

I’m not sure if it’s too simplistic or just plain boring, but it’s a thought.

The piece of music I want to use is Broken Social Scene’s Capture the Flag. It’s beautiful and atmospheric, and would be ideal for this project.

And, we’re done!

My video shoot with Katie went well yesterday. She came over to my house and we were able to shoot several scenes in a few hours. Before she came over, I did some rudimentary sketches of what I wanted. These are very rough sketches but at least they were useful to the type of story I wanted to convey and what I wanted Katie to do.


After getting the scenes I wanted, I quickly edited them in iMovie at school, and laid down my track. Similar to the Blonde Redhead-Miranda July video, I chose to do short edits. I had instructed Katie to pause in between scenes, especially those seen on the couch. These made it easy for me to edit them quickly.

And then, I was done! Huzzah!

What did I learn from the process? The importance of a detailed plan. While I did write and sketch a few notes and ideas I had, I also did not write everything down. I did get the scenes I wanted but I also let things happen “on the fly”. Sometimes, that works; other times, it doesn’t. If I had created a more detailed story board or wrote down in detail the scenes, I wouldn’t improvised some of the scenes. It’s a nerve wracking process which at times, is the type of stress I want to experience. Note for future visual projects: have a plan.

But for now, here’s the video. Enjoy!

And, we’re back on track!

OK! I’ve got an idea!

I’m still very inspired by the Blonde Redhead-Miranda July collaboration I posted the other day. I want to do something similar except, unlike in the video, I don’t want the space won’t be so sparse like a plain backdrop, nor do I want the edits to be close together. My friend Katie, who is a visual and performance artist, will be coming over to my place tomorrow and we’ll see what kind of magic happens.

For the video, I want to explore the theme of loneliness. I don’t want to specifically focus on being lonely because of the lack of love in one’s life but rather, feeling lonely when we shouldn’t feel that way at all. We live in an age where we have a lot of friends, are connected in every possible way and we collect material objects around us. All of us, no matter if we’re single or in relationship, feel like we’re alone. It’s a pretty heavy topic, so I’m going to try to explore that in the video in the way that can be understood well.

Part of my inspiration for the video is also thanks to my acquisition of new music courtesy of AroarA, a Montreal-based band. I saw them play on Friday at the Dakota Tavern and after a long wait, I bought their newly-released LP. The album is based on Alice Notley’s poetry book, In The Pines, and I think the band did a superb job translating the poems into music. I’ve decided that one of the tracks is going to be the soundtrack of this video.

Let’s hope tomorrow works out well!


So much for Plan A, now for Plan B

Up to a minute ago, I thought that I had a great idea about my video project. But the more I worked with the clips, and the more I began to put the pieces together, I realized that the original idea I had wasn’t a very good one.

The other night I went out my friends to XO Karaoke in Koreatown and I had the great idea of videotaping their goofy and expressive reactions. I wanted to reference the Blonde Redhead video that featured Miranda July, where it was edited as a stop-motion video. It seemed like a good idea at the time and my friends, being the good sports that they were, agreed to help.

The experience was fun and I get a real kick at looking back at the clips, but the draft version I had created didn’t quite translate to what I was thinking. I realized that my idea was cute, but not one I wanted to present in class.

I guess I’m attracted to the idea of stop motion, though I don’t necessarily want to just stop motion. I want to incorporate some sort of movement as the person is walking or moving in these clips even if I do want to edit it like a stop motion video. I need to do more research but for now, it’s back to the drawing board.