Arduino LED AcroSuit@Ozora 2014

Ozora festival in Hungary is a magic place where creativity comes to life in thousands of different art expressions. In 2014 we thought of applying the infinite possibilities of Arduino to an AcroYoga performance in the Chill Out Dome. We were running a workshop of LED lights in the HackerSpace of the ArtBarn and on the way to the festival we thought it would be fun to have hackers and acroyogis collaborate on a project.

acroOzora

 

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Makers and Acrobatic performers have a very different way to look at things and a completely different set of priorities. The first trip on the uncountable possibilities of programming, while the latter look at the beauty and the amazing possibilities of the human body. In this case, we decided music would be the link and light the common means to convey the enormous potential of this collaboration. The idea was to create an interactive LED suit programmed using a Lily Pad Arduino, a microcontroller designed for wearables.

First, we had to understand how to combine the necessities of both worlds. The first sketches revealed the difficulty of placing the LED wire in a way that would not disturb the movements of the acrobatic partners and that would allow the changing LED lights to be appreciated from every angle. Preliminary conversations of this interesting partnership between nerds and yoga geeks brought about challenging questions; while makers had to understand what dictates the flow of an AcroYoga performance, performers were overwhelmed by the possibilities of having the patterns of light changing according to the position of their limbs, of the pitch or beat of the music or simply by time.

Once the theory more or less decided, we passed to action.

Sowing the LED on the fabric

Sowing the LED on the fabric

The ArtBarn at Ozora is the best place to carry out such projects as there are many creative people around happy to give a hand. Tailors sew the LED stripe on the fabric and makers fixed the cable and connected it to the Arduino controller by soldering the tips.
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There came another challenge: how to fix the cable in a way that the performers’ movements would not hamper the functioning of the controller.

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The next step was programming. The possibilities were endless. Synch to the music or to the body movements? Considered that it was a prototype and the very first time we had tried such a combination, we decided to keep it simple and to only add the variable of time. Light colours and patterns would change according to pre-definite timings. This solution was probably the easiest one, one that does not fully exploit the full potential of this collaboration, but it was nevertheless a way to sense how further we could go.

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After almost a week, the suit was ready for testing, first at the ArtBarn, and then at the Chill Out Dome, during Eat Static Live.

Video of bits and pieces of the testing/performance

Workshop led by Davide Gomba and Steve Wagner

Performance by Marge and Thomas

Things we learnt:

Choose a resistant fabric
Fix the controller better on the flyer’s body
Synch on the music and on the movements whenever possible
Move less and slower, dance more

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