Mixed Signals, A piece about interspecies/human-animal communication. My final project for my sensors art class! It’s a plush cat with a LED Matrix head who responds with abstract compositions when you pet it’s back. Sewn into it’s back is conductive thread that acts as a capacitive touch sensor — and pretty cool, it’s not really visible under the fur! Inside the head is where the arduino uno is housed, and a long-life battery is housed in the body in a hidden zipper pouch. Embroidered into the plush’s back are rows of conductive thread that serve as one big capacitive touch sensor to trigger the matrix. At first I thought of programming the matrix with ‘faces’ or recognizable symbols like letters or numbers, but then decided it might be too cliche and too embedded in human communication to be animal communication. I chose to instead create abstract compositions that would be displayed when the cat was touched, the thinking being that they would invite interpretation by the viewer, just as animal communication invites interpretation. In critique, one of the first things my classmates began discussing was whether one reaction was a ‘good’ reaction or a ‘bad’ reaction, so I was really pleased with that! This lends to my concept being that whatever the animal’s intention behind it’s communication, we only take away our human interpretation of it.
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