bloc // August 11, 2001

Outside the Box ? Microcontrollers ⁄⁄

Date: Friday 7th December 2001
Time: 2.30pm to 6pm
Venue:Glynn Vivian Art Gallery
Partner: Glynn Vivian Art Gallery |
Partner: Swansea Institute Digital Media Centre |

This seminar will explore the use of mechanics, electronics and mechatronics in art and offer a user-friendly short introduction to programming and the use of microcontrollers. The seminar will also focus on how computer programming and algorithms, coupled with a responsive aspect to a work, touches on sociological and psychological issues such as the imitation of creature behaviour and the modelling of nature, artificial intelligence (AI) as a means of creating autonomous machines, and the individual versus society.


Mechanics and electronics have long been employed in art, transforming static sculpture into animated and sometimes responsive works. ‘Mechatronics’ is a term which specifies how electronics, coupled with computer science, have fairly recently been introduced to support once mechanically automated machines.

This integration of ‘digital electronics’ enables machines more independence, articulation and sensitivity through the use of microcontrollers. As the name suggests, microcontrollers are very small computers that, as with computer chips, are programmable and are currently incorporated into many electronic household devices.

Microprocessors are special purpose computers running one bespoke program and offer possibilities for signals processing and data collection whilst interfacing to electronic circuits and machines. Further, the use of algorithms enables machines to function individually and more specifically to their environmental condition.

Microcontrollers such as STAMPS or PICS are relatively inexpensive and can be used with a basic knowledge of electronics, enabling artists to create works that employ digital technology beyond the computer terminal.

One Response to Outside the Box ? Microcontrollers

  1. Now thatÂ’s sublte! Great to hear from you.