Device Art

Ars Electronica (AT)
Opening: WED September 3, 2014, 6:30 PM /
Exhibition: THU September 4, SAT September 6, SUN September 7, 2014, 10 AM-9 PM,
FRI September 5, 2014, 10 AM-11 PM,
MON September 8, 2014, 10 AM-6 PM

Ars Electronica Center

Device art is a relatively young art form. A group centered on Hiroo Iwata (JP) at the University of Tsukuba initiated the device art movement in 2004. The point is to use innovative materials and techniques to create high-tech appliances featuring sophisticated, cool design. They thus combine art, design, technology, science and entertainment. The content of device art is the device itself. Form, appearance and function are inseparable from one another. Though absolutely epitomizing modernity, device art also carries on ancient Japanese traditions—for example, highly esteeming playfulness and cultivating the things and practices used in everyday life.

Seriousness Cloaked in Playfulness

The Device Art exhibition at the Ars Electronica Center spotlights exemplary objects that put a fun, playful exterior on a serious, high-performance core. Nevertheless, all the items on display are, at least potentially, suitable for use in everyday life. A few, such as the Otamatone, a musical instrument invented by Maywa Denki (Novmichi Tosa), are already on retailers’ shelves.

In addition to objects by the Japanese group, the Ars Electronica Center’s exhibition includes works by artists at the ART|SCI Center of the University of California at Los Angeles (US), and Kontejner, the Zagreb, Croatia-based bureau of contemporary art practice.

Additional Information

Read more about this on our Ars Electronica Blog!

To go more deeply into this subject, attend the Device Art Symposium. Meet the artists personally during the Artist Talks on the venue.


Food Simulator
Hiroo Iwata (JP)
Taste is the last frontier of virtual reality. Taste is very difficult to display because it is a multi-modal sensation composed of chemical substance, haptics and sound. Taste perceived by the tongue can be measured using a biological membrane sensor. It can easily be synthesized from five basic tastes. Olfactory display is not popular but flavor can be easily displayed using a vaporizer. The unsolved problem in taste display is in the area of haptics. We developed a novel interface to display biting force. It is designed to fit the user’s mouth. The haptic device is composed of a 1DOF (degree-of-freedom) mechanism, employing four linkages. The shape of the linkage enables the application of force to the back teeth. *Food Simulator* generates force according to the captured force of real food. A film-like force sensor is used to measure the force with which real food is bitten. A force sensor is installed in the *Food Simulator* and the device is actuated using the force control method. The profile of the biting force of the real food is realized by force control of the device.

Robot Tile
Hiroo Iwata (JP)
It has often been suggested that the best locomotion mechanism for virtual worlds would be walking. It is well known that the sense of distance or orientation is much better while walking than while riding in a vehicle. However, the proprioceptive feedback of walking is not provided in most applications of virtual environments.
*Robot Tile* is a locomotion interface using a group of movable tiles. The movable tiles employ a holonomic mechanism that achieves omni-directional motion. Circulation of the tiles enables the user to walk in a virtual environment while his/her position is maintained. An image sensor measures the motion of the feet.. The tile moves in the opposite direction to the measured direction of the walker, so that motion of the step is canceled. *Robot Tile* is able to cancel the displacement of the walker in an arbitrary direction. Thus, the walker can freely change direction while walking. It also has the potential to create an uneven surface by mounting an up-and-down mechanism on each tile.

Otomatone Digital & Jumbo
Novmichi Tosa (JP)
Otamatone Jumbo is a large-scale otamatone developed for live stages. Tune changes by pushing membrane switch on the tale. Its mouth opens by grasping the handle at the bottom and timber changes by formant effect. The Otamatone digital is a digital version of Otamatone. Exact pitch out on the keyboard switches. Switchable normal mode, the power code mode, and drum mode.

Mr. Knocky
Novmichi Tosa (JP)
Remote control by wire, Knocky can play percussion without the use of electricity.

Thanks Tails
Kazuhiko Hachiya (JP)
Thanks Tails are tails made for cars. They are “organs” that express appreciation, in a way that is easy to understand: not verbally, but by the gesture that is the wag of a dog’s tail. The project is progressing with the cooperation of car-related companies. The photograph shows a model that was added to a Smart car, in order to check the drivers’ response.

Masahiko Inami, Kentaro Yasu (JP)
Popapy is an instant paper craft that can be folded up in a microwave oven. With a piece of ordinary paper and a specially designed sheet, we can make a 3D paper craft in 1 minute by using a microwave oven. The specially designed sheet is made from a combination of two materials, a heat-shrinkable sheet and a microwave-safe aluminum sheet. The aluminum sheet absorbs microwaves and provides heat energy to the heat-shrinkable sheet efficiently. The shrinking sheet then bends and folds the paper. We established the design method for the bent angle and bent timing by changing the size of the two materials.

Robot Mask
Kenji Suzuki (JP), Dushyantha Jayatilake (LK)
This wearable robot is originally designed to support the rehabilitation of a hemifacial paralyzed patient, whose voluntary muscle activities of the face degrades or disappear due to various medical conditions. Based on a special smile detection algorithm of facial electromyography signals from the non-affected side of the face, a bio-robotic control is carried out to assist facial expressiveness on the affected side through external manipulations of the facial skin.

Parallel Lives
Hideyuki Ando, Eisuke Kusachi, Junji Watanabe (JP):
This work is composed of two touch monitors. Shadows of human beings are walking in a monitor, and real figures of human beings are walking in the other monitor. When the user touches the shadow, it disappears while giving tactile feedback to the user, and appears as a real figure in the other monitor. When the user touches the real figure, it disappears, while giving tactile feedback, and appears in the other monitor. The human beings in the monitors go back and forth between the two monitors by being touched. The piezo actuator is put under the touch panel and is stimulated by the user’s finger on the touch panel. The timing and magnitude of the vibration are controlled by the position of the finger, measured with the touch sensor of an LCD panel. When the user rubs an image, tactile feedback is presented.

A Couple of Irons
Eric Siu (HK)
The marriage of A Couple of Irons unites a screen and a camera in two irons as a pair of toys that translates playful mediation. They destroy the meaning and subvert the function of a domestic appliance. As a couple of absurd visual devices, they encourage creative interaction. At the same time, they provoke a question. Is it a design object or an art piece?

Eric Siu (HK)
Touchy is a human cameraa wearable device that literally transforms a human being into a functioning camera. The wearer is constantly “blinded” unless someone touches his/her skin that causes the shutters to open and restores the wearer’s vision. When physical contact is held for 10 seconds, the camera takes a “touch-snap”, which is displayed on the device’s LCD.

Sustainable Cinema No. 2: Lentiuclar Bicycle
Scott Hessels (US)
Sustainable Cinema is a series of kinetic public sculptures that merge natural power sources with early optical illusions to create a moving image. Lenticular Bicycle is the first of five completed sculptures to use human energy. The pedal-powered animation references the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the hacked bicycles that are roughly converted for use in family businesses throughout Southeast Asia.

Lauren McCarthy (US)
A conversation aid device that prompts you on what to say and do and guides everyone towards smooth, comfortable conversation every time. Microphones monitor audio levels and the cube responds accordingly, providing individual prompts to each participant to enliven, mediate conflict, or balance conversation as necessary.

Happiness Hat
Lauren McCarthy (US)
The Happiness Hat is a wearable conditioning device that detects if you’re smiling and provides painful feedback if you stop. Frowning creates intense pain, but a full smile leaves you pain free! Through repeated use of this conditioning device you can train your brain to smile all the time.

Inside Out
Jaehyuck Bae (KR)
Inside Out is a series of machinic-kinetic sculptures that purport to give an expression to invisible systems by using light and shadows. The sculptures consist of sets of transparent acrylic gears that have been generated through programming and produced by a laser cutting. The work raises the issue of device art, because it explores ways of producing complex artworks by manufacturing technology.

Martina Mezak (HR)
Urania is a cloud-making device. It allows us to control the cloud density by blowing up the clouds. The interactive installation deals with the technological simulation of nature. An aesthetically pleasing ambience generated through the imitation of pleasant and calming natural phenomena is replicated in the gallery space.
The interactive visual imagery allows the user to participate in the creation of a virtual sky. By blowing into a long velvet tube, clouds can either be created or dispersed from the sky. The participant lies on a soft mattress beneath computer-generated clouds on the ceiling. Due to the ‘immateriality’ of matter in this ‘clouds-air installation’, the digital medium serves as an ideal surrogate for the gassy, airy state of clouds and breath.

Anselmo Tumpić (HR)
Tateye is the prototype of eyeglasses that use two built-in lasers to engrave retina with permanent tattoos. This allows you to see design symbols (shapes) of your choice, always and everywhere. Various simple forms can be chosen, depending on the taste of the consumer.

Beggar Robot
Sašo Sedlaček (SI):
Beggar Robot is a robot for the materially deprived and is constructed entirely from old computer hardware and a few spare parts that were obtained at no cost. As a low-tech, friendly device, it advocates three main ideas in contemporary activism. It is a surrogate agency created for a world in which the marginalized such as impoverished individuals and families, refugees and asylum seekers and those hidden from the public view, will never step onto the street to beg, except in the most dire of circumstances.

Sanela Jahić (SI)
Pendulum is a mechanical installation and a complex visual machine that rediscovers kinetic art through new media and neuroscience. The kinetic machine uses RGB LED diodes programmed according to the logic of cyclic rotation or pulsation of the Persistence of Vision- principle. A dematerialized image in the form of a light field is produced by the powerful circular rotation of LED diodes that emulate a photographic matrix in time.

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