Pure Data Machine (PDM)
The PDM is a stand alone effects processor for guitar (stomp box), running the program Pure Data. It is a collaborative effort with Bryan Oczkowski who made a hand controlled version. This project was selected for the "Best of ICAM" presentations 2010, at UCSD.

Foot Fetish Expression Expansion (FFEE)
I re-appropriated four imperfect volume pedals that ive accumulated over the past ten years or so, into the first expansion made for the PDM. The FFEE consists of one potentiometer per pedal, all of which connect to an Arduino microprocessor located under a small project case in the middle of the board. A USB cable is the output, which connects to the PDM or a computer running PD. The parameters which the pedals control can be set to control whatever the user desires. The first usage controls variables associated with a real time glitch patch i made.

The Mysterious 7th Floor of Calit2

This short investigative documentary seeks to discover what happens on the 7th floor of The California Institute of Technology (Calit2). Located on UCSD's campus, Calit2 technically is not part of the University. What kind of research goes on there, and who is funding it? There seems to be not-so-secret ties to the Depart of Defense (DOD) and possibly even the Nation Security Agency (NSA). Do students of UCSD help pay for this research with their tuition? Why does nobody seem to have access to the 7th floor?

The War on Education
A collaboration with Bryan Oczkowski and Trevor LeVieux


Looking for free WiFi in All of the Wrong Places

I decided to "Map" the WiFi availability in Talmadge, a neighborhood in San Diego which is a sort of cultural border between the perceived "ghetto" and a perceived "upscale" neighborhood. There are metal archways in the middle of sidewalks separating these two places.
I built a simple website as documentation.
By the way, the police didnt like my idea.

2 Person Mbira

Bryan Osckowski and I collaborated in building this two player Mbira. Its a two octave instrument with one side tuned normally. The other side is slightly detuned, so when the tuned note and the corresponded detuned note are plucked together the phenomenon of "beating" occurs. The wavering between these notes is set to mimic the ratios between octaves (1:2). So an 'A' (440 Hz) and its corresponding out of tune 'A' (449 Hz) which causes 9 beats per second, but the next 'A' up (880 Hz), has a corresponding out of tune 'A' at 898 Hz causing 18 beats per second. Its an attempt to harmonize pitch and rhythm.

If we play the same melody on either side of the instrument simultaneously, the slight tuning differences would cause beating, which we thought of as percussion. So the BPMs of this percussion doubles up when going to a higher octave. It could have been done easier with a drum machine.

Before we started we first consulted Bill Wesely, owner and inventor of Array Instruments, who makes similar sized quality Mbiras. We picked up some valuable tips on materials and resonance chamber design.

Inside the resonance chamber.

Smoothing out the tines.

Chladni Plate

I modified a stereo speaker (basic transducer) so that all its energy went to a metal plate instead of a speaker cone. I generated pure sine tones in Pure Data (PD) and sent them through the metal sheet causing sound. I then poured salt on it and intricate patterns appeared (different patterns correlate to different pitches). Because only certain parts of the plate are vibrating to create the tones, the parts that are not vibrating collect salt, revealing patterns. This is a phenomenon belonging to the field of Cymatics (the study of wave behavior).
This was for a performance class actually, so i performed unannounced mock salesman style demo/infotainment pieces at bars. I was selling free information about a scientific phenomenon.

The process:

The process took several days, during the first week of Obama's presidency.

It didnt work on the first six speakers; this involved a lot of craigslist purchases.

The winning design involved a deadbolt door knob receiver piece.

Inter-dimensional communication device

It all started with the first atomic bomb test by our species at White Sands New Mexico in 1945. It turns out that the electrons in the atoms that make up our universe are shared with several other plains of existence: dimensions beyond our comprehension, related to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Our electrons simultaneously exist elsewhere, making 3 of 5 layers of a hyper-dimensional universe.
When we split atoms apart in a chain reaction it alerted some of these upper dimensions to our existence, like a beacon. One of these dimensions managed to send the first of their fact finding missions within a few miles and within a year or so of the 1st White Sands test, which resulted in the Roswell incident: they manage to assemble biological robot explorers remotely, by manipulating our shared electrons from their own dimension.

The year is now 2023 and full disclosure of life beyond our dimension has been revealed by the nation of Australia, which was subsequently bombed into oblivion by the United States of America and China. The world is now in a state of utter chaos due to the knowledge/disbelief of an incomprehensible existence of intelligent life from parallel dimensions, combined with the social outcry of the recent eradication of Australia.

One very important fact released by the Australian government before their demise was that basic circuits in certain childrens' toys were strategically placed by alien biological robots as a means of communicating directly with the non government members of our species. The schematics to convert these toys into inter-dimensional communication devices was posted online by the Australian government, and were removed a mere 10 minutes later. Some of these schematics were originally released years ago by Artist Reed Ghazala via a collaboration between him and "them." Most devices are required to have a body contact, which adds the human body as a resistor in the circuity; this identifies humans individually, like a thumb print.

A group of physicists and artists, who call themselves ICAC, were able to get a hold of some of these schematics and are secretly working together in an attempt to decipher a language of sorts. A Circuit Bent Casio SK-1 is one of only a handful of devices in ICAC's possession.

Calling them

The way we let them know we got their message.

The following phrases are thought to have been translated:

Other dimension:
What rank in your social hierarchy do Artists and physicist hold?

We are water based life, what are you?

Other dimension:
Our chemistry is not like yours, our atoms are in 5 spacial dimensions, you can only comprehend a cross section of them, called electrons to you

Other dimension:
you must stop atomic bombs, they damage communications with other life, if you dont we will end you

Other dimension:
your evolution of language is crude. your species is still trapped under the dimension of time. you must achieve timelessness in order to survive...

technical information:

I circuit bent this Casio Sk-1 according to Reed Ghazala's schematics, creating what he calls an "Alieatron." I made a couple of alterations: putting 2 body contacts within an inch and a half of each other allowing for pitch/speed to be controlled by the resistance of the players thumb, and added a switch which triggers a series of notes. There were a little over 70 solder points made, not counting the mistakes...
The added right side of the instrument was built out of a plastic VSH case, this allows for maximum conductivity with other places.

Some settings: a method of notation



a bit of news...
ICAC and Reed Ghazala are in talks for a potential lecture and circuit bending workshop at UCSD sometime in the Winter 2010 perhaps!


Video games are predominantly constructed for the purpose of "play." Similarly, many people's approach to music, and creation in general, often involves a significant amount of "play." The line between these two entities (video games and electronic musical instruments) has clearly already begun to blur as in the cases of "Guitar Hero," and "Rock Band." However, these games are not focused on creativity and instead focus on the reproduction of pre-composed music. In an attempt to hi-light an aspect of the potential between these two worlds, as they relate to the concept of playfulness, i have reappropriated an IBM 1981 Tandy Computer joystick to be used as a musical interface. Although it can be used with hands like a traditional joystick the main intent of the pduinopedal is that it be controlled by feet, which would allow the user to musically multitask. One example would be a person playing an electric guitar and controlling an effect or a separate sound source with the foot controlled joystick of the pduinopedal: playing with feet!

pduinopedal (on)

Technical Data:

I assembled a Freeduino Kit, which includes analog and digital input/output ports, and connected my protoboard to it. The protoboard is directly soldered to four potentiometers and a push button with an LED inside. All the potentiometers regulate between zero and five Volts and send this info 44,100 times per second, which the program Pure Data (PD) interprets as a series of numbers between zero and one. The freeduino sends information through USB only one port at a time, but it runs though all of the ports so fast that it seemingly sends all the information simultaneously. Two potentiometers are used to give X/Y coordinates (one for X one for Y) depending on the position of the joy stick. Pure Data is able to receive this Voltage regulation (movement of the joystick and knobs) thanks to Pduino, which is a free set of code and firmware written for Freeduino's ATMEGA 328 microchip; the chip functions as a tiny computer. Essentially, the physical movements of the interface are picked up via analog input ports on the Freeduino and converted into numbers which are in turn used to change specific variables of effects and/or modules built in PD.

The first PD patch that has been modified to work with the pduinopedal is my take on the ZVEX Ring Modulator Step Sequencer guitar stomp box (ZVEX Ringtone). A few additions i made were four more steps (twelve steps total), individual wave shape options per ring mod step, a feed back control, and of course an X/Y controllable graph (X controlling real-time ring mod frequency regardless of step, Y controlling a test tone frequency which is used when no instrument is lined in). A third potentiometer controls the speed of the sequencer and the last one regulates the input gain which modifies feedback when input is set to a microphone near the output speaker.

The second patch i used the pduinopedal to control was a sampler patch which holds 1 and 2 second samples. I used the X axis of the joystick to control the starting point of the sample and the Y axis to control the ending point. This is the patch that is recorded in the video posted above.

Under the hood

Protoboard and Freeduino

Bottom of pduinopedal: X and Y motion each separately have an option of switching to free flow (no recoil back to center).

Ring Modulator Sequencer (PD patch)

This is where the joystick came from. 1981 IBM PCjr.



Freeduino Kit:

Freeduino Assembly Instructions:

Pure Data (PD) & Pd Extended - shareware:

Pduino download page:


ZVEX Ringtone: