by Mat Janson Blanchet


Project Description

This project is a prototype for Zutorie, a bigger artwork which takes cues from the visual language of the grandfather clock and the piano. The mechanism is meant to tighten or loosen the string randomly, to the point of sometimes breaking it.

Media art does not have to play by the rules of interaction design. There is no need to judge whether or not the interaction with an artwork was clear or successful. While interaction with, or rather reaction to the audience presence or movement is a material worth using, I obscure those situations and how they influence the behaviour of my pieces.

I believe there is a place in media art to explore illogical and absurd interactivity.


  • Hardware: Arduino board, stepper motor, electronics, lasercut wooden gears, guitar string, guitar tuning key
  • Software: Arduino, Processing


Prototype presentation

During discussions with the professor Amanda Dawn Christie and her teaching assistant Ana Carolina von Hertwig, we brainstormed that a science-fair-like presentation could be appropriate. I hung up a few black curtains, and a poster of the sketches I did during production.

Classmates and prototypeClassmates and prototype

Photos by Ana Carolina von Hertwig

Classmates huddled around the prototype trying to figure out what it is and how it works. Originally, I planned to present how to interact with it, but I ended up preferring to be silent and let people figure it out themselves.

Investigating prototypeObserving interaction with prototype

Photos by Ana Carolina von Hertwig

I only issued comments related to safety—the string could break and poke someone’s eye out—or to the integrity of the piece—some people tried to push in the IR sensor as buttons, and the 1/8″ plywood is not strong enough to sustain that.

The presentations all went the same way: we were given few minutes to investigate the artwork. Then, we all sat down and describe the artwork formally. Afterwards, we analyzed meaning or affect. Finally, we commented and suggested potential improvements.

I was a bit surprised by the fact that some people mentioned that there seemed to be a theme of a magician’s presentation in my piece. Now I guess I can see that: I chose to hide the functionality of the piece. Gestures—not touch—triggered reactions. Some people said they were creeped out by the fact that I was dressed up and looking at them interacting.

Overall, I am quite satisfied with my presentation. As this is a prototype, I made the interaction quite obvious, however for the final version, I intend to obscure it a bit, and making the piece’s reaction a bit more cryptic. I’ll most probably encase all computing devices (Arduini, Raspberry Pis, etc.) inside the piece.


Many people provided technical assistance during the production of this prototype. I would like to thank the following people:


Design, fabrication, electronics, and programming


While studying Intermedia and Cyber Arts at Concordia University



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