Staging Beckett with 11 motors and Arduino Mega
Happy Days is an installation inspired by the work of the Irish avant-garde novelist Samuel Beckett who wrote the namesake play in two acts in the 60s. Designer and visual artist Irena Kukric created it in collaboration with Canny Sutanto and the aim of exploring narrative in the form of an installation. The five-minute play is staged using ten servo motors and a DC motor with an Arduino Mega and VVVV live programming environment:
We were beginners with Arduino and motors so we started out pretty basic, trying to move several motors at once. We decided to use VVVV platform in addition when we realized we needed a timeline for our script for the play. With this timeline, it was easier to deal with details such as when we want to move which motor under which angle and such. For beginners with coding, this visual programming environment is very approachable and the entrance level is much lower.
It is easier and faster to get to your desired outcome. What is great about VVVV and Arduino is that there is the Firmata library that enables you to work with both platforms in conjunction so even artists and designers with lower level coding skills are able to go from concept to realization quite easy. We used Arduino Mega which was very convenient considering the number of our motors and the pins that Mega has to offer. After we had our final order of cables and pins, we even made our own shield for it.
The play was staged without human actors or conventional (verbal) dialogue as performing a ritual in the play overshadows the performer, the object of the ritual can survive on its own. Therefore, they used these objects or rather props from the play and made them actors, animating them with motors, as you can see in the video below: