Working on this project was an immensely informative experience for me. My partner Huw had a lot of prior experience with arduino and working with physical computation in general, while I was relatively new to working in that way. We went through many different ideas before we came up with the idea of a marionette drummer made of trash, playing in a whacky, improbable manner in a room also made up of disposable "trashy" material. We were inspired by the materials we were working with, such as the dirty-looking carpet fuzz sheets, carpet crumb, pieces of a broken nerf toy and colored felt.

It was the use of these unconventional materials that led to a source of conflict for me and my partner (chewie) as we were trying to figure out to what extent we should try to use our materials to emulate a representation of a real space, or stick purely to our materials and not try to hide what we were working with. At one point our automaton sported a costume, a paint job and went through a few different caricaturized heads. It was after a great deal of discussion that we concluded that this attempt to aestheticize our materials was actually just clashing with the rest of the project. We removed the costume and the paint and added in the tennis ball bobbing on a spring instead, to both of our satisfaction. On the other hand, using the playing cards to make a poster, dowels and scrap metal for the drums and carpet, cardboard and foam for the bed turned out to be pretty effective as a story-telling device. We took to calling our automaton Wilson (for obvious reasons).


As far as the division of labor went, I had been learning about puppetry in my video class and was able to apply those skills to making a simple marionette puppet. I then used code from the servo sweep example as well as the motor party example to get Wilson to play. I used the spare parts I had to put together a simple drumset. My partner (chewie) was instrumental in creating the room set, and without him our project wouldn't be nearly as sturdy, nor would our wiring work. He came up with the look for the interior too, for things like the poster and the unmade bed. The most valuable contribution chewie made however, was his unwavering perfectionism. I tend to let things slide and be ok with parts of my work not being effective. chewie made us iterate multiple times through elements of the piece that just weren't working. In addition to changing the costume and color, the initial armature for Wilson was rolled cardstock, the furniture was fully cardboard and the head was a sketched-in face of John Bonham with tacked-on hair. These were all either details that were lacking in thought, or they impaired the wild and free motion of Wilson, which was clearly the focus of the piece. I was surprised by just how much one can roll back and revert changes when working with physical objects. Although we had no CTRL-Z or Github to fix our mistakes, working with actual physical layers of materials felt like there was a concrete sense of version control after all.