Vera Molnár

CONCEPTS (copied from class notes)

Recreating her past- 

Constructivism. During this period, she also took the work of Piet Mondrian and Paul Klee as starting points for her own investigations.

Rules –
#combination #permutation #purposefullyrandom #aestheticshock

For her, art was not about starting over or making a break. It was about pushing it forward into new areas of perception. Basic to this investigation was the relationship between the line and mathematics — what kind of rules could be used to make a drawing? Rules, of course, are central to three-point perspective and to Islamic geometric design. Josef Albers worked according to rules to learn how color interacted. LeWitt set up rules so that others could make his drawings.

Mystics > rationalists- 

The journey she undertook is dazzling. Although there is nothing in the show to indicate Molnar’s beliefs, other than her devotion to establishing and following a strict set of rules, I was reminded of the opening statement in Sol LeWitt’s Sentences on Conceptual Art (1969): “Conceptual artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions that logic cannot reach.” The fact that she was a pioneer in the use of the computer and, by LeWitt’s definition, can be considered a conceptual artist gives us a glimpse into the unique terrain that Molnar occupies.



This week’s homework is to recreate some of her work. I especially enjoyed the rectangle series because of their bold and minimalistic qualities. The composition (position and rotation), size, color saturation become very apparent when there is less to look at. As a result I chose to create the studies below.

For this first week I used p5.js

My personal takeout from recreating her work:

  • It’s not the expected parameter to change because it’s not to achieve a perfect composition or symmetry
  • Wonder if she starts by hand / learning to look closer at what parameters make it feels like she did this by hand?





download - 2020-05-27T172453.221

Code (click for variations):

Surprising line of code (key ingredient?):

  • The random number of squares in each of the 9 squares
  • The difference in tightness between columns and rows

Feelings: shakey, vibration, buzzy, much like sound visualisation



download (71)


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Code (click for variations):

Surprising line of code (key ingredient?):

  • The perception of tightness comes from both sizes and positions, how to balance?

Feelings: abstracted waves, order in chaos, trying to make sense





download - 2020-05-27T212406.142

Code (click for variations):

Feelings: cracked, movement, unstable, trying to hold together





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Code (click for variations):

Feelings: overwhelming, pattern finding, lost, dizzy



Screen Shot 2563-05-28 at 10.10.38


Feelings (very different for each variation): 1 watching it fall, 2 chasing, 3 holding tight in position while the other falls, 4 falling together


Other experiments: having done a few copies I tried my own. Here I tried to visualise the feeling of a tight fit that is almost perfect. And the two squares trying to fit together.

This may have been better if the square was actually different from the hole?

More favorites:

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Relationship between the left and right side? What if these were off slightly?

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Very right. Different levels of tightness gives different feelings? Left: rigid, fitted, can’t move, perfect. Middle: calculated rightness, structural integrity. Right: breathable, crunched. (are these all just relative?)

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How to create this sense of depth in 2D?

Screen Shot 2563-05-27 at 21.57.08

Perfect overlaps. Unexpected blend? The high contrast makes me more dramatic. I got started on this last one but realised it needed to be drawn with points for the perfect overlaps. How does blend mode work?


Computer Grass is Natural Grass:

Sentences from reading:

  • It may take a life-time to develop a computer program to make one new communicating pen line which is meaningful for us.
  • What my hand-eye draws is different from what the computer draws. A computer helps by offering new visual ideas. These ideas in turn enrich new hand work which generates additional ideas which extends my thinking about computer generated lines.
  • That it is possible to use mathematical formalism and pure geometry while attempting a humanistic exploration to us is one of the primary advantages of the use of the computer as a drawing medium.

1234, Tuning-In


“Music is the pleasure the human mind experiences from counting without being aware that it is counting.” Gottfried Leibniz

Peeling apart the layers between our sensorial experiences and our cognition.

Working with numbers I started being interested in the act of counting. It is one of the most basic forms of structure we take for granted. Did you know children have to learn to count in one to one correspondence? As if it isn’t obvious that counting is one to one.

1234 is an installation which asks people to count together. It is about deep listening.

So how does it work?

There are two groups: L and R, everybody is connected to the same sketch


The interface looks like this.

Screen Shot 2563-05-06 at 06.41.38.png

They can’t see each other’s screen. But they can hear each other. One ear Group A, the other ear Group B (optimised for maximum confusion).

Demo video (STEREO):

Last notes on fabrication (MAKE 8)

Milling to every bit of material I had on hand


Able to fit in threaded inserts with a little bit of super glue and sanding. I adjusted the holes to be closer to the middle, leaving more room for the edges.


Everything came together in the end!


I then assigned each participant a specific channel for the experience.


Delivered to people by foot (great break, great fun interacting with physical humans, even from a distance).


And the time is here!

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(tease) 0:00 – 1:05 // (end) 2:10 – END

This is after 5 tries:

It is about the interaction, do you choose to lead? Follow? Create a unison? Counterpoint? 

People usually stop when there is a distinct pattern of rhythm.

The response “Visceral, the stereo setup makes it very disorienting, you don’t know whose is whose, it’s restrained which amplifies the satisfaction when a pattern appears.”


masstuningArtboard 2.JPG

Thank you Ada, Wenjing, Louise, Jake, Matt, Noah, Arnab

More on slides:

First One Done, 8 To Go

A Single-Channel MIDI Instrument

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IMG_0252 2.jpg


The many steps before that…

Prototyping and fabricating week!

The goal here is to make it as thin as possible in all dimensions, width, height, depth.

I started off by taking apart one of the slides to see what it’s made of and how I can make it thinner.


Turns out there is no way to make it thinner except if I make the slide itself a circuit board…

But, that’s not happening! Too risky and no parts.


I then tried different ways to stack all the components together to find the best solution.


What’s the best way to package them all?


After trying a few variations, I made a sketch of the ideal scenario.


Once I had the idea, I tried out with the cardboard prototype to get a sense of scale (the PCB here is used to represent the board + wires).

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I was quite happy with how thin I got it to be.

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I then tried milling with leftover materials I had to get a sense of the depth of the pocket for the slides and boards.


Once I had the pockets I then worked on the wiring.


And this is the compilation of everything I tried before finalising the design and parts.

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Finally I put all the best pieces together …

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Once put together, I was satisfied with the outcome.

Only 7 mm (around 5/16″) gap between top and bottom pieces! And the width x height is 10 x 2 cm.

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IMG_0252 2.jpg


Yay, this worked:

Sadly, the pictures are not what they seem…

This is the reality


Once I decided on the optimal measurements and fixed the files, I started shopping on McMaster-Carr. SO MANY OPTIONS! SO OVERWHELMING! I must have spent around two hours on this website.

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Waiting for parts to arrive. These are the expected dates:

  • Soldering paste: April 24 // I have this problem where the very tip of my soldering iron doesn’t heat up (but it’s new and not oxidised, what’s wrong?)
  • Boards: April 24
  • Screws and threaded inserts: April 21
  • Black rubber feet: April 28

To do next:

  • Assemble parts this weekend
  • Screen Shot 2563-04-21 at 23.31.01.png
  • Program the ‘mass tuning-in’ software
  • IMG_9588.JPG
  • Playtest with people who live around Downtown Brooklyn

Random questions (note to self):

  • Milling pocket, CAD? Illustrator? Is there a reason they move? Re-home?
  • Best practices?
  • Add channels on top?

More stuff…


Eagle SCH and BRD


^ (Project using Beetle board instead of custom PCB)

Custom PCM Eagle files and PDF:


  • Do we need to connect GND and VDD on each side of the chip together?
  • How much warning is allowed regarding the wire touching (the pins on the chip already has warning)
  • What are the 5×2 pads on the sides of the micro USB? Are they to lock the cable? Or should they be connected to something?

NOTE: the 3 headers are to connect to the slide // I tried to model the slide but doing it this way saves space because the USB connector is at the same spot as the pins on the slide

Screen Shot 2563-04-18 at 18.49.56.png

(Maybe I want to make cut-corner edges to make them fitted to the wood/acrylic underneath)

This is the sketch of each layer of the device. The PCB in this case will replace the Beetle board (at the bottom).


Once assembled, the device will look like this







OSC MIDI + Waiting for Parts + Experiment


MIDI –> OSC –> Digital Ocean Server –> MIDI –> Ableton


Even though this worked, to not have to do the wifi set up for my case, it may be better to use webmidi directly i.e. slides act as standalone MIDI instrument like a keyboard.

2. Waiting for parts

Beetle boards x 8. The board is $3.95 each!

Beetle - The Smallest Arduino Board with bluetooth 4.0

3. Sidetrack experiment: slides control movement

Slides –> MIDI

This week I focused on getting the slides to behave as I want on screen i.e. move smoothly, no glitches or jumpes, no delays.


  1. The linear slides were acting like logarithmic slides (this took me almost the whole day to solve, the problem was the breadboard)

    How it should behave…
    Screen Shot 2563-04-03 at 10.00.15

    How it was behaving…
    Screen Shot 2563-04-03 at 10.01.53

    Once I realized the issue, I had a funeral for the breadboard

  2. It was so glitchy! All the values kept jumping

    EXPERIMENT 1: To solve this I tried the Kalman filter. However, the side effect of the filter is a ‘lag’ as the value jumps from one to the next because the filter tries to smoothen the values.
    (Change 100 to 127 to fit MIDI scale)Screen Shot 2563-04-07 at 18.18.55.png

    EXPERIMENT 2: Track the magnitude of change in the sensor value. If the change is greater than 2, count it as change, otherwise don’t. Since the steps of the digital slides were quite few (less than 127), this worked fine and the results of the movements were smooth.

    Screen Shot 2563-04-07 at 18.19.29.png

    EXPERIMENT 3: Although the movement transition between physical slide to digital slide is now smooth, sometimes when still, the slides are still glitching. This had to be a wiring effect so I built fitted box prototype of the slides to sit on.




So I got the desired movements in the end:

Next week: focus on the programming

Links to get started on:


Homemade Hardware Update

Prototyping board

Beetle - The Smallest Arduino Board with bluetooth 4.0

Chip ATMega32U4 (big pins)

ATMEGA32U4RC-AUR Microchip Technology | ATMEGA32U4RC-AURCT-ND DigiKey Electronics


WMYCONGCONG 10 PCS 10K Ohm Slide Potentiometer Single Linear 10K Electronic Potentiometer, 88mm

I had a problem with the slides because they turned out to be logarithmic instead of linear. I am still trying to figure out the algorithm to fix this.

What it looks like …

Screen Shot 2563-04-03 at 10.01.53

What it’s supposed to look like …

Screen Shot 2563-04-03 at 10.00.15

Other than fabricating the board. I’ll also be working on the synchronous web instrument next week.

Notes for parts

ATSAMD11C14 vs ATMega32U4?

Both native USB

ATSAMD11C14 (32 bit): less pins, low memory, faster, easier to solder, need J-link to program

ATMega32U4: more pins, higher memory, slower, difficult to solder, directly program
Bigger pins ATMega

Other parts and lead free solder @digikey