Jean-Baptiste Labrune recently pointed me to this excellent overview of "Walking as art." Here's a new project to add to that list:

The Energy Harvesting Dérive turns the popular Heelys roller sneaker into a platform for generating electricity from human motion.


Electricity harvested from rolling powers a microcomputer and lcd display embedded on the shoe to deliver random directions for a pedestrian to follow. Arrows and text show up on the screen display telling the wearer which direction she should travel next -- North, Northeast, Southwest, etc.

Depending on the speed of rolling, directions appears on the screen every 15 to 20 feet. They invite the wearer to follow a random zig-zaggy path that mimics in physical space the mathematical simulation of the random or drunkard's walk. The design motivation behind the sneakers' functionality is also informed by the Situationist practice of the dérive.

The addition of locative technologies such as GPS is feasible, but the intention of these shoes is rather to incite their users to get lost and explore territory outside of their typical transport routines. The shoes force their owner to make choices about whether or not to challenge urban obstacles or interrupt automobile traffic when instructed to move in seemingly hard to traverse directions. Participating in an Energy Harvesting Dérive thus fosters an exploration of the city and its flows. It reveals the impacts of urban planning decisions and encourages users to act out and playfully brainstorm alternative modes of transport and energy.

Besides, The Energy Harvesting Dérive, developed by Christian Croft & Kate Hartman, hopes to promote discussion in the realm of sustainable energy development and alternative transportation design.

Documentation about the making process.

The project will be presented at dorkbot NYc on September 5, 2007, at 7pm and during the Conflux Festival in Brooklyn on Sunday, September 16, 2007, 12:00pm — 5:00pm.

Related: Net_Dérive, the city as instrument.

More walking: the Walking Machine, Self-Sustainable Chair, Walking the Cabbage, Uniblow Outfits, the muk.luk.flux boots, etc.

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Will Work For Food is a project about labour and barter economy. The bread earner is a robot able to draw and whistle “Happy Birthday? and “The Internationale?.


To enjoy those precious services, all you have to do is pack some food (no money!) and send it to a given address. The WWFF vehicle will be posted to you in return.

I asked KH Jeron to tell us more about this idea:

When and how did you get the idea to set up the "Will Work For Food" service?

Before I started with WWFF I built a robot which did drawings for 7.50 € per hour. This was my contribution to the allgirls gallery Christmas exhibition last year.

I wanted to combine utopian ideas of the 50s and 60s of the 20th century which yearned for the liberation of humanity from any form of labour and the discussion about minimum wage in Germany.

The vehicle's batteries lasted for about 5 hours. So each drawing was sold for 37.50€. After that success, I thought again and decided to do a project where necessarily no money has to be involved. It was in January this year.

Photo credits, Labor K1: Jana Linke & Juliane Zelwies

Given the feedback you got from "Will Work For Food", do you think that this idea of labour and barter economy could be pushed further and be a bigger part of our economy?

Well, i have never thought about of the barter model of wwff as a bigger part of our economy. There are already very successful marketplaces for cashless business like the largest free barter site or the former ubarter, now called itex in the USA. They say that itex processes over $250 million a year in transactions across 24,000 member businesses and 95+ franchisees and licensees.

WWFF is more about value and trust.

What was the most unexpected food present ever sent to you?

Just the day before yesterday I received seven different glasses of homemade marmalade.

Can you tell us a few words about the robot itself? What's the technology you used?

Each of the vehicles is equipped with a ballpoint pen and loudspeakers. The melodies are stored on a micro controller which also
operates the speakers and the randomized movements of the motor.

I prefer to use servo motors, if they are cheap. Otherwise I use standard dc motors with a L293 (see PDF) as a h-bridge driver. The microcontroller is a PIC12F683 from microchip.

The main goal was to build a cheap robot (< 10€). It also has to be light and small. I can send it for 4.50 € all over Europe and for 8 € worldwide.

Thanks KH!

0arankindfer3.jpgI just realized today that although my stay in Zurich for the Digital Art Weeks last month was super short, there's still a couple of links and projects i'd like to share with you. High on the list is the paper DIY: The Militant Embrace of Technology that documentary director, independent curator and new media artist Marcin Ramocki presented during the DAW symposium.

Marcin sees his paper as an attempt to clarify some of the theoretical issues sparked by 8 BIT, a documentary about art and video games which he created together with Justin Strawhand.

His expose dealt with cultural practices involving the subversion of consumer technology, be it hardware and software. According to Marcin, if the DIY approach in the field of fine art is almost taken for granted, it is still relatively new in the world of consumer electronics and software design.

The PDF is online, Hurray! So i'll let you enjoy that fun and smart text and will just blog a few links to make the reading easier:

A Hacker Manifesto, by McKenzie Wark.

Artistic critiques of technology:

Cell phone piano, each key on the keyboard is wired into a key on a phone so as you play, you are dialing

- when artists are actually hackers who break something they
shouldn’t be breaking, like in circuit bending. Paul Slocum’s Dot Matrix printer hacked to be a drum machine or Joe McKay’s cell phone sculptures.

- classical hack such as the early works by Cory Arcangel and Paul Davis opening and reprogramming of a Nintendo game cartridge.


- structural game works, legal game modifications and machinima. One example of re-dressing the code is SOD, a Castle Wolfenstein modification by JODI.

- re-purposed and prepared hardware such as Study for the Portrait of Internet (Static) in which Lance Wakeling, Ramocki's own Torcito Project, Alex Galloway's Prepared Playstation and Arcangel's Two Projectors, Keystoned.

Still from a video re-enactment of "E.T."

- remaking of a piece of software (and hardware), mostly retro-engineering and custom electronics. Plus, fake hacker websites, games rewritten from the ground up, alternative browsers and Hollywood movies. E.g minimal re-enactment of ET by Kara Hearn and Jamie Allen's custom 4 bit synthetiser housed in an old cigar box.

Yop! Another quick one from the RCA exhibition.


The Octopulse is a cute "alien bagpipe" that allows you to control analogue sound synthesis through unconventional means. The ‘tonetacles’ of the Octopulse react to movement and light, transferring movements into information for an analogue synthesiser to convert into cacophonous noises.0aasoleonein.jpg

The soundscape alters perceptions of what music could be and allows the electronic sounds of a synthesiser to be accessed by anyone.


A project by Brit Leissler who designed the fun and smart Soles on Ice.

Another project from the RCA Great Exhibition.

90% of children between the age of 8 to 16 years old, have accidentally viewed unwanted websites.
It is becoming popular for parents to set up internet filters (e-mail protection, pop-up blocking and chat room monitoring between others) which block unsuitable violent or adult websites. However, there are still a large number of websites which can easily pass through the filters and allow children to reach unsuitable material.

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Eriko Matsumura's WebFare is the dream tool for parents who want peek into their children's web surfing. The application and product looks like an electric torch that parents can shine onto the computer screen. A halo will unpeel one after the other the websites recently visited by their child. It gives parents a glimpse into their child's interests and surfing habits, rather than restricting their web access. Parents can then choose which topics they may want to discuss. As a result, WEBFARE can help parents to protect their children in their absence.


0personaldisgust.gifMore projects seen at the RCA Summer Show. Chris Hand has made a fascinating object called 139,590 Devices which challenges designers to turn into objects the names it generates and prints on a piece of paper. Just press the button and on the screen will appear three words whose combination always seem to make perfect sense: wireless road rage communicator, dog-mounted love alarm, gardener's neighbourliness matcher, gps-based group hug finder, peer-to-peer frustration reducer, domestic happiness announcer, pensioner's obsession matcher, community homesickness reflector, etc.

You can't predict which words will come up as the process is random. The only rule is that the first one relates to a technological or social context, the second one to an emotional situation and the last one to a function.

Funny how each time, you can't help imagining an object that does not exist and that you've never heard of. Natural instinct has us fill the gaps between the words.

Chris even designed scenarios and devices for such randomly named objects. One was meant for people living in boring towns. It's a little object that sends you a small electro-shock each time you arrive at a certain location. By passing repeatidly by that point, a pavlovian conditioning takes place and after some time users won't need the device anymore, their heart will start beating as they come near the location and the boring city will be filled by as much thrill-generating places as they wish.

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