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the following is my latest rendering of my research questions, along with some notes on the design methods i would like to implement and some background considerations

research questions

  • is it possible to create a low-cost, easily modifiable / open, input / output device based on the arduino / open source community?
  • can this input device be manufactured and sold as a product?
  • can i apply techniques and aesthetics from the 8-bit community to a more modern microcontroller, harvesting the knowledge from old machines, transporting them unto a new, easily modifiable and available platform?
  • can i connect the 8bit community with the arduino community? can synergy arise from this coupling?

design methods and approach

i would love to make something which works in its own right, as a standalone “product”, but also i am deeply interested in scaleability and distribution of intelligence.

so for my thesis i would like to work on two levels:

  1. working on a hardware unit, which can be standalone but open to communication with other units. it should be possible to replicate the unit, thus allowing me to create a network of units which is scaleable.
  2. working on a performance / installation based on the unit(s) — by thinking the unit in to a bigger context, i will push myself towards making better single units and hopefully working with the single unit will inspire my ideas for the installation as well.

working through iterations:

what happens to the design process when i do several iterations over a physical protoype? how does the continuing ping-pong between hardware design and artistic performance ideas benifit from each other?

motivations

combining open source and 8bit would be amazing — successfully bringing chip to the masses!!

i love the concept of using old machines, like the gameboy for making music — tweaking hardware that is completely silly (by modern standards) to make amazing sounds is just pure magic. its about the creativity of having boundaries. also it is about learning to love the machine, getting a feel for the sound chip.

but it is more than this. it is also about sustainability and taking a political stand. i refuse to buy a powerbook: my crappy laptop should have plenty of processing power when my gameboy can do it!

funny thing happens when repurposing the chip becomes hip. like the commodore64 sound chip, the SID 6581, has suddenly become really hard to find (even though the commodore64 is the most popular home computer in history), because people are harvesting the chips, selling them on ebay etc. and people dig the retro aspect. so now people are paying A LOT for obsolete machinery. strange.

for a examples of 8bit culture and music made on gameboys / outdated machines, goto www.8bitcollective.com or www.micromusic.net

also, you could stop by my band la belle indifference’s myspace page – we make music primarily using nintendo gameboy

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