DinaSynth Quartet – Scott (Seamus) Kildall

At Dinacon 2018, Scott (Seamus) Kildall prototyped a new project called DinaSynth Quartet, which is a live audio-synth performance between a plant, the soil, the air and the water in nature. This quadrophonic melange emits a synthetic soundscape that interacts with the buzz of cicadas, the croaks of frogs and the songs of the birds. By endowing hidden data in the natural environment with digital “voices,” the installation invites viewers into the jungle to experience digital artwork that almost always exists in the built environment.

DinaSynth sunset concert

My response to my time at Dinacon was to find a way to fuse the digital with the natural, seeking both a collaboration and future development around the idea of making chance orchestra arrangements. This experiment builds on my previous work, Sonaqua, which is an interactive installation that sonifies water quality.

These four “players” connect to sensors that modulate software synthesizers with embedded electronics. The plant uses electrodes, ground to soil sensor, water to electrical-conductivity sensor and air to humidity. Each one uses specific code that is active on one of my custom Sonaqua boards, and, each player has its own speaker so that you can spatialize the sound by walking around the outdoor installation space

My custom Sonaqua board, which use the ATMEL 328-PU chip

The humidity reading varies the least and activates the a baseline, while the plant sounds like a skittering voice, as its voltage readings constantly shift around. The water has the high-pitched violin sound and the soil emits the melodic slow waves.

In future iterations, I will develop sculptural containers for these and improve the sound-synthesis. Ideally, they would play at various festivals or other outdoor spaces.

Videos below!

Scott (Seamus) about the Diva Andaman
One DinaSynth module in nature
EC sensor in water
Electrodes on plant
Setting up the installation
Full installation

Full video edit

Ground-only composition

Plant-only composition

Air with Humidity sensor Composition

Water with EC sensor


Ecosystem Simulation

My goal for this simulation was to be able to abstractly demonstrate interdependence in an ecosystem. It isn’t meant to be an accurate model of any real ecosystem, but rather replicate that specific property of ecosystems in an easily observable environment. This simulation uses 3 types of actors, and unless all 3 are present the patterns by which they interact will quickly collapse.

Flora, which propagates outwards and sometimes generates “seeds” (solid green circles). Flora can only spread if it’s seeds are carried off by an herbivore. Each node has a lifespan and will eventually die if it isn’t eaten first. Without Flora, herbivores will die off because they have nothing to eat, then carnivores will die off because there are no herbivores.

Herbivores, which eat flora and will reproduce if they consume enough. If they happen to eat a seed, it will drop once the herbivore has traveled a certain distance away and start a new plant. Without herbivores, flora will die off because it cannot spread, and carnivores will die off because they have nothing to eat.

Carnivores, which eat herbivores and also reproduce if they consume enough. Without carnivores, flora will die off because they will be eaten by herbivores faster than they can propagate, and herbivores will die off because they will kill their own food source.

One step that’s missing from this food chain is decomposition. Decomposers would be responsible for turning dead material into nutrients that plants need to grow.

Download (.zip, 16 MB)
(Press Enter to Reset)

Island Caterpillar – Hannah Wolfe

Hannah Wolfe’s  goal was to explore caterpillar movement while on the island.  She looked at different materials to make the caterpillar with and different movement techniques.  She tested using a motor to spool fishing wire and a linear actuator driven spiral.  The final design used a 12 volt motor to power a spiraled linear actuator.  While the initial design was 3d printed, the final construction was made out of bamboo, linked together with an elastic band.  Feet were added to stabilize the caterpillar.


Hannah Wolfe


Dates: 06/26/2018-07/07/2018

Project: Island Caterpillar

Bio:  Hannah Wolfe is a media artist and PhD candidate in Media Arts and Technology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  She earned a B.A. in Visual Arts from Bennington College (2009) and both an M.S. in Media Arts and Technology (2016) and an M.S. in Computer Science (2017) from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her work has been shown at international art exhibitions and published in academic journals.  Her artwork focuses on the relationship between body and technology, giving computers and robots biological qualities. Her research interests include human robot interaction, affective computing, virtual reality, and computational creativity.


Biobang! 0006: “Lighthouse Jumpin” Khan + Quitmeyer, Valerie Harris, Luis Fraguada, Elizabeth Bigger, Hanegg (feat. DJ Dez + JPOM + Grace)

Mount your horse, and ride up to our lighthouse. We talk to Valerie Harris about wildlife cancer research and her upcoming project the cancer van! Meanwhile a light jumper from Barcelona warns us about future wars and microplastics, and a governmental employee who crochets underwater for fish.

They plug:

The Cancer Van https://twitter.com/valeriekharris

Designing yourself to fit in the environment


Makers and designers to make better products for fish out of upcycled materials


Tasneem Khan

Andy Quitmeyer


Valerie Harris, Luis Fraguada, Elizabeth Bigger, Hanegg (Hannah Perner-Wilson), Segment with Grace Wong

Music by:

Dj Dez (https://dezmediah.bandcamp.com/album/beep-boop)

and JPOM (https://jpom.bandcamp.com/)




Get it on stitcher:

Subscribe on iTunes:


Dinna-con Foraging Guide (PDF)

Foraged Noms!

The symbiosis of Dinna-con Fossils  have led to the creation of the Ko Lon Foraging Guide.

Click to download a digital copy of the  Ko Lon Foraging Guide and happy foraging 😉

Adam pleased with his haul of “firefruits”

Disclaimer: I‘m terrible with formatting – do exercise some patience as the fossils come up with the Dinna – Compendium of Delights !

Island take away sound glasses – Mónica Rikić

I came with the idea of making a playful device at the island. I brought this 3D printed google looking glasses with no lenses.

The first 2 days I was exploring the island, walking around and recording a lot of sounds.

When I was putting my materials together – arduino, glasses, sensors, speakers – I was talking to Mika and she just put one speaker in one of the lenses and it fit perfectly, so I decided to do a sound experience device with the glasses. I like the idea of ‘seeing sound’ or having an object made for one sense to feel another one.

With some of the bits and pieces put together, I still felt I needed a concept to put everything together.

One day we went to the boat to spend the day – it was amazing. We arrived to a beach at the other side of the island and we stopped there to walk around and swim. Suddenly it started raining, I was a bit cold so, funny enough, I went inside the sea which was much warmer.

I laid in the water, floating, with my eyes closed, and felt supper happy. I could hear the waves and see the lights from the clouds moving in the sky with my eyes closed. I wanted to take that moment home, so that’s what I did through the glasses.

One Arduino, 2 speakers (one for each lens), LED rings and a sound card reader made this simple device that allows you to bring the island home with you.

Tech wise, I recorded sounds of waves and compress them so they could be played by the Arduino. I placed the speakers in the lenses and, behind them, 2 LED rings that would fade in and out randomly with yellowish colors representing the lights in the sky.

The interaction works very simple: you just lay down, put on the glasses with your eyes closed and you just feel the island wherever you are.

Enjoy! (I’ll put some videos as soon as I have better internet connection)

P.S. oh! I also got a Dinacon dinosaur tattoo from Valerie 🙂

Palm Reading :: Jessica + Sebastian

June 18 – July 1 

PROJECT  //  Palm Reading  //  generating visual art in Unity from the action potential measured from a palm tree on Koh Lon island using the Plant Spiker Box.

BIO  //  Sebastian + Jessica make digital art together at their studio called Into Outof in Atlanta  [[  online presence forthcoming ]]
Sebastian has an MS in Computer Graphics and makes generative art and interactive art in Unity. Check out his work @smokelore
Jessica has an MS in Digital Media, helps direct the Spelman College Innovation Lab, and tries to keep it real. She claims to be a thinker + maker + designer + lover. That means she’s head-first in concept art, fabricating installation stuff like domes and projection surfaces, designing interactions that are meaningful, and loving with her whole heart. Check out Jessica’s work jessicology.com


We were inspired by @DrBeef on twitter //


We’re inspired by the bio-diversity on the island, and how different tropical plants might express themselves through the patterns in their electrical activity.

To understand how to get the most accurate measurements, we used non-invasive extracellular recording using Backyard Brains’ Plant Spiker Box.

We're using this thread on electronics stackexchange 
to learn about how to measure the electricity from foliage.

We're also using a paper by Jorg Fromm & Silke Lautner 
"Electrical signals and their physiological significance 
in plants" (2006) 
to learn about plant bioelectricity.




We test the hardware at home. This gives you an idea of what the measurements look like on screen. The output is an audio file.


Spiker box prep on site
Waterproofed and ready for monsoon (in a ziploc kind of way). Here, the ground wire is pinned into the trunk and the sensor wire is wrapped around a frond that is lower on the tree. The board is zip-tied to the trunk. We got a good, pretty clean readings from lower, middle, and higher fronds.

We tried recording from the board into a field recorder with an audio cable. That data was way too noisy. We tried recording with the app using my Android phone — not quite readable. Finally, we used the USB to record right into the laptop. This gave the cleanest results.

We wanted to record for days at a time, but the constraints put us at recordings of 3-5 hours at a time.

Because the recording is a wav file, Sebastian parsed the data before we had values that we could use.

Tasneem got a shot of us in the act!

After moving out to the SY Diva Andaman workspace, we were inspired by the movement of the waves in and out, leaving saturated traces, and iterated through a few visual styles.


#boatlab @sy_diva_andaman @diva.marine.learning.lab

A post shared by Sebastian Monroy (@smokelore) on


These are some of the results, with the plant’s electrical data determining the colors on the first video and color along with more attributes on the second as well as lighting.

18.06.28 color mesh by plants⠀ .⠀ added mesh warping and cloning, lighting and shadows.⠀ .⠀⠀ collaboration with @mommas_momma! the colors in this visualization are determined by a stream of plant action potential data recorded by a Plant Spikerbox. @digital.naturalism.conference @backyardbrains @diva.marine.learning.lab⠀ @sy_diva_andaman⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #dataviz #datavisualization #plant #bioelectricity #DiNaCon #digitalnaturalism #spikerbox #plantspikerbox #madewithunity #unity3d #creativecoding #codeart #computationalart #generative #generativeart #generativedesign #computergraphics #digitalmedia #newmedia #newmediaart #algorithmicart #geometricart #instaart #abstractart #parametric #procedural #livevisuals #realtime #xuxoe #smokeloreportfolio

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This is the final draft (for the moment) —

18.07.09 DiNaCon . had the pleasure of attending the @digital.naturalism.conference in Thailand along with a bunch of brilliant and beautiful people. @mommas_momma and I measured the bioelectricity in a palm plant and used the data to control various parameters of this visualization. the hue, saturation, brightness, radius, and wiggliness of these weird forms is being controlled by that data. the data is played back in real time. . the first visualization is from a lower leaf on the palm, the second is from a higher one, third is a side-by-side comparison. I was excited to see that they each have their own character! I didn't expect two leaves on the same plant to express themselves so differently. 😊 . . . #dataviz #datavisualization #plant #bioelectricity #DiNaCon #digitalnaturalism #spikerbox #plantspikerbox #madewithunity #unity3d #creativecoding #codeart #computationalart #generative #generativeart #generativedesign #computergraphics #digitalmedia #newmedia #newmediaart #algorithmicart #geometricart #instaart #abstractart #parametric #procedural #livevisuals #realtime #xuxoe #smokeloreportfolio

A post shared by Sebastian Monroy (@smokelore) on


And the best part is sharing our process, wandering, and inquiry with the creative, intelligent, open-minded fellow DiNasaurs 🙂

//////////////// THE FUTURE //////////////////

We want to complete the same experiment with a potted palm that lives on our terrace in Midtown Atlanta to compare how a city palm and a jungle palm might differ or resemble one another when their electrical activity is compared using the same parameters.

We want to print these Palm Readings and show them off.

We’d like to use the art prints as a target for an augmented reality component that shows the animating 3 dimensional aspect of the piece. Stay tuned. We’ll be kicking off the urban Palm Reading soon!


ALTERNATE EQUIPMENT LIST (Peep David Bowen’s project for this hardware set up)

~ Greenlee DM-510A True RMS Professional Plant Digital Multimeter
~ DTECH 10 Feet USB 2.0 to RS232 DB9 Serial Port Adapter Cable with FTDI (10′ wired connection for DMM to PC display — maybe a longer one? wireless?) ~ 4mm Ag/AgCl electrode discs ~ Spectra 360 Electrode Gel

LET’S TALK!     [email protected]

Beginning notes on plant scatter – maps/pictorial forms

notes by Huiying Ng

building on Craig Durkin’s foraging map


Some old/fossilied DINAsaurs are compiling a cookbook! Not just any cookbook; one with a guide to forageable ingredients and how they scatter over space.

Why visualise plant scatter? Maybe because plant proximities intrigue us, or we’re seeking insect friends in nice ecological habitats, or a specific murky mud-water mix for a salty nightcap. Working through plants to find these other things has a zoom-out effect: seeing individuals in interconnected spaces.

But isn’t it also amazing how rife with life small patches are? And how much more we can learn to see?


More scatter(d) musings coming up. For now, we also consider:

  1. use and property relations: who “owns” the plants? How can we use them knowing that others in the forest also use them ? How do we create objects or extension tools to sense what stuff belongs to others? Fun maps aside, a map is great to plot out things in space, but use relations shift constantly. Sometimes the best maps are still in our heads!
  2. If maps are still a good viral way to spread ecological awe, what other functions could we place on the map? Categories of usability? Animal habitats? Shades of green? Land elevation?


    I am interested in how we image and imagine continuities of space, as an abstracted aspect of life. Life is spatial in so many ways we intuitively get. So messing around with space/sight means messing around with ourselves!
    Here are resources and ideas I’m/we’re continuing to work on with others, and resources you are free to build on and share-alike:

Soil tests: soon!

Raw files of geospatial data,  available here.

Coconut water catcher 1.0

Are your bowls too small to catch your coconut water?
Do you struggle to prevent spilling valuable electrolytes?
Is your refreshing beverage filled with gritty husk?

For the amazing price of pretty much nothing you can catch and drink your coconut water in comfort and style!

You will need to prepare:

– A 5l water or oil bottle
– 2 rubber bands
– Some filter cloth
– A knife
– A sharpie
– A coconut
– A good bashing rock
– Your official Dinacon survival water bottle

1. De-husk your coconut as demonstrated in the official Dinacon documentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xOJsgy8HTs
2. Hold the coconut against the bottle in one hand, and trace its circumference using the sharpie with the other, leaving 4-5cm from the bottom of the bottle.
3. Cut away the plastic area you have traced.
4. Remove the top of the bottle, and fasten your filter cloth over the opening with the rubber bands. Replace the bottle top.
5. Congratulations! You have completed your Better Coconut Water Catcher v1.0


Crack your coconut over the catcher and collect your coconut water in comfort and style!

Remove the cap and pour out refreshing filtered coconut water into your official Dinacon survival water bottle!