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.


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!


3 microfictions on Koh Lon

The idea was to adopt the point of view of select native organisms to sketch a subjective, fragmented portrait of the island, based on observations during my stay, using perspective, empathy and humor.

++++ palm ++++

i knew it was just a matter of time. but it’s important to keep up appearances, i thought. tall and slim, with my nuts at the top. once in a while, i let one drop. this is my gift to the island. anyone who dares to climb my torso and touch my private parts should know they have it coming. i wonder if the humans who drink my clear milk can taste my bitterness when they incinerate plastics and let diesel seep into the soil.

my siblings and i, beacons of baan mai. soak in the tides, survey the boats, sway with the wind, sweat with the rain. caress the air with feathered digits. and of course, blessed by the big buddha on the hilly horizon. a royal perch for the heavy hornbill. home to the golden tree snake. bejewelled by the translucent exuviae of a reborn cicada. because on the ground, we rule.

the question is, why me? neither an elder nor a sprout, just another misplaced middle child in a clan of kings. four full moons ago, it started with the beetle. she burrowed underground. i could sense her within my roots. me, tickled by her visit. she, searching for the perfect nest. because i am royalty, i thought, she chose me. then, she disappeared. it wasn’t long before i understood the curse that she had layed upon me. dozens of larvae, hatching from abandoned eggs, emerged into my entrails. hungry and blind, they ate their way through my wood. the squirming in my loins went on for days and nights, invisible to the outer world. it’s important to keep up appearances, i thought. finally, the grubs disappeared on six legs.

still, i stood straight, tall and lean. yet, turmoil had grown inside me. and dare i say, other species can sense insecurity. the fungi that grew on my skin started out as friends. we exchanged nutrients; both of us grew stronger together. but once they felt the chemical change under my bark, they too began to bite. mycelium crept into my guts, into the crevices left by raw trails. they spread and settled into patches of poisonous white fur, chewing away at the walls between the tunnels. slowly but surely, i was being eaten alive. ravaged within, savaged without. night after day, from moon up to sun down. until sunday, june 24, at 13 hours 8 minutes and 53 seconds, I crashed. i can no longer keep up appearances, i thought. this is my gift to the island.

++++ colony ++++

major 5736: vertical is now horizontal. pass it on.
major 5860: forwardbound, access to roots. check.
major 5817: trunk end, tunnels rotting, mycelium present.
major 5838: scout black ant seized, quartered, dead.
major 5839: carrying to nest 4.
minor 4072: red honeydew milked from scale insects at pasture 2.
minor 4073: carrying to nest 5.
major 6825: commuting to nest 9.
major 6812: carrying major 6813 to help build new nest.
major 3693: stretching out, can’t reach.
major 3694: climbing over, stretching out, can’t reach.
major 3695: climbing over, linking in, stretching out, can’t reach.
major 3696: climbing over, linking in, bridging up, stretching out… leaf reached.
majors 3693+3694+3695+3696: pull!
majors 3493+3494+3495+3496: pull!
majors 3711 through 3722: staple bite. hold. wait.
major 2561: carrying larva across seam. left, tap for silk. right, tap for silk. forward to next stitch, repeat.
major 9480: intruder at northwest. clamp jaw bite.
major 9488: intruder at northwest. attack stance spray.
major 7261: intruder at southeast. attack stance spray.
major 7269: intruder at southeast. clamp jaw bite.
minor 7200: intruders invading nest 1. all save the queen!
minor 7253: protect our larvae!
minor 7218: citric attack!
major 7264: no use, we’re a delicacy.
major 7237: once licked, twice bitten, all minced into garlic tapenade.
major 7999: nest may be cooked, but colony will survive.
major 8000: bon appétit, humans!

++++ hermit ++++

what are you, blind? can’t you see i live here? i know my jade green shell is drop-dead gorgeous, that’s why i chose it. i like the way it accents my bright red body. my old shell didn’t do me justice, but at least it fit. anyway, i outgrew it last month. this jewel fits me like a gem. i’ve finally found the perfect shell, and it’s mine. so bugger off, little crab, you’re too small. better yet, wait in line with the others. your time will come if you’re patient. the last time a human tried to steal my shell, i pinched so hard she tossed me back into the water on the spot. anyway, i prefer kayak rides. one can travel very far, see many more shells of all colors and stripes. in fact, on the other shore i spotted a sharp black and white shell on a snail at high tide. now that would help me stand out among my peers. not like those entire nudie beaches branded blue and red. and some crabs are so flashy they don’t even need shells. just hiding all that iridescent purple blue pink yellow gaudiness underneath a rock, what a waste. besides, they’re huge. if i want a break from the spotlight i’ll duck into some barnacled coral. block the hole with a slug. as long as a moray eel hasn’t already laid dibs, i’m safe. i mean, i’m not always looking for a fight. those sand-camouflaged cannibals are ruthless. if one of them isn’t brandishing some other crab’s claw like a victory torch, it’s dragging another severed torso off for dinner. i may be a scavenger, but i’m not a barbarian. sand bubblers, on the other hand, they have a sense of esthetics. those tiny critters sieve their nutrients right out of the sand at low tide, then after breakfast they leave us with a bubbly mandala on the beach. all that’s really missing is color. now what would mantis shrimp see? even the little ones reflect color, algae green legs moving like a millipede under the microscope, or so i’ve heard. and peacock mantis shrimp, they see psychedelic rainbows. i mean, they are psychedelic rainbows. but then, color isn’t everything. look at the cucumbers, then look at the urchins: same color, totally different shape. the urchins, however, have pretty blue eyes and a pulsing orange heart. not to mention long and elegant spines. but then, i can’t say i spend much time with the filter feeders in the lower sublittoral. in fact, if i’m not getting run over by a stampede of slater bugs scattering across the rocks at dusk, i’m deafened by the snapping of pistol shrimp popping their prey at low tide. anyway—what’s going on?! egret sees red!? no, let go! put me down! my shell, my precious jade shell!

Thank you — to Andy, for leading and encouraging independent discovery of our immediate natural environment, to Tasneem, for her scientific expertise and optimizing our kayak trip around the island, to all the “dinasaurs” who shared this experience with me.

June 24-29

Success with water-adapted augmented reality (AR)

Success with water-adapted augmented reality (AR). Aquatic AR goggles, immersive AR environments … ImmerSea: Subversive Submersibles built and tested in installation experimentations creative real time overlays for experience alteration. Now tabulating off locus reactions.

Coconut Crunching


Check yr Head!

iPad with AR software in the Andaman Sea

Coming soon: We went on the Andaman Sea with six speaker sound fully inflated with compressor zorbatronics and spread the binaural beats across the six speaker immersive submergable and so we had 6d sextanaural sonic body responsive hypno-googah.