After introducing participants to the schematic of our device and allowing them some time to learn it, today the task was to improve it and to brainstorm reasons, solutions and a meaning of the noise and data.
We however started with the recap of the previous day because we wanted to see whether participants understood the basis of “Organic Cinema”, schematic itself and if they had any questions/suggestions. One interesting thing which came out after yesterday session was that we needed to change the speed in which values through Arduino are transmitted to the computer. That was suggested by Rosa Bernardez. The reason for that was that if we can get more values faster, that way it will be easier to spot what is a noise and what is the important part of the data.
We have changed our Firmata code to do so and distributed it among work stations, so that participants could proceed with data analyses.
First step was to learn how to fetch data values as CSV file and how to make a graph out of it using MagicPlot software.
Magic Plot allows to place two (or more) sets of values on x and y axis, so that for our purposes it is easy to see if anything interesting – i.e. any type of reaction to stimuli – has happened over the time when data was transmitted. After successful installation of Processing, pluging the code and understanding how to create graphs, participants were enthusiastically diving into various experiments to collect as many data graphs as possible. They also now gained deeper understanding of the project and some of them – Margarita Gonzalez, Judith Cano, Rosa Bernardez and Cristina Anllo from biology, science and urban planning background got engaged even more, providing us with various ideas and information. This part of the session was also crucial in teaching about the difference between action & variation potential AND electromagnetic field. That also gave us an opportunity to explain about the plants’ “perception” of time and how to be careful in reading data – as most “real” reactions happened after some time, not immediately.
In the meantime we had a new person joining – Prof. Macario Baquero – professor of electronics. He studied in depth our present circuit and problems we were facing and proposed an alternative.
Together with Julian Perez they were busy creating a new schematics, hoping to build new circuit and test it in time. The biggest problem we found out was that because Arduino cannot recognize negative values, we couldn’t get a full extend of the signal. The solution would be to build a dual power supply for the Arduino – with currents going both ways.
One group has experimented with biting on leaves to see whether it could detect it. And indeed their data reading where very interesting. When bitten – the voltage seemed to drop quite significantly, and not immediately.
They had also decided to run an overnight experiment with a plant cocooned in the dense, light-depriving box made out of black rubber. They wanted to see a 24 hours worth of a data and as soon as a plant was taken out of the rubber they wanted to exposed it to IRLED lights, to see what sort of reaction they could get.
Around half-time of our workshop we invited everyone to do a brain-storm in attempt to find reasons and solutions for the noise. We have prepared large pads and post-it notes and divided our brain-storm into 5 subjects: REASONS, SOLUTIONS – HARDWARE, SOLUTIONS – SOFTWARE, SOLUTIONS – ANY OTHERS and APPLICATIONS. That seemed to inject a lot of cool ideas from everybody and also we realised that we omitted a crucial part of it, which is THE MEANING OF DATA – as pointed very cleverly by one of the participants.
The overall feeling after day 2 was that everybody got much more engaged and enthusiastic and seemed to have loads of fun. We received a lot of valuable inputs in form of thoughts, ideas and knowledge. And we surely are looking forward to Day 3!