Artificial intelligence (AI) is now cheap enough that people can use it for cheap laughs. As a professional writer, I am very impressed with the clumsy results of AI writing services. Similarly, art created by artificial intelligence is appealing not as a realistic representation of the human condition, but as entertainment with strange results. These images are an attempt by artificial intelligence to combine the representations of the input keywords into one. To test the limits of his engineering skills James Bruton has created a real tool based on an artificial intelligence model.
Some AIs are really good at creating surreal art or very specific forms of realist art such as portraiture. Surreal art works because it doesn’t need to make sense. Portraits work because human faces are all similar. But artificial intelligence struggles to create original models of physical objects that make geometric sense. You can try it yourself by asking the AI to create any old electronics around your house. At first glance, it looks like the real thing. But the longer you look, the more Escherian details you’ll notice that can’t be there in reality. That’s why Bruton faced a huge challenge when he decided to take on this project.
The design Bruton settled on (after several attempts) was coined the phrase “experimental robotics for playing music.” As expected Created by AI the image is geometrically impossible. But it had a unique, overall design aesthetic that Bruton could replicate in the physical world. He designed this experimental tool in CAD and later 3D printed parts. It looks like a blue bucket with several curved tube arms that end in a ball. Bruton decided that the arms should rotate and the bubbles should be compressed, and both actions somehow control the music.
Arduino Mega 2560 The development board controls these controls, which work using the Hall effect sensor. Rotating the arm moves the Hall Effect sensor relative to the magnet, and squeezing the ball moves the magnet closer to the Hall Effect sensor. This gave it an analog input to translate and output as a MIDI signal. These MIDI signals are then fed into a synthesizer or sampler, so controlling the weird AI instrument creates music.
Bruton met with Sam Battle (of the LOOK MUM NO COMPUTER YouTube channel) to test the instrument on THIS MUSEUM IS (NOT) SOLETE Battle, which features several of Battle’s own compositions. They connected the output of artificial intelligence tools to Battle’s DIY pipe organ inlet. And it worked! Obviously, there are better ways to play music, but experimental musicians should appreciate the nature of this project.