Anthesizer II, Behind the Scene

Hooray! 🎉

I finally won the Interdisciplinary Grant
Now I could afford to recruit a special agent from theater school..
Introducing Pablo,
너 내 동료가 되라

a talented scenic designer who designed and constructed the Outworld.

I had planned to exhibit Anthesizer II at FOUR different venues:
However, there were TWO major problems here:
  1. Pablo was busy working on other projects until mid-April so he couldn’t start working on the Outworld design until then. For this reason, I had to prepare SEAMUS 2023 by myself.  
  2. The transportation of ant colonies native to California across state or international borders is illegal. This restriction became a significant obstacle for the exhibitions held in New York, and Sweden. I decided to display the video documentation for SEAMUS 2023 and ICAD 2023.

how Pablo built the Outworld 🌎

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The Outworld is built using 1/4″ thick clear acrylic panels with dimensions of 1’8″ x 2’4″ x 1’8″.

Pablo built the interior geography using foam clay, natural aquarium stones, hydrostone plaster, and natural aquarium sand. Painted with acrylic paint and Glow in The Dark paint.

The shimmering lake running through the Outworld is created using fiber optics, resin, and A LOT of hot glue.

how I built the Nest 🏠

There are many types of ant nests out there, but it can be classified into two main types from a broader perspective: Vertical, Horizontal.

© photos from kiedeerk’s DIY formicarium Guide

Vertical Nest

Horizontal Nest

Vertical nest has plexiglass on the side, while Horizontal nest has plexiglass on top.

With vertical nests, the audience can only observe the nest from the front side. On the other hand, horizontal nests offer the advantage of 360-degree observation for the audience. However, a challenge arises when there are fluctuations in air temperature, as condensation forms under the glass, impairing visibility.

To combine the advantages of both types, I came up with a hybrid-style nest.

I opted for Hydrostone, renowned for its superior resistance to mold, increased durability, and enhanced moisture retention and distribution compared to Plaster of Paris.

Acrylic panels of moderate thickness, ranging from approximately 1/8″ to 1/4″, are utilized for the outer mold. If it’s too thin, it can be bent during the plaster pour. To ensure secure corners, each one is covered with duct tape. Clay is employed for molding the chamber.

Within the chamber area, the water reservoir (for nest hydration) and contact mic are carefully positioned. A piece of plexiglass is then placed on the front side, attached with clay both at the back and front, effectively connecting it to the chamber area. This approach enables horizontal and vertical viewing at the same time.

The left and right sides of the nest are drilled with either a 3/8″ or 1/2″ diameter opening to allow tubing entry. Audio cables and reservoir tubing are situated at the back of the setup.

Let’s talk about the amp circuit⚡️

Anthesizer need great amount of amplification since it’s supposed to pick up the sound coming from tiny ants.

The circuit I used in Anthesizer I had continuous electrical humming. To address this issue, I had to come up with the circuit that could minimize the noise while maximizing the amplification.

This is an hi-Z amplifier circuit diagram for piezo designed by Richard Mudhar

I had worked on this circuit for more than a half year even before Anthesizer II. Since I have little experience with Electronics and circuit bending, I got a lot of help from my colleague Marcel Riccelli at CalArts and Madbodger from Adafruit Discord server helped me a lot.

This circuit didn’t provide enough amplification for this project. I believed I could manipulate the original circuit to control the intensity of amplification.

Here are two solutions I experimented:

First, I tried replacing R4 and R5 with 10k pot as Madbodger suggested above.

It sounded okay only when the 10k pot is all the way down. The sound got tinny and distorted as I turned it up.

Later I left a comment on Mudhar’s original post and he responded me with another solution.

The issues of tinny and distorted sounds were resolved, but the circuit no longer amplified the input signal. Instead, the 100k pot functioned as an attenuator, reducing the signal gain.

I couldn’t find a way to achieve great amplification with minimal noise and ended up not using all the circuits I had built. However, I learned a lot from this experience and will definitely try again.

Thank you for reading 🙌

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