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Sexyphone

My version of DIMI-S or Sexophone. Each player will need to hold on of the one of the metal pieces at the corners.

My version of DIMI-S or Sexophone. Each player will need to hold on of the one of the metal pieces at the corners.


This is project I have been planning to do for a long time. As an expert on Erkki Kurenniemi’s electrical music instruments I have had a chance to try out most of these weird beasts. The very instrument in question is DIMI-S, which Swedes call Kärleksmaskin (a love machine) and us Finns Sexophone. Sexyphone is my AVR based pocket version of this synthesizer.
Original DIMI-S in Kiasma. At the front the white noise gate unit I built for this instrument for Kurenniemi exhibition in Kiasma.

Original DIMI-S in Kiasma. At the front the white noise gate unit I built for this instrument for Kurenniemi exhibition in Kiasma.

Kurenniemi built two DIMI-S instruments. Today another unit is located in Kiasma museum in Helsinki, while the second one is in busy use at composer Ralph Lundsten’s studio in Stockholm, Sweden. Instruments differ a bit from another and original schematics exist only of the unit still located in Lundsten’s studio. My instrument attempts to mimic the functionality of Lundsten’s instrument. If you are fluent in Swedish, this instrument is thoroughly discussed in fine article by Jörgen Städje. I also happen to have the original schematics of this instrument in my possession which came in handy for sorting out some minor details.

Basic principle of the instrument is following. Instrument can be played alone, but more players, the merrier. Each player will hold one metallic knob in hand (sometimes also handcuffs have been used). By this they will be connected to the circuitry of the instrument. When they will touch each other, instrument will be playing notes and melodies.

Handcuffs may be used with Sexyphone.

Handcuffs may be used with Sexyphone.


My instrument is designed to be portable, so one can easily take it with to bar or where ever people usually touch each other. Four metallic screw bits at the corners will substitute as metallic knob. As long as all players will touch one of these with the other hand, touches will be tracked. One can also install handcuff electrodes to the corners when more dramatic setup is preferred. The instrument can either be heard through two piezo speakers (one for bass and one for treble) or line out through mini jack output.

The original instrument is equipped with light organ unit. My version substitutes this with a smaller system of six LEDs.

Min Fontän

Fontän in my bathroom.

A view from my bathroom.


This piece is spin off of project Privéfonteintjes I did with German artist/inventor Niklas Roy few years back. My friends were setting up a group exhibition in Titanik-gallery and they invited me to join them. Their exhibition was about electricity, water and hacking. Which brought back some memories. When I found out that the toilet in the gallery was free to use for one extra art work, I seriously needed to revisit this old project.
The control unit of Min Fontän.

The control unit of Min Fontän. LDR resistor will detect suitable mood for stroboscopic vibrations.


This Fontän is a water sculpturing fountain based on a LED strobe installed on the nozzle of the fountain. But the Fontän it self is just a part of this piece. I equipped the toilet with motion tracker which allowed me to detect when the toilet seat is occupied. Then light is switched of from the room and fountain (that our customer is most likely staring at) will activate. When our test subject will stretch his/her arm a bit, light will be switched back on. This again will deactivate the Fontän.

In order for this piece to work, one really needs to use the toilet without any hint what will happen. When the exhibition was opened the toilet of the gallery was not in a busy use and the piece did not get much exposure. However, during the opening of the exhibition which turned out to be a huge party until noon next day, there eventually was a long queue to the toilet. And luckily a stream of pleasantly surprised party people exiting the restroom. A success!

Min Fontän at the videokaffe exhibition in Titanik Gallery © Henrik Mikander

EXCTR-network close up.

EXCTR-network close up.

The Spatial Aural Exciter is a project initiated by Samy Kramer. It is essentially a cheap multichannel system consisting of small synthesizer boards that can be connected together in different configurations. Systems can comprise of hundreds of boards. Especially in large systems allow generating big masses of sound that can be moved in space. Individual boards are based on ATMega328 microcontroller and are compatible with Arduino libraries.

Example of exctr-network configuration.

Example of exctr-network configuration.

Exctr-system consists of several different parts. One part is a software running on computer that is sending parameters for individual synthesizer nodes. The communication between computer and individual nodes is done by using MIDI like protocol. The synthesizer nodes are connected in series. Commands are sent from the computer to the string of nodes. Nodes will forward the data to the next node until correct receiver has been reached. Largest practical length for one string is around 40 nodes. In larger networks, multiplexer nodes can be used to combine parallel strings to one network.

Individual synthesizer nodes are small electronic boards consisting mainly on ATmega328 microcontroller and a piezo speaker. The software turns microcontroller to a simple monophonic synthesizer. As one would expect, one can alter the waveform, frequency and amplitude in real time. Band limited sound synthesis algorithms are currently under development.

Exctr-system has been exhibited in several exhibitions over the Europe. Currently this project is actively developed and so far biggest configuration will be exhibited in Turku July 2014.

The software for the single board can be found at http://launchpad.net/thespatialauralexciter. The official website of the project can be found at http://exctr.net/.