Humanising is a performance art piece created in Cycling 74’s Max software.

The concept behind Humanising stemmed from themes similar to that of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird: the loss of innocence.

To showcase this, I wired an Arduino Teensy into a children’s toy I bought in a charity shop. The toy features 6 buttons and a spinning top (which also acted as a binary button). The buttons were assigned MIDI data through the Arduino and were fed into the Max Patch.

Before coding the patch, I also had my nephews and niece record the following: ‘When I’m older, I want to be…’ followed by their personal preference for a job in the future.

The visual aspect in the patch’s GUI was a video displaying children shows. The GUI also had a counter displaying an Age (and steps counting to an age), a mixer and a video element.

So, how does it work?

The button number 1 on the toy triggers a step to age and randomly selects one of the voice recordings. There are 6 ages in total (0-5) and they display the following in the video window:
0 – Preschool cartoons and children in school
1 – Shifting between preschool cartoons and Disney animated movies depicting dark themes
2 – Showing occasional violent scenes from the news
3 – Faster switching between videos and showing portraits of humans deemed evil
4 – Very fast switching almost entirely all violent scenes
5 – Flowers bloom.

As well as video changes, during each age the continuous pad becomes more and more sporadic and out of tune as the piece progresses.

On the toy there are 7 buttons which do the following:
1 – Triggers step to age / plays random voice recording
2 – Changes volumes of individual frequencies in the pad subpatch
3 – Changes frequencies in the pad subpatch
Blue – Triggers one-shot white noise
White – Triggers drum pattern in drum subpatch
Yellow – Flashes images of evil people in the video
Top – Distorts the video display

Check out the video, I hope you enjoy.

Also, see below for the patches, should you want to build yourself!
Paul-Jo Nielsen
Co-Founder of Bay6 Games and Nüwa Sounds - Other