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TITLE: Amorphous Allotropes

CREDITS: EJTECH /Esteban de la Torre and Judit Eszter Kárpáti/


DIMENSIONS: 10 x 10 x 0.5 cm 


Amorphous Allotropes

’When carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms bond in a certain way to form sugar, the resulting compound has a sweet taste. The sweetness resides neither in the C, nor in the O, nor in the H; it resides in the pattern that emerges from their interaction. It is an emergent property. Moreover, strictly speaking, is not a property of the chemical bonds. It is a sensory experience that arises when sugar molecules interact with the chemistry of our taste buds, which in turn causes a set of neurons to fire in a certain way. The experience of sweetness emerges from that neural activity.’ Fritjof Capra (The Hidden Connection)

Based on the premise of deliberate alignment of atoms used to control digital synapsis, Amorphous Allotropes bases its process on Carbon; the key component to all life known on Earth, to propose a new musical instrument for sonic interactions.

Through controlled artificial crystallisation on prepared structures adapted to enable connection between the crystals and the physical interface for signal processing, from analog to digital; then applying this data, through a custom built software to control and result into sound and its adherent properties.

The beauty in the art of cultivating crystals is that it is not precise and governable, hence thresholds and boundaries are set, then this process set in motion allowing it to create itself.

Communication to the digital world is done by translating the analog readings from the custom rigged crystals, using a controlled electric circuit into an Arduino board, which then serial prints the live data into MaxMSP. A custom patch parses the data stream and converts the fragile analog crystal readings into note/velocity, ADSR envelope values and MIDI.

While this project is mainly inspired by the raw beauty of nature, Amorphous Allotropes combines universal principles of physics with digital technology, proposing new forms of expression using crystal sensors as new musical instruments focused on sonic interactions.


The project is inspired by the Cave of the Crystals in Naica, Mexico >> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cave_of_the_Crystals

and the Merkers Crystal Cave in Germany >> http://giantcrystals.strahlen.org/europe/merkers.htm,

also the work of Lukas Wegwerth >> http://www.trendtablet.com/45825-lukas-wegwerth/

NwPr by Martin De Bie >> http://etextile-summercamp.org/swatch-exchange/nwpr/

Conductive Kombucha by Giulia Tomasello >> http://etextile-summercamp.org/swatch-exchange/conductive-kombucha/

Transient Conductivity by Giulia Tomasello >> http://etextile-summercamp.org/swatch-exchange/transient-conductivity/


Connected to RasPi:

Connected to Arduino:

>>>>>>>>>>   www.instagram.com/p/BUPi5Fxl0EF/


IMG_0300 IMG_0317

IMG_0318 IMG_0308



Amorphous Allotropes  IMG_2781

IMG_2748  IMG_2763

IMG_2757  IMG_2722


IMG_20161127_192327  IMG_20161127_193932

Possible usage (under development): replacing sewing with crystal “soldering”, where the crystals act as sensors.





Water based conductive paint/ink (Bare Conductive), water, borax or alum, textile for structure or pipe cleaner, fishing line, wooden stick, conductive thread

Step 1.  Boil 200mg water and add 100g of borax or alum.

 Stir till solution is super saturated or when you see powder no longer dissolve in water.

Step 2.  Add Electric paint, 1 – 2 teaspoons and stir.

Crystals form bigger when it cools down slower.

Step 3.  Roll the pipe cleaner into desired shape. Tie conductive thread to the pipe cleaner, as this will be the connection we will use for the hardware.

Step 4.  Tie fishing line to pipe cleaner and hang from a pen or wooden stick. Dip it into the solution. Cover with saran wrap. Wait 12 hours.

Step 5.  After 2-3 hours, take out the crystal, reheat the solution and add more borax (3 to 4 tablespoon.)

Step 6.  After cooling down, put the crystal back in.

Wait another 12 hours and take the crystal out.

*Note: There is a beautiful random factor on the final size and formation of your result. For this swatchbook, we have grown the crystals directly on the conductive thread due to restriction of size.

Remember to store back the crystal into the ziplock. Due to oxidation over time it might get white spots.



Growing Quality Crystals: http://web.mit.edu/x-ray/cystallize.html


Wire your crystal to an arduino as follows.

You will want to vary your resistance according to the size of the sensor and the sensitivity you aim for. The higher value ( suggesting above 10kOhm to about 50mOhm ) the more sensitivity. This means you can sense touch, as well as proximity.

It might be recommended to connect a small capacitor in parallel to the capacitance body (10 – 500 pF ) and another (about 100 pF) from sensor pin to ground. Although these are not compulsory, they do stabilise the system. You will also want to keep in mind how the arduino is grounded. For instance if it is being powered by usb from your laptop, the readings will might vary if the computer is plugged to mains or running off the battery.


Screen Shot 2017-04-30 at 10.46.12 PM



/////////ARDUINO CODE/////////


#include <CapacitiveSensor.h> //include de CapSense library

//set the names/pins for sensors

CapacitiveSensor cs_A0_A1 = CapacitiveSensor (A0,A1); // connect sensor here
void setup()
Serial.begin(9600); //communication
void loop() //define what “AZ” each sensor will be, this will help organise multiple sensors, as well as being able to unlist from the serial monitor
long a = cs_A0_A1.capacitiveSensor (30); //

Serial.print(“a”); //printing them into a “AZ” list
Serial.println(“”); //ln is for line, so you get a single row per delay
delay (100);




This will print the sensed values into the serial monitor. Use this data as needed from here on.

Make sure to download the capSense library.





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