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The Queens Speech

In the public eye, the queen portrays the image of a kind representative of British heritage, but behind closed doors, in the dark, she expresses her true self, an uncontrollable robot.

produced by: William Parry


My previous experience with physical computing had been mainly music instrument building, I decided to attempt a physical object with at least some form of stand alone artistic expression, straying away from constructing an instrument as an aid to artistic performance.

The concept behind my project came to me when I was experimenting with using the ‘tone’ function coupled with the piezo buzzer through arduino. I initially had been designing a noise machine, modulating the frequency used via the tone function to control the piezo buzzer. I was getting interesting results, but due to the randomness I applied to the modulation there was no ‘meaning’ to the sound, and I seemed to be creating another ‘instrument’ (which I wanted to avoid). Adding a tune to the modulating frequency would help to bridge this gap. As the piece was to be presented, choosing a widely recognisable tune would be important, I thought it would be quite comical and apt to use the national anthem ‘God Save the Queen’, just as Alan Turing’s machine had played in 1951.

To adapt ‘God Save the Queen’ in to my piece I thought it would be rather comical to have a picture of the current Queen Elizabeth’s head as a structure to which the piezo buzzer would sing from. I am no anti-monarchist, but find the idea of the queen being a robot quite amusing.

From this point I saw my piece of physical computing begging to be crafted with a satirical comedic value similar to that of political cartoons. I can only imagine this conection came from viewing Peter Brookes political cartoons in Chris Beetles illustration gallery a week before. 



Still Fabrictation

To build the queens face, I used a piece of cut cardboard and a print out of her face taken from a pintrest page, stuck together with spraymount. The LED's are held in place through pierced holes in the images' eyes and the Piezo buzzer hot glued behind her mouth to add to the concept. The piece was built as a stand alone object and was therefore battery powered. The arduino board was mounted roughly where the queens brain would be in scale to the print out.

My interest in synthesised cybernetics will have manifested through my intrest in electronic works such as Laura Kikauka & Norman White's 'Them Fuckin' Robots.'

The brain was supported through using a single layer of cardboard glued to the head to connect the perf board to the arduino making use of the extra few millimeters height with the header pins.

This project was designed to be a 'fast assembly' object, something that could be made cheap and quick, in order to bulk make. Using this concept would help with potential further uses and modifications for political activism, and mass public littering. 

In order to present the queens mask for the class I 3D printed a stand, the design of the stand was made with a somewhat 'backup' system installed. As I hadn't previously experimentd with using PLA I was cautious about a long thin plastic cylinder, therfore designed a pertruding base at the bottom incase it snapped allowing me to drill a hole through the pertrusion  to replace with wire. 

Live Fabrictation

Inputs = LDR;

Outputs = Piezo, Transistor;

If the LDR had met its required light absorbing threshold it would play the British national anthem through an array of frequencies

To create the array of frequencies(1) to be used by Arduino's 'tone' function I created a MAX patch to convert MIDI sequence data to frequencies, and timings for execution. 

Else if the threshold hadn't been met:

The frequencies(1) were then modulated by a randomly generated frequency(2).

This frequency(2) created through a random length of cycles created the modulation, the amount of modulations also being random helped to create great results. 

To control the LED's I used a bc547 transistor as a gating function to control the +V flowing to it in series from the arduino -> Piezo buzzer, allowing the passing of the V+ once the threshold had been met (randomly weighted). linking the LED's and the Piezo created a simple an effective audio visualisation. 



ON OSBORNE'S SCARY BREXIT FORECAST... by PETER BROOKES - original artwork for sale | Chris Beetles. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 19 December 2017].

Pinterest. 2017. Free Queen Elizabeth Printable Mask for Halloween #free #printables | Freebies | Pinterest | Printable masks, Queen elizabeth and Free printables. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 19 December 2017].

God Save the Queen (British National Anthem) midi file for Piano (midi) - [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 December 2017].

Them Fuckin' Robots | Art and Electronic Media. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 December 2017].


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