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Guide / tools for including plants and their electrical signals in your generative art using arduino + processing 3

If you follow this readme you'll be able to use the electrical noise found in your houseplants to help make generative art with the processing programming language, like the image below.

Shopping List (~$45)

Setting up (Hardware)

  • Get the cable with the 3.5mm female end, and cut off the male end. Splice it and attach the two leads to the arduino's "A2" and "GND" ports.

  • You might want to cut two wires that fit nicely into the arduino, and splice one of these onto each lead, just so you can plug it into the arduino easier. The end result should look like this:

  • Next, plug a 3.5mm cable for the electrodes into the female 3.5mm port we just spliced in, and attach both of the snapping button ends to an electrode.

  • Place the electrodes on a plant, try to put them on different, but nearby leaves. If they're on the same leaf, you won't get very interesting results.

WARNING: Don't leave the electrodes on the leaves for more than a day at a time! It will hurt the plant.

Setting up (Software)

  • Download + install the arduino IDE

  • Start running voltage.ino on your board - you will have to use the "tools" dropdown menu and select the right serial port (usually /dev/ttyUSB0)

  • Download + install the processing 3 IDE

  • Use read_voltage.pde to help you read/graph the voltage from processing. If it's working, you should see a slightly noisy function that hangs around a constant value for the most part.

  • Use template.pde as a base program for your artwork; while in the draw loop, you can get the value of the plant anytime through the variable plantValue (which is a float).

Sample artworks

Here is what sample_circle.pde generates while attached to one of my Snake plants (Sansevieria Laurentii) - note that it isn't the same algorithm from the first picture; just a really quick sample one I threw together to publish publicly.

Coming soon!

  • More sample artworks

  • Use of a voltage booster for more accurate readings

  • Differences between plots during the night and during the day

  • More stuff dealing with pen-plotting (I use an axidraw to get my plots on paper)


Guid to help you make generative art using the electrical activity in plants 🎨🌱




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