Craft & Design Technology
Concrete crickets

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Michael writes –

Graffiti is one of the most powerful and most personal displays in the urban experience, and can be used to make statements, tag territory, spread messages — urban markup language in practice. However, the output is nearly always visual in nature, making this experience one-dimensional. Furthermore, rarely does the work have a brain of its own, and is usually incapable of reacting to anybody observing it.
Concrete Crickets was created to address this deficit, creating small devices that will be aware of passers-by as well as other units of their kind. Each unit consists of a sound generator, amp, speaker and sensory system, and is housed in camouflage appropriate to the streets of the city — soda cans, cigarette packs, and the like.

Concrete Crickets, thanks Tom [via] – Link.

18 thoughts on “Concrete crickets

  1. How might these critters affect blind people who may rely on other more important audible clues to their environment?

  2. How might these critters affect blind people who may rely on other more important audible clues to their environment?

    Hmmmmm…Being that they rely “on other more important audible clues” This type of artwork would appeal to the blind, I’m guessing.

    Like we would respond to a visual piece of art due to its “out-of-place” attribute,(Say a LED Moonennite(sp?) on a bridge..) perhaps the oddity of a cricket noise in such an urban enviroment could generate a giggle in the blind.

    Or lock down the city. Tough call.

  3. Can we (meaning you) reduce and simplify these to the point where they are like LED Throwies? How small a circuit can we make that has the desired effect?

    I imagine these working so that they’re quiet until somebody gets close. How about doing the reverse and making them like Crickets. They make some noise until you get close and then go quiet.

  4. >>Can we (meaning you) reduce and simplify these to the
    >>point where they are like LED Throwies? How small a
    >>circuit can we make that has the desired effect?

    I would think that with proper PCB design (maybe even SMD components), the circuitry would be trivial. The speaker and batteries can’t be reduced much, though…

  5. Wow, thanks a ton for the interest. I’m really flattered!

    Actually, to jbond’s comment, the original plans for these things were very much along the lines of an audio version of Throwies — I really wanted this to be the kind of thing you could make in quantity, turn on and leave somewhere, but there were a few problems. The biggest is cost — the mp3 players aren’t cheap, and the ultrasonic rangefinders are more expensive still. All parts included, they probably cost about $60 each just in parts. Of course, if these were made smaller (and admittely better) they might be done cheaper, but still not that cheap. If anyone has any suggestions on ideas, I’m completely open to hear them!

    Also, they do work like crickets and cicadas now — they turn on at sundown, they run for two hours, and they shut off if anything gets too close. It’s meant to create a little pocket of sound for people passing by, but not meant to be discovered, really.

    Thankfully, I’m installing these in Brooklyn during the Conflux festival, so hopefully there won’t be police issues, but the LAST thing I need is to shut a city down. Nobody from Boston’s coming to see this, right? =)

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