Claire Mitchell


An EMG sensor collects data from arm muscle contraction, activating the movement of a robotic, painting arm.

Biomechanics for Interactive Design

An attempt to merge the gestural movement in modern art, and the use of mechanized systems to create art, this piece uses anatomical movement to control a machine, to create a drawing. The piece brings up questions of agency and control in creativity. A secondary exploration of the project will seek to use a similar concept and technology as a therapeutic tool in cases of musculoskeletal disfunction.

I researched EMG circuits and projects from Advancer Technologies, as well as a previous project by ITP students Ezer Longinus, Johnny Lu and Alex Dodge. I looked at work by other artists who use the gestures and body to create their work like Pollock, Tony Oricco. I also looked at various robotic drawing machines, and artists that have combined the two- I recently found Stelarc's Third Hand Project. I did some brief research into the use of EMG and robotics in motor therapy for stroke patients- a scratch of the surface which has inspired me to continue research for future projects.

People interested in biology, anatomy, mechanics, robotics, art, creativity and the intersection of all. Anyone who sees promise in creating a mechanized system that uses muscle movement to become activated. The piece could be used as a tool to encourage the exercise of underused muscles in someone who lacks mobility.

User Scenario
For the show, there would be a video demonstration. The user would be shown wearing the EMG electrodes, when they flex their bicep, on link on the mechanized arm moves one axis. A second link on the arm is controlled by a flex sensor on the finger. This controls the other of the arm. At the end of the arm, charcoal makes marks on a vertical canvas. There would also be a table with the physical robotic arm, and EMG circuit / electrodes, and the canvas of artwork from the EMG controlled arm.

EMG circuit, electrodes. Robotic arm is made from a discarded disassembled desk lamp, two servo motors.

Amplification, sensors, EMG, servos, desk lamp construction, servo mounts. I'm looking forward to researching how to make this project more robust and to find practical applications for using EMG to control mechanized systems.