Making Laser Pentagrams, In Your Punani

We made a 10 foot sound reactive laser pentagram for the Shit Fun presents Venetian Snares and Otto Von Schirach show at the Great Hall last Saturday! This was mini project that we developed as part of our Site 3 CoLaboratory Residency as we’re playing with lasers a lot for our upcoming project Galaxy Heist!

Hopkins and Duffield sound reactive laser pentagram

This project had some fun little considerations. We had a limited amount of time to check out the space in advance, and we had to come up with a quick laser mounting system that did not require drilling or marking up any walls… on a tight budget. Because we didn’t have exact measurements (though our blueprint estimates were ultimately bang on anyways), this meant that some of our cabling had to be measured out in the space day-of, and therefore we were cutting and soldering wires just hours before the show! But we’d budgeted our time for this, so all was good :)

We ended up using cheap, safe lasers, and attaching the small metal laser mounts we made (with laser termination points in order to keep the shape) using 3M adhesive strips and earth magnets! Worked pretty well in our preliminary tests, though day-of we had a couple minor issues we weren’t anticipating – first, the type of paint on the wall was harder to work with than our test walls. Second, the bass. The music vibrated the mounts a little more than we were expecting! So while still very much forming a pentagram shape, they would occasionally get ever so slightly out of alignment (probably only enough for us/the nit-picky to notice), but were easily adjusted back!

We also had to find a good hazer to work with, and had the most success and laser visibility with an Ultratec Radiance Hazer. And sound reactiveness was a success! Hooked up through an Arduino and running through Max/MSP, we programmed the lasers to fade out with sound, which was interesting with the prevalent styles of music at the event.

Here is a gallery of images showing some of our process, setup, etc. Thanks to Sean Marven, Emad Dabiri, and Daeve Fellows for supplying some of the images!

Special thanks to:
Site 3 CoLaboratory
Brett Hagman
Dann Hines
Heather Mahzar
+ Jubal Brown, Sean Marven, and the rest of the team that put on such a wicked show!

Oh yeah, and hail Satan or whatever.

Youtube Nation!

Looks like YouTube Nation featured our working controller PSX controller bra/bro performance at Vector Fest 2013! Awesome to be in the mentioned same breath as some world class talent!

Check out the video here:


We’re going to be doing some installation work for this wicked lineup! Super stoked.

Shit Fun Venetian Snares Flyer - June 14, 2014


and from the VIDEODROME videos and installations by:
Daeve Fellows
Dona Arbabzadeh
Clint Enns
Video Samurai
Dr. Neptune
Graham Kartna
Roxanne Luchak
Hopkins Duffield
+more TBA

Check out the Facebook event page for more info!

Drone Day

This coming Saturday, we’re presenting our video-music project, Drone, for the event, |||DRONE ALONE

May 10th @ May Bar
876 Dundas St. West, Toronto
Doors at 8pm

Check out the Facebook event page for more info!

Drone Alone Event Poster

In acknowledgement of Weird Canada’s Drone Day.

Performances by:
Lorde Awesome
Cassandra Witteman
frAncIs (Cybernetics Orchestra) |
Girls Alone (Jesse L. Bellon and Neil Adare)
Egyptrixx pres. A/B til Infinity

Videos and installations by:
Jubal Brown
Clint Enns
Leslie Supnet
Daniele Hopkins and Kyle Duffield
Jeff Donaldson
Blake Carrington
Martin Zeilinger
Lila Fatehi

Weird Canada:
Drone Day:

Organized by Katie Micak and Laura Dobson.

Work In Progress Level Editor

We’ve been working away at the software component for our upcoming project, Galaxy Heist, which we’re making in conjunction with Site 3 coLaboratory as part of our Artist Residency. As we’re developing it, we’re using using Max 6 and an Arduino to run our project because we’re most familiar with these interfaces, which allows us to test and develop more quickly. We may change this setup for the final manifestation of the project, but we’re making some serious progress!

The good news: We have a system that we can write our laser patterns on like we would a MIDI song, using Max 6 and an Arduino. This is made possible with Hochschule für Musik Basel’s wonderful external MSP object note~. We can also save levels as text files and simply load in a folder of our levels in development. This is going to be awesome for play testing (which, yes, we will need play testers ;) ) because we can quickly and easily change the pattern of the fence to test and tweak for ideal play systems. Additionally, we can adjust the tempo for different difficulty levels. For more information, see here.

One issue is that most of the documentation for getting the Arduino to Max 6 is centered around the Arduino Uno. With the amount of digital pins we need to run our project, we had to go with the Arduino Mega 2560, which has 52 digital pins that can be input or output, and 16 analog inputs. We only need the digital because we’re changing our photocells (which are analog inputs) into digital on a hardware level. The good news is that we’ve pretty much figured out how to use the Arduino Mega 2560 with Max by modifying Lasse Vestergaard’s ArduinoMax-InOut-forDummies (which can be found with other Max Arduino methods here). We still have to sort out a couple minor bugs, but it works!

Once our patches are finessed / finished (it may take a while), we’ll be releasing little bits of code so that hopefully it can help others!

Next, we’re going to put our theory into practice – head back to the shop and hook up our lasers to the Arduino. Then we gotta solve the problem of mounting these things and thinking of a robust wiring architecture.

Stay Tuned!

Galaxy Heist WIP Max Patch 01

Screenshot of our work in progress Max patch that will run Galaxy Heist. This patch allows us to write the laser fence patterns with a MIDI Piano roll interface, parse the data, and send it to the digital outs of the Arduino (which is used to control our lasers).

Laser Switch Prototype


This a video of our working laser switch prototype for our upcoming project, Galaxy Heist, which we’re making as part of our Site 3 coLaboratory Artist Residency. Our fences are essentially going to consist of a bunch of these lasers that can turn on and off. It can/will be more refined, but it works! In this demo video we have it hooked up to an Arduino Uno and Max 6 to just play a video to show that the switch is doing something. The switch consists of a dollar store laser diode and a photocell (see diagram below).


Laser Switch Diagram

Diagram of our how laser switches work

We’re hoping to be able to write all of the laser patterns in Midi, meaning writing “code” for the levels (i.e., laser patterns that the player has to dodge) will be super easy, and potentially tweakable in real-time if need be. Additionally, we can adjust the tempo of the laser patterns for different difficulty levels. We’ll keep updating our progress!

Our next step: Get multiple firing in patterns! We could do this straight in Arduino, but our goal is to have it output as a result of a Midi file.

Update & Site 3 Artists in Residence

We got hit by some illness and stuff, so we had a bit of downtime since our last update. The wicked news is that we were selected as Site 3 coLaboratory’s Artists in Residence! What is Site 3? Site 3 is a Toronto-based maker space that consists of awesomely creative people… many with engineering, electronic, and/or pyro-based creative projects (just to name a few). Check ‘em out at

So what are we doing for them? Well, we’ve been preparing to combine our love for media and installation, with our love for gaming and 80’s B movie Sci-Fi, to create a live-action gaming environment entitled, Galaxy Heist. We figure a lot of developers (and one of our past projects) are focusing on making your body a controller for virtual realms (which is fun and awesome!..but…), so why don’t we just turn the entire bloody environment into a controller?

Galaxy Heist is an interactive experience with an 80’s sci-fi futuristic aesthetic. The project emulates a classic laser-avoidance “diamond heist” scenario by allowing the player to step into the role of the cosmic burglar. With a limited amount of time, the player must pass through a complicated series of changing and alternating laser patterns without tripping any of the lasers in order to retrieve the object to win the game. If the player trips a laser, it is game over, and the player can either play again or the next player enters the game. The physical setup involves a series of low powered lasers set up in “fences,” each with a distinct and changing firing pattern. The player must pass by each fence in order to retrieve the object back through the fences to complete the game. A medium fog/haze fills the room to create an aesthetic and to make the lasers visible in the air.

This is quite unlike anything we’ve done before, so we’re going to be blogging our progress as it develops. In the mean time, start training, cadets!

Diagram of Galaxy Heist

Diagram of Galaxy Heist, developed in conjunction with Site 3 CoLaboratory.

Diagram of Galaxy Heist

Diagram of Galaxy Heist


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