Design of a 2-Axis Actuator for
the Art Installation “Handheld Video”

Design of a 2-Axis Actuator for the Art Installation “Handheld Video”

In the art installation “Handheld Video”, a blank canvas imitates the motions of shaky video captured by a handheld camera. The edges of the canvas are hidden by a frame such that its motion is not immediately apparent, but is revealed when the spectator is close enough to notice the texture of the canvas. The goal of the project was to develop the actuator for this installation.

What was in it for the intern?

Hands-on experience in:

  • Extraction of sample motions from video using computer vision methods
  • Development and evaluation of concepts per artistic and physical requirements
  • Motor sizing and mechanical design for prototype
  • Electrical design and embedded software programming for prototype
  • Hands-on manufacturing of prototype and experimental validation

Expected outcome

A proof-of-concept of the artwork using the developed prototype actuator.   

About Pors & Rao

Pors & Rao is an Indo-Danish art duo based in Bangalore, India, comprising Aparna Rao (1978, Bangalore) and Søren Pors (1974, Esbjerg). They work with objects and installations often incorporating physical movement and responsive behaviours.

After toiling with computer simulations, the internet, and gameplay in the early 2000s, they both abandoned the screen to work with objects that engage the body. Many of their works are conceived as a kind of ‘being’ with basic behaviour patterns such as shyness, fatigue and dependence, highlighting involuntary aspects of human behaviour and relationships.

In early 2014, they took project PATHOS (Poetic Animatronics through Hands On Open Systems) forward at the Wyss Zurich, with a focus on developing tools and modules for nuanced, emotive animatronic expression which is easy to use for non-engineers

StudentStefanie Nacht
InstitutionETH Zurich
CompanyPors & Rao
DurationSeptember – December 2017