Electricity is life by kelly heaton


I have spent nearly twenty years exploring the world with the eyes of an artist and the curiosity of an electrical engineer. All living creatures are electronic devices. Are all electronic devices living creatures? The distinction between manmade and natural lifeforms is blurry, and growing blurrier every day, as human-made electricity vibrates the architecture of reality itself.

In this painting, a frog is merged with a printed circuit design for an astable multivibrator. This amazing little circuit has profound implications because it takes a static voltage and converts it into an alternating signal. This circuit is one of the ways that I make electricity vibrate -- and not only me; the astable multivibrator is a common element in circuit design. The reason that I like it is because it is simple, inexpensive to build, and easy to understand. I'll be talking more about multivibrators in the coming weeks.

Unafraid field cricket by kelly heaton

Unafraid Field Cricket, 2018. Analog electronics, watercolor, and graphite on paper. This little analog electronic cricket painting is "unafraid" because its sensor is pretty insensitive. The speaker element is a deconstructed RadioShack piezo electronic buzzer (with some blue paint to knock down the white rubber ring - see detail on right).

Flashback 2013 by kelly heaton

I'm going through old designs and came across these circuits for Electrolier (Summer Night), 2013. These fictional moths are made from a flexible PCB material (backed with decorative velvet). I built analog electronic circuits to generate the sound of insects at night. One of the photos shows the leaves that I built with blinking fireflies.

Kundalini, 2018 by kelly heaton

Kundalini, 2018 (detail). Watercolor, acrylic, and analog electronics on paper. 15" x 11" x 3"

Kundalini, 2018 (detail). Watercolor, acrylic, and analog electronics on paper. 15" x 11" x 3"

Symmetry = anatomy by kelly heaton

A few more studies using photographs found on the Internet. I have applied symmetry to the photos, and suddenly the wires appear to have an anatomy.

Gray(ish) Tree Frog, 2018 by kelly heaton

Working on a tree frog. I've got my oscilloscope probe connected to its speaker wire so I can "see" the sound that he makes. (The creaking chair is me, not the frog...) The frog's call is entirely generated by the analog electronic circuit that you see on the front of the painting - like an electronic instrument. Below is the finished piece, "Gray(ish) Tree Frog," 2018. Watercolor and analog electronics on paper.


Above: different views of the frog's call using my oscilloscope. The differences that you see are consequent of the time and/or voltage interval that I used to adjust the display (like focusing in and out of sound). In other words, they're all the same signal, just different ways of looking at it.