wild card

the return of magic by kelly heaton

I have spent the past five months working on a sculpture that required some serious engineering on my part, a task that I managed to accomplish by hyper-focusing and pushing myself through many days at my electronics bench. Meanwhile, my lack of energy to make art with my spiritual and physical self has been injurious. A new friend thankfully reminded me that I need these other facets of myself if I am to survive. Suddenly, I regained attention for the magical objects that I keep on display above my electronics workspace. These protectors and power objects became visible to me again after a blindness that I self-inflicted with my own mental intensity. It’s amazing how a shift in consciousness can instantly remove the wool from our eyes — the most dangerous form of blindness is not an optical condition, but a compromised state of mind.

I wish that hardcore stunts of engineering were possible (for me) without a serious bias for thinking (instead of feeling), but that’s just not the case… not yet. I need more practice in order to achieve a greater virtuosity and grace, but that’s the work of a lifetime I suppose. Anyway, now, as I approach the end of my latest intellectual challenge, I’m grateful that a restoration of balance is on my horizon.

life-like bird song circuit by kelly heaton

This simple circuit sings like a bird, even with chirp variation! This effect is caused by various discrete non-linear components in a breadboard. I tried to build a soldered version and, while it sings, I haven’t been able to reproduce the life-like quality of this circuit (hence my theory that parasitic capacitance is at play).

In the front half of the breadboard, you see three astable multivibrators that create an irregular tempo. These are connected back to various locations in a “chirp generator” circuit (based on the classic doorbell canary design with an audio transformer).

down time by kelly heaton

Earlier this week, I had arthroscopic surgery on my left hip to repair an old injury that was becoming arthritic. This post is an evolving repository of and video loops that I’m creating during my downtime.

Kokopelli by kelly heaton

Kokopelli, 2018. Watercolor and pencil on paper, 15" x 11"

Kokopelli, 2018. Watercolor and pencil on paper, 15" x 11"

I have a mysterious relationship with the spirit Kokopelli. Six years ago, I had a series of dreams in which I saw his iconic figure: a hunchbacked spirit playing the flute and tumbling around in somersaults. I also observed that he had rays of energy coming out of his back and head, sort of like a hedgehog or an armadillo reflecting sunlight. I didn't have any waking history with Kokopelli, so it was strange to "meet" him in a dream. From time to time, he pops up when I'm not expecting him -- this time, adopting the form of a circuit in the desert. This painting depicts two astable multivibrators and a 555 timer that are daisy-chained to generate sound through a piezo disk. Initially, I didn't have an overall form in mind for the circuit. I drew it organically, staying faithful to the electrical connections, because I enjoy the nerdy brain-teaser and the process of discovering shapes in artistic circuitry. Anyway, Kokopelli appeared ... and of course he did! Kokopelli is an electrical being who plays music, similar to my other sound-generating circuits. He also heralds the beginning of Spring, so maybe winter in Virginia is nearly over. What a sign of good luck all ways around.

The power of symmetry by kelly heaton

The power of symmetry as applied to wires in an Internet service provider's warehouse. Digital photo collage, 2018. Looks like a Grotjahn painting

The power of symmetry as applied to wires in an Internet service provider's warehouse. Digital photo collage, 2018. Looks like a Grotjahn painting

Several other games with photo collage symmetry, including intriguing comparisons to Pacific Northwest art and a self-portrait of Leigh Bowery

Radio Receiver Mask by kelly heaton

Radio Receiver Mask, 2017. Wood, rope, metal wire, paint

Radio Receiver Mask, 2017. Wood, rope, metal wire, paint

Like a radio receiver, our mind picks up certain frequencies by design -- a subset of reality, based on the architecture of our senses and how we are tuned. I like to listen to a lot of different stations, especially the ones that are faint, vibrating on the edge of perception. This mask is part of my Human Electric series. It's designed after an actual circuit using a 555 timer, some simple RC circuits, a transistor, and an antenna. If you're wondering why my construction technique is primitive, there's a reason: imagine the future of our civilization if the grid were to collapse. My masks are designed to symbolize electronic identity in a post-apocalyptic world.