Robot arms reach out to the Raspberry Pi: this is art

What’s going on? Hec, I’m in a room with robot arms and fingers twitching as they respond to social media. THIS can only be art but it’s art powered by makers. Tucked away is a spaghetti bowl of technology with Raspberry Pi Zeros as the thinking heart of it.

For a first and maybe last time I’ve chosen to feature a real piece of contemporary art. As the Dad of the artist I was asked whether the idea was feasible, it was and hence here’s the inside scoop on how it worked out.


Passive Aggression is the title of an art installation just seen at TACO! a gallery in London. The artist is Alex Frost who jibes at consumer consumption and desires. This same artist was responsible for a Youtube channel of ‘wet unboxing’ videos where branded items, such as a pack of soup were opened under water. See below or here for lots more


Frost’s new exhibition makes an uncanny watch. It shows hands and fingers that weirdly signal across the room for some purpose. What’s happening is that the likes, follows, post counts and post views from social media become finger movements. These in turn become more fingers responding with likes, and shares and follows. The commercial social media accounts (YouTube; instagram) of Red Bull, Lemsip, Nivea, Belvita, Seven Seas and Chicago Town Pizza are monitored by these robot arms. A Raspberry pi zero was nominated for the unsettling task.

Available from raspberrypi.org


At the backend you may see double monitor stands adapted to hold the arms. The hands are silicone casts of the artist’s own hands, painted accordingly.

In this video of a prototype, servo motors twitch and it’s these motors, and a 3a power supply, that drives the fingers …

… A fishing line pulls the fingers, PVC tubing inside the hand helps prevent wear and snagging by the line.

A Sparkfun Pi Servo pHAT takes its orders from the Pi Zero and in turn sets of three wires feed the servo motors. An Adafruit LED display completes the picture and shows the Pi’s IP address and name suggesting that these devices connect/can chat as a local network.

Credits and links:

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