Workshop 2: Touch – Conductive and Capacitive Circuits

In response to the works and themes discussed in the second lecture, we will focus on how the sense of touch can employed in interactive works. You will explore the use of graphite and graphite paint as simple conductive materials and their capacity as material to provide connection and activation. You will be experimenting these materials in electronic circuits and these exercises will lead discussion on how different human senses can contribute to our experience of the outside world to create meanings. 


  1. Create an entry for this week that include your research, analyses, and notes from discussion.
  2. Document the class exercises including processes and results. These weekly workshop posts will contribute to the research for your Major project assignment.

Research Analysis:


Research and find out:

  • The history of Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery, Alabama designed by Maya Lin.
  • Describe the design of this 3-dimensional work.
  • What was it used for? Who used it?
  • How do you think she wants the visitor to interact with the memorial?
  • How do visitors tend to interact with this work?
  • How do they react physically when encountering the work?
  • How do different senses respond to this work?
  • What decision the designer had to make? And on what basis? What is the design rationale? 

Discuss your findings in class.


Have a look at the two following works discussed in the lecture:

  1. What is the role of touch in these works?
  2. What does the sense of touch relate to the other senses such as sight, or sound?
  3. What is the design rationale?
  4. What is the designed experiences?


Exercise 1: Paper Torch 

Follow this exercise to create a paper torch – instead of graphite pencil, use the conductive paint provided. You can also use conductive copper tape to join your component.

Once you succeed, make the light bulb flash … using any mechanical mean you can think of. (Draw a picture of how you will make the light bulb flash.)

Vary your design: draw a pattern or an image for your circuit, change the shape of your torch (can this be a cube?), change the torch into a buzzer.

Document your process and results.

Exercise 2: Capacitive Touch Sensor Circuits

You will be provided with pre-wired capacitive touch sensor circuits to explore. At the end of the croc clips connect different materials (both conductive and non-conductive) and test how the circuit responds to touching each object.

Try to modify the circuits – can you add a buzzer, led lights, or other outputs?

Research and find out how capacitive sensing works.

 Document your process and results. Reflect on what may this be used for or how you may be able to incorporate touch in a project (it doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to yet).

Exercise 3: Makey-makey

In a group of 2 – 3, create an interaction using a Makey-Makey, objects and a computer program. Following the instructions here:

When you have make this simple interaction works, try different objects (do you have a banana or piece of fruit) and different programs. Use the programs provided here:

Document this exercise in your blog and reflect on how this can be used or how you may be able to incorporate touch in a project (it doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to yet). For example, what media outputs can you incorporate.

Have a look at Julien Maire’s play with graphite, paper and circuits here:

How does it work?

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