Workshop 04: Electronics 1/ Introduction

copyright Michael Myers 2009
[Joyce Hinterding, Aura, 2009] In week 4’s workshop, we delve into the world of electronics. Why? You may ask. We find out how electronics have been used as a medium by contemporary artists. We add this tool to your tool box by beginning with the basics into electronics.


Discussion: RGM Post-mortem

Let’s quickly review the RGM class exercise.


  • What works well?
  • Is there anything that surprised you?
  • What require more time/ effort?
  • Can you give an example of the most important thing you learnt about working with materials? What materials did not work as you thought?

Discussion: electronics for artists

[Kim Williams, Account Payable (detail), 1998]

Research: electronics for artists

Research one of the following artworks:

  1. Ken Rinaldo Autopoiesis
  2. Joyce Hinterding Aura
  3. Simon Ingram Painting Assemblages
  4. Kate Turnbull, Modern Vanitas

Present to class and answer these questions:

  1. Describe the work.
  2. How is electronics used/ function in the work? Is it an essential part of the work in terms of its function, concept, or both?
  3. What is the audience’s experience?
  4. What may be the thoughts generated from this interaction?
  5. What is your appraisal of the work?

Part 1: Mechanical flashing bulb

In a group of 2, create a circuit that conducts electricity using the 12B graphite, paper, clips, and LEDs.

Now, 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.

More about circuits

Use a multimeter to measure the voltage, current, and resistance in your graphite circuit. Can you vary the resistance?

Ohm’s Law:


Current (I): the flow of electrons, measured in Ampere (A)

Potential or Voltage (E or sometimes V): the electric potential difference between two points, measured in Volts (V)

Resistance (R): force in opposition to the flow of current, measured in Ohms (Ω)

Things to remember:

  • Electrons flow from the negative terminal to the positive terminal.
  • An electric circuit is composed of electronic components connected by conductive wires.
  • A closed circuit allows the current to flow.
  • An open circuit is a broken circuit that interrupts the electric flow.

Demonstration: How to use a multimeter

  • How to use a multimeter?
  • When to use a multimeter?
  • Why would need to use a multimeter?

Research and present:

  • What are the following circuits?
  • What do they do?
  • What are they used for?
  • What do they look like?
  1. Circuit in series
  2. Circuits in parallel
  3. Series-parallel circuit

Part 2: Electronic flashing bulb

Electricity is a flow of electric charge (electrons). Electricity in nature: static electricity, lightning, electric pulses in the body etc.

[Russian scientist Georg Richmann was killed by the electric charge of lightning while repeating Benjamin Franklin’s experiment]

Electricity can kill! NEVER TINKER WITH 240V!! Follow Safety protocols! For this subject, do not hack into devices that use 240V electricity. If you incorporate a 240V device in your project work, this device must be tagged by UOW. (We will organise a tagging session for any of these devices).

Build a simple circuit: flashing light bulb using electronic comonents

In a group of 2, building the following circuit. First, you may need to research which component is signified by which graphic.


Research and present: Components

What are these components used for? What are their diagram symbols?

  • Resistors (including variable resistors)
  • Capacitors
  • Coils/ Transformers
  • Diodes
  • Transistors

Research and present:

What do the following terms mean?

  • Direct Current (DC)
  • Alternating Current (AC)
  • Conductors
  • Semi-conductors
  • Superconductors
  • Insulators

Part 3: Digital flashing bulb

Using an Arduino, create a flashing bulb that is identical to your analog flashing bulb, but control it digitally.

What are the differences between a mechanically flashing bulb, an electronically flashing bulb, and a digitally flashing bulb?


Project work: Ideas mapping and Concept mapping

  1. Begin to think  about ideas for project work in this subject. Will you be able to use electronics in your project?
  2. Draw an idea map of your project (map of the central idea you will explore).
  3. Draw a conceptual map of your project (a system map of how related ideas, materials, processes are connected to each other).
  4. Discuss your project proposal with you tutor.


The basics:

Series and parallel:


How to use a multi-meter:




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