Project showcase
Continuous Erosion

Continuous Erosion © GPL3+

What is the narrative of an artefact that destroys itself in the presence of the digital human?

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Components and supplies

Necessary tools and machines

09507 01
Soldering iron (generic)
Solder Wire, Lead Free

Apps and online services

Ide web
Arduino IDE
Coded within Arduino IDE (of course)

About this project

1. Media Artist Residency

Developed during the MAiR (Media Artist in Residence) 2017 at the residency site in Prolom Banja, a village surrounded by nature, this artefact explores the geological erosion of mythical stone formations at Đavolja Varoš (Devil’s Town) in the South of Serbia. The artefact accelerates the process by the intrusion of the digital layer that is placed upon humans in an almost ubiquitously way.

2. Initial Concept and first draft

Initially the project was supposed to work with more elements from the area: wax and smaller leaves, water and pebbles. The first version was called "Viserosion", consisting of an pc fan, a plastic tube and a small wax cast.

Smaller elements, in this first draft leaves, were supposed to swirl around and cut into the wax cast over time and showing the erosion visually and in faster time.

The projects (or outcomes) from the residency were exhibited in the fall of 2017 in Belgrade, Serbia at Galerija Doma kulture Studentski grad.

3. Rework and 2nd exhibtion in Bremen, Germany

In 2018 the group of residents were invited to exhibit their works again – this time on german grounds in the Gallery Herold in Bremen. This, obviously, called for a rework, since the wax was not the perfect medium to show off the initial idea of erosion and turned out to be too soft and fragile.

The new rework consisted of a small linear mechanism and a chipped stone from the Devil's Town, which is then grinded down by the mechanism – or the stone grinds down the iron block that is being moved.

4. Technical implementation (Simplified)

A NodeMCU (microcontroller) is programmed to be in promiscious monitor mode[1] and look at all radio signals or „data packages“ floating through the air. The microcontroller will not make any attempts to connect to any WiFi hotspots, but rather just observe data packages from the outside and how strong their signal strength is. More data packages in closer proximity result in higher traffic around the microcontroller, which it has to experience. This tires out an internal „variable“ in the code and stresses the controller, thus starting to move the connected stepper motor in an irritating way.

The controller will only come down, once signals and noise around it vanish into silence – a perfectly calm equilibrium where nothing happens and moves. This state is hard to achieve and is best observed when no one is around, thus resulting in a continuous erosion of the materials.

The new description stands as follows:

An earth surface process of erosion through friction is encapsulated within a physical artefact. Human activities, such as intensive farming methods, are ultimately speeding up this process between 10 to 40 times its natural rate. The artefact picks up digital „pollution“ from smartphone devices in its vicinity. Human interference, illustrated as digital pollution through smartphones, speeds up the process of the artefact unwillingly. Bombardement of invisible radio signals from our phones is not perceivable with the naked eye, but we can experience its influences physically and mentally. So does nature if we go down the chain of supply while scouting for more land and digging for resources.

The work consists of a series of „cards“ explaining different keywords: „RSSI“ (Radio Signal Strength Indicator), „Noise“, „Abrasion“, „Ageing“, „Silence“, „Signal“ and „Erosion“ and the new reworked apparatus.


[1] Based on the code „ESP8266 mini-sniff“ by Ray Burnette


Arduino Code (ESP8266 Mini Sniff)Arduino
Use a very recent IDE version, I used 1.6.12.
I am not including my Arduino Code, since I recently made some changes and it is not as stable as before. Will update this in time.
No preview (download only).

Custom parts and enclosures

ES8266 Mini Sniff by Ray Burnette
Ray Burnette's ESP8266 Sniff puts the NodeMCU into promiscuous mode. I am linking a different Git Repository, but it is the same code.


Schematic for the Trinamic 2130 Stepper driver
Since I've been using DRV8255 forever and never used a Trinamic before, I didn't know that there is a CS (Chip Select) pin which needs to be connected to the motor. Otherwise the whole motor just stutters.
Tmc2130 01 d5u1yofchc


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