BONAPARTE – 40°42’48.46 N 73°58’18.38 by JUL & MAT from JUL & MAT on Vimeo.

Out of the screen, into your kitchen: digital tech can become magically alive when grown-up robotics meet child-like play. And it’s not trickery: this LEGO-powered robotic installation really is playing the parts of this song by Bonaparte.

Peter Cocteau already showed the world that LEGO’s Mindstorms platform can become a fantastic drum machine, in his brilliant NXT-606. Now he’s back, with a robotic installation that “performs” the music video for German rock/electronic artist Bonaparte. Teaming up with Cocteau and French directing team Jul & Mat, they make the kitchen into the drum machine / one-man band of sorts. Under the watchful eye of a crazed Barbie puppet dance instructor, things get hectic fast. Peter explains:

During one month, I’ve built and programmed the robotic installation shown here. I used ten LEGO motors (NXT and old ones), three NXT (which are the LEGO computers seen at beginning of video), and two Hitechnic SuperPro Boards. I use the Hitechnic boards to control the lights and make good NXT synchronization (by using Fast I2C communication). [Ed.: That refers to I2C, a means of connecting devices by way of serial connection, often used in embedded electronics.] Hitechnic is a manufacturer of LEGO-compatible electronics and robotics.

I first inspected all the music parts in the song by using Apple’s Logic Studio, and reproduced [the parts] in the NXT-G program. This robotic installation really plays the song from start to end.

Also, dear LEGO company and other toymakers: we’d love to see more of this sort of product imagination to get young girls and boys doing wondrous, geeky things. (Mindstorms debuted in 1998; this is largely the more recent NXT revision.)

Peter sends an image of the kitchen.

Filmed over the summer in Paris. Amazing stuff, lads.


And directing team:

Brilliant LEGO Mindstorms Drum Machine, NXT-606 – New Video