Chocolate Chip

Applied fascinations of Justyna

Wayang Kulit over Microfluidic interfaces

An ongoing collaborative research connecting open hardware, DIY approaches with traditional crafts, a research of 4 individuals: Dr. Denisa Kera, professor and designer at National University of Singapore, Stefania Druga founder of, Yair Reshef from Shenkar College of Engineering and Design and myself.

The project was selected for a presentation at SIGGRAPH Asia 2014 and for publication in the ACM Digital Library.

To read the paper click the link below

The open hardware is cool because it enables philosophers, artists, people with little limited technology background to learn how microcontrolers work, to connect sensors and combine them with practices and things they know – like crafts, art or even philosophy. We are interested in the this connection between amateurs and “technologists”. We all share same passion and want to connect technology with something on the opposite spectrum, to democratize science.

New collective identities are creating powerful networks that enable projects to move further (adapt better to local needs, enable people to feel ownership) and then these single attempts and efforts of individuals become a part of something larger they expand and live on its own. Projects are modified and reintegrated, creating a new culture. These new rituals can be seen as reactions to mass productions and facilitate learning and personal use of technology. They also enable us to have personal memories and stories, create new relations in our communities an example can be an incubator for yoghurt or some halloween interactive handmade halloween decoration.

Here is a statistic showing how fast the making movement is growing. The vice president of maker media and co founder of Maker Faire Sherry Huss described the current state of the movement as in which “Communities are getting involved in charting their own future and celebrating making in so many ways that makes sense in their unique regions” This statement formulates an approach in making which is Culture-centered to Design for Science Communication.


In our project we want to explore how traditional and indigenous cultural practices (shadow theater) can support science communication

So we started investigating how open hardware merges with traditional crafts, in Indonesia where there are already active groups combining crafts and hardware to translate traditions and emergent technologies Are you familiar with terms Wayang kulit and microfluidic interfaces? If not..Let me explain the terms quickly. Wayang kulit is a traditional shadow pappetry theatre and microfludics interface is an on-chip laboratory.

Now any ideas where this is going? We use micro tini actors like Daphnia as well as other biological components and make stories, make these microrganisms perform in a coconut, that you can think of as theatre and then they’re also on a on stage that is a biochip. So we manipulate the biological materials to feature characters and tales from traditional Indonesian shadow theatre.






Here is an example of Wayang Kulit performance in Indonesia

We would like to propose a new interface so people can experience new scientific knowledge and techniques, appropriate tools like microfludicis that can be useful in the future… it is a form of science theater, science communication project, but we are also testing what we need to develop low cost diy micorfludicis… but in a playful manner…

Our objectives are:

  • Support Open Science in the Global South and continue investaigating DIY microfluidics, which will enable open science in the Global South
  • Explore Traditional and New interfaces
  • Reference the early media history behind zoopraxiscope and early devices displaying motions of organisms, which enabled modern cinema, so we are looking at microfludiics as a form of future medium- a platform for artistic and scientific exploration.
  • We also want to be able to Use language and communication techniques that indicate civic engagement and epistemology

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Various groups exploring and sharing knowledge about microfluidics

Wayang Kulit theater often combines and present political and social issues. Old Ramayana stories are intercepted by jesters and fools,characters which comment on new issues and make fun of the public. Wayang Kulit can be seen as a form of political satire

The zooplankton we were using during experimentation was reminding us of Semar, one of the most popular Javanese clowns.


Performisemarng on the microfluidic interfaces on a micro scale and creating stories made us reflect on conditions we live in and how manipulated we are in this informal war on science tech politics over molecules. Working on this emergent media became a way of freeing imagination and translating the current means of production.

After learning about different DIY microscopes from hackteria and experiencing Wayang Kulit in Indonesia. We wanted to create a prototype that would reflect and combine traditional elements with electronics and microfluidics. For the manipulation of the microorganisms we used copper,  volcanic soil as well as different light effects and colors.




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An example of earlier projections of biological material at Lifepatch in Indonesia

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This is the current state of our technological crafting, an example of hardware art that becomes an artistic goal on its own.

We are planning on improving the prototype in future and implementing new features as well as realizing a series of videos. The biggest challenge so far was to find the right adhesives that would be cheap, transparent, self flattening, waterproof and worldwide available. Most science materials are also unavailable to people in developing countries for the same reason for which they are unavailable in the citizen science organizations- they are expensive.

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Here are the parts we used for the prototype. The key elements are

  • Loved by foreigners and often a material used for making jewelry and other crafts- coconut
  • Arduino micro- controller for digital manipulation of electronic components
  • The DIY microfluidic customized chips with traditional gunungan designs symbolizing life
  • Leds
  • and the most important element- joy that comes from sharing and learning


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