What can we learn by making art for non-humans? Kurt Box is a kit inspired by NASA’s existentially-drenched Voyager Golden Record project. My speculative design prototype uses a solar-powered Arduino microcontroller to listen—and react—to animals in the forest. When the onboard microphone “hears” a sound in a specific frequency range, at a certain amplitude it alerts an audio sampler to output arrangements I made of Nirvana songs about power, nature, animals, guns, and landscape. Kurt Box was tuned to “listen” to the Maine state bird, the black-capped chickadee. The kit was made in 2017 at the Skowhegan School for Painting and Sculpture.

Kit contents

— 1 Arduino UNO
— 1 Adafruit (PID 1552) Stereo 2.1W Class D Audio Amplifier
— 1 Longruner DFPlayer Mini MP3 Player Module
— 2 DROK Mini 5W, 4 Ohm 2-inch Audio Speaker  
— 1 Adafruit Electret Microphone Amplifier
— 1 Tetra-Teknica MNWS5P Mini-size Lapel Microphone Windscreen
— 1 Seeedstudio-LiPo Rider Pro
— 1 3W, 138x160 Solar Panel
— 1 Adafruit 328 Battery, Lithium Ion Polymer, 3.7V, 2500mAh
— 2 eBoot Plastic Waterproof Adjustable 3.5-13mm Cable Glands Joints
— 1 Uxcell 250mm x 80mm x 85mm Waterproof Enclosure
— 1 Small Breadboard
— 1 USB 2.0 A/B Cable
— 1 DIY enclosure for microphone ear
— 1 DIY fixture for solar panel
— 3 Plastic zip ties
— Assorted jumper wires
— Assorted nuts and bolts
— Audio speaker cable
— Foam insulation