Christian Cerrito

Chris Cerrito is currently entering his second year at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, after receiving a B.A. in Sociology from Tufts University, and a B.F.A. in Studio Art from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Coming from a background involving social thought, jewelry design, kite making, drawing, boat building, painting, fine metals fabrication, DJing, and architectural concrete construction, he has dabbled with many mediums, methods, and ideas. While at ITP he has become interested in “social” interactions between simple machines, as well participatory human-machine art making. He is currently working on projects for both the Conflux and Art Under the Bridge Festivals, as well as preparing work for his fifth Burning Man.



The Dirtiest Word Known to Man Vs. The Happiest Word Known to Man

For my last five in five projects, I wanted to do something completely different from anything I had done thus far. As I’ve been focused mainly on making physical things, and finishing the Arrow Flag kept me up half the night, the thought of touching any sort of material or doing any wiring made me cringe a little, it was more then clear that an alternative form of expression was necessary.

Anyone who has ever spent time building anything knows that frustrations can mount quite quickly during the process. If you’ve ever spent anytime in the P-comp lab on the ITP floor, it’s more then likely that you’ve heard people venting these frustrations, often in the form of loud expletives. Swearing, for whatever reasons, is probably one of the most common forms of expression on the planet. Profanity almost always captures the listener’s attention, and nearly always conveys a definite mood or point.

I am no stranger to foul language, and often surprise myself with my mutterings when a task isn’t going as easily as I had originally hoped. Last night, while finishing up my project, I found myself repeating a series of words over and over and over again. At one point, around 4 am, the words seemed to blend into their own incomprehensible sound, forming the ultimate dirty word.

Today, for my last 5-in-5, I decided to keep things pretty simple and recreate a vulgar blended word for all to hear. After spending some time search for a definitive list of “swear’ words, I found that the most comprehensive and respected collection seemed to belong to the late George Carlin, from his routine “ Seven Dirty Words You Can Never Say on Television.” For those of you not familiar with the routine (and you really should be), Carlin also lists three “auxiliary” words in addition to the original seven, all ten of which are guaranteed to get you in immediate trouble with the FCC. I won’t repeat the words by themselves, but you can find the list on Wikipedia, ihttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7_words, if you are interested). Some of these curses are far too harsh for my usual repertoire, but I decided to include them in this project nonetheless.

Next, I recorded myself saying all of the curses in Audacity, edited them, and then layered the sounds on top of the other. The result is completely incomprehensible, but, by my reckoning, should in fact be the dirtiest word known to man.

Take a listen, and don’t worry, it’s impossible to make out individual profanities: The Dirtiest Word

As a counterpoint, I also poked around the net for the ten happiest words in the English language. There were no definitive sources on this, but I did come across several message board/blog postings, and self help pages, listing “happy” words, so I used a medley of the ones that came up the most frequently.

The words were:


This, by all means, should then be one of the happiest sounds you’ll ever hear;

Take a listen; The Happiest Word

Anyway, I have to say that I was shocked by how similarly the audio collages sound. I expected that the “dirtiest word” would have much harsher “R” and “U” sounds, but instead has a sort of “shhhhhhh” sound.  The happiest word just sounds like a bit of a mess, really no surprise given the tonal variation amongst the samples used.

This project, though finished for today, feels like something that would be fun to explore much further.

In the mean time, feel free to drop as many D bombs as you’d like,

And I wish you a “???”  day.


5 comments | August 1st, 2008

The Big-Ass Arrow EL Flag

All lit up.

One of the biggest problems at the Burning Man Festival is locating all of your friends once you arrive. Cell phones are useless in such a remote location, email is useless (there are a few stations, but the lines are ridiculous), and GPS nearly pointless (Black Rock City moves every year, so it’s nearly impossible to know it’s precise coordinates). One of the most effective means of communicating with those not in your immediate vicinity on the Playa is leaving a message on a huge communal board, a system that quickly degrades into near chaos.

If one is lucky,  you may serendipitously chance upon a familiar face amidst the throngs…a truly amazing occurrence considering the forty thousand plus attendees. If you’re not willing to leave your meeting up to fate, however, the best thing that one can do is to inform their friends as to  the general location of their camp before arriving. Black Rock City is well planned, with named streets and an actual city grid, Despite this, navigating your way around a temporary tent city metropolis can be a bit chaotic.


2 comments | August 1st, 2008

Throwing Light

Take EL wire, add turntable, and long exposure time. This is what you get.

EL wire + Armature Wire + Solder + Clear Heat Shrink + Turntable + Inverter + Batteries + Base Block + Hot Glue + Double Sided Sticky Tape + 45 RPM+ A Dark Room + A Long Exposure = Sculpting light in the same manner that a potter throws clay on a wheel.

(man I love EL wire)

More to come….

3 comments | July 31st, 2008

Location Scouting for Art Under the Bridge

So, I’m a bit late in posting, and I have to apologize for that. Unfortunately, at around four in the morning last night, I realized that my second 5-in-5 project was getting completely out of hand, possibly better suited for a weeks worth of experimentation and building then a day. I may try and simplify and rebuild for Friday, we’ll see.

Anyway, yesterday morning/afternoon I had another project to deal with, location scouting. I’m lucky enough to have a small installation in the Art Under the Bridge Festival in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), Brooklyn, and yesterday the folks at the DUMBO Arts Commission asked me to come down and meet with them. I’m incredibly excited to be a part of this, and pretty nervous at the same time. I’m calling the project “Stories from Things Left Behind,” an extension of one of the very first p-comp project I ever worked on (“Trash Talk” with Dave Overholt and EJ Park).

“Stories From Things Left Behind” is about a series of discarded objects: a shipping crate, a few kids’ lunch boxes, a briefcase, a steamer trunk, and a record case, all abandoned in a trash heap. The objects themselves will be outfitted with carefully hidden Arduinos, motors, speakers, and small LED lighting systems, enabling them the tell their “stories”. Inside the briefcase, for instance, it will sound as though a tiny board meeting is taking place, inside the lunch boxes, the sounds of kids laughing, the record crate, a 70’s disco party, etc. The objects, rejected and discarded, are understandably bitter; though they are more then happy to talk to one another, when a person comes to close (within 5-6 feet) they immediately clam up and shut their lids.

In order to make this all work, choosing the proper location is important. I need somewhere visible, yet slightly out of the way, so as to make the discovery of these pieces a surprise. The festival goes on for three days, and a lot of it is outside, meaning that dealing with rain is always a possibility. In order to determine when someone has wandered into the scene, I’ll be using ultra-sonic proximity sensors, which don’t do well in crowded spaces. Also, in order to use as few of these sensors as possible (I’m hoping to get away with just two for the whole thing), I need the space to be in a corner of sorts, so I can position the beams properly. All in all this is quite a bit to consider.

The DAC does an amazing job of working with local property management companies, business, and the city to allow artists to put their work in a variety of sites in the DUMBO area. This is amazingly accommodating, even maybe a little too much; I expected to be given just a few options, to make a quick decision, and then to be on my way. Instead, I spent six hours wandering around DUMBO, taking some snapshots, and weighing options.

Here are some of the spots I’m considering. I know that they look like nothing now, but come Sept. 26th, with a lot of luck, I should have everything up and running.

All in all, this wasn’t really how I planned on spending my day (my living room is covered in red fabric as a testament to this), but this was a project in and of itself, and I’m glad I got it done.

5 comments | July 31st, 2008

Free.P.S. (Freedom from Positioning Systems)

It seems not all that long ago that most of us had little idea about our exact locations on the planet the majority of our days. Many of us who used to be content wandering city streets, now instead poke away at our IPhones for constant direction and advice. It is nearly impossible to navigate an automobile any more without an automated voice correcting your every move, dryly informing you just how much time you’ve wasted by taking a wrong turn, or, god forbid, making an unscheduled pit stop.

It all seems a bit silly sometimes, doesn’t it?


For my first 5-in-5 project, I decided to start working on a project I’ve had kicking around in the back of my head for sometime; A completely random, spin the bottle, form of guidance system that will never, ever, get you to your destination on time, or even on purpose. The Free.P.S. System is quite simple, consisting of an Arduino, an H-bridge, a switch, and an arrow attached to a small motor. When the user opens the cigar box, the arrow is triggered to spin at various speeds, changing direction every now and then. After a random amount of time, the arrow stops, and the user heads in the general direction that the unit suggests. When the user hits a dead end, or decides that they need to reconsider where they’re heading, they simply open the box and repeat the process.

Take a look at the Free.P.S. Unit in action below. This is a rough prototype, and it isn’t working exactly as I had planned, but you get the idea. I would really like to make this pocket/keychain sized, or incorporate an actual compass of sorts in the future.

Free.P.S. Demo

3 comments | July 29th, 2008

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