Rock all the Things

Chronicling movement with balance boards, marbles and paint

What's this?

Combining crafts with digital media, Rock All the Things is a game of balance and creativity. The interactive system translates players' movement into paintings on paper.

Not just for humans!

The networked system accepts different modes of input that return two values. These inputs can be toggled between:

  1. the distribution of ants in a concentrated space

  2. the tilt angle of two oversized balance boards manned by people


Computer vision analyzes live video of ants moving through a space. The central distribution point changes as the ants concentrate in certain areas. This point's x and y values comprise the two numbers returned and passed through the network.


People try their luck balancing on two wobbling boards. One person can control each oversized board, but it's more fun with two (a total of four players).

A Wiimote attached to the boards captures their pitch and sends this information on to the next level of the system...

The Frame

A wooden canvas pitches and rolls each time the ants or people move.

Speaking more technically, an Arduino receives mapped input values and sets the rotation of two servos controlling each axis of the canvas.

marbles & paint

The canvas lined with paper holds marbles dipped in paint. When the axes change suddenly, marbles zip around the frame leaving painted traces in their wake. The marbles eventually fall through a hole in the center and travel back to the paint trays. Bystanders choose a color and toss these marbles back into the moving frame for another go.


People work together to create a painting. The process combines traditional artistic mediums and networked digital communication. The game produces unintentional outcomes from one's intent to balance.

Over time, the paper in the framework is replaced and the painting hung to dry. People take away the work as a token of their collaborative unskilled creation.


Technologies: Processing, C#

Students: Ashton Grosz, Friedrich Kirschner, Andrew Quitmeyer, Christine Wu, Xiao Xiong, Nicholas Poirier

Digital World & Image Group at Georgia Tech led by Michael Nitsche