Alec Goss is a dedicated creative technologist, using a wide breadth of transdisciplinary skills to innovate, collaborate and effectively problem solve. Utilizing his expertise in design, digital and technical fabrication, creative code and illustrative and video production, he proves himself capable of finding solutions regardless of the task, creating a variety of professional short films, illustrations, inventive devices and more.
I created a unique guitar pedal device and retrofitted an accompanying guitar with embedded LEDs that integrate and interact with Arduino microcontrollers. Instead of using the standard rotary potentiometers (knobs) that, for instance, control an effects’ rate or volume on an effects pedal, I was able to manipulate values on a given circuit using a variety of sensors including a distance sensor, a joystick and an accelerometer.
A lot of conceptualization happened before any physical work was done - making sure I understood the basics of both Arduino/circuitry and analog guitar pedals and how they function, learning how to use a range of sensors to input and output values using a microcontroller and thinking about how I wanted the final product to be presented. I decided ‘hacking’ into older guitar pedals instead of building my own from scratch would alleviate the stresses of simply getting a pedal to function before even implementing any communication between it and an Arduino, thus leaving more time for tinkering with various analog-digital converters, sensors, etc.
One of the most challenging aspects of my thesis was being such a novice in the world of electronics. When it came to troubleshooting my circuitry or implementing any sort of new idea into my work, I had to start pretty much from scratch, scouring every forum and discussion board available for solutions, helpful tips, etc. But this ‘problem’ of being so new to this field has actually been a huge aide to the project’s development and my iterative process in general - each roadblock or hurdle was a massive point of learning that I used to refine my workflow and the way I go about solving an issue with electronics, coding and/or fabrication.
I’ve always been surrounded by music - performing, listening - while also always being interested in making, coding and design in general. If you were to ask me a year ago what my thesis would be, I most definitely wouldn’t guess it’d be Arduino-integrated guitar pedals. But this combination of my love for music with a field entirely unknown to myself before September has been a fantastic experience in learning and growing with an idea that I have found I have a true passion for. Adapting to unforeseen situations and finding inventive solutions are attributes I consistently work towards under the influence of creative coders like Michael Reeves and fabricators/designers like Adam Savage, I am constantly amazed with their level of passion and dedication for getting whatever they are working on to be the best it can be.
Without access to The College of New Jersey’s Makerspace during our current COVID-19 situation, it has made the fabrication portion of my thesis a bit more difficult than it originally should’ve been. Before our final days on campus, I had to make sure to 3D print various versions of my joystick in different sizes, colors and materials as well as finish the CNC machine work that had to be completed in order to finish the enclosure for all the electronics. Being separated from my regular resources, both people and machinery, created an odd shift in my workflow - after having a problem and being able to troubleshoot with others in-person that know much more than myself, I instead mostly needed to rely on myself to resolve the issue at hand. But while this wasn’t ideal, it was comforting to know that we as a class were all on the same boat while also creating an environment for learning that we’ve never encountered before.
I feel my thesis work is a testament of my abilities to adapt, learn and stay creative under nearly any circumstance. Being able to work in this kind of manner professionally is a dream of mine - I want to problem solve, be challenged and be able to utilize my varied skills to come up with new ideas, designs and creations.