These Raspberry Pi Zero-powered hands are passive-aggressive

This art installation features robot hands controlled by Raspberry Pi Zero WH. Social media determines which actions the hands carry out.

Say hi to the artist on Vimeo

Artist Alex Frost created this piece, called Passive Aggression. He installed several animatronic hands that respond to social media data by making different gestures.

How does it work?

Stepper motors move the hands, and Raspberry Pi Zero WH reads social media data to tell the motors how they should make them move.

Passive Aggression robotic hands
Give me a hug

Tweets, Instagram stories, and Facebook posts from eight selected commercial companies are converted into a digital and robotic sign language. The movement of each finger is determined by social media data including likes, follower counts, and views.

The idea is that the installation makes the private language of social media public when the hands act it out.

Passive Aggression robotic hands
Miniature hardware

All of the Raspberry Pi Zeros are wearing a SparkFun Servo pHAT, which lets you control up to 16 servo motors via an I2C connection. The Servo pHAT is the same size and form factor as a Raspberry Pi Zero, so it all looks nice and neat.

A tiny little Adafruit PiOLED provides an appropriately compact display for this Raspberry Pi Zero project.

The deep and meaningful bit

I’ve done my best to explain the tech powering this installation, but I’ll leave the artist himself to convey the meaning behind it:

Passive Aggression explores the reverberations and merging between the physical and virtual. In particular the way that patterns of online consumption have been combined with our physical lives, shaping our relationship to our working and living environments.”

Alex Frost
We’re getting serious Edward Scissorhands vibes from this and that is NOT a bad thing

Alex is from London and has had his work shown in Canada, all across the UK, and at the 2009 Venice Biennale.

Check out more of Alex’s visual art at You can also follow him on Instagram or subscribe to his YouTube channel.

1 comment

Ian avatar

This is great! The bandages on the fingers made me laugh and I like the creepiness of the movement. It’s great to see how artists like Alex are using Raspberry Pis in their work. I’d love to see more articles like this.

Comments are closed