Atelier Art Heist

Donato Liotino

Ermar Tanglao

Joseph Eiles

Sam Sylvester

Vijaei Posarajah

Waters Art Gallery Heist


Project Concept:

For project four we decided to revisit project two’s theme of Narrative Spaces where we had created an interactive murder mystery based around a soundscape environment. We had learned that by not providing a clear plot summary or scenario introduction most participants were lost and were reliant on us for help. The murder mystery itself was solely reliant on finding evidence through audio so there was a limit on the potential for interactivity. Based on the feedback given for that project we sought to expand upon the narrative space concept by creating opportunities for more interactivity within a self-reliant closed environment.

We had thought of the concept for an “Art Heist,” as a way to build upon the murder mystery and transition into an escape room. Much like a murder mystery a small group would interact within a curated environment with a goal in mind. For the interactive elements we relied on arduino to create keypad based safe, a potentiometer based safe, and laser security system based around flex sensors. Much like project two, for the soundscape elements we developed a script and recorded scenes that would be triggered when participants touched specific objects within the room. To allow the participants to be self-reliant within the closed environment, upon entry they  were given paper clues and played an audio introduction explaining the plot, the goal, rules and the tools that they were provided with. The art gallery environment itself was created to replicate a private gallery focused around renaissance art. This included renaissance paintings with invisible ink clues drawn all over that can be found using a black light as well as miniature statues on plinths. The participants are tasked with finding a specific art piece hidden within a locked box protected by flex sensor lasers. Like the murder mystery project they use a conductive glove to trigger scenes based around “memories” captured within the room for clues to find the correct paintings for numbers used to crack a potentiometer safe which holds the key they require. Below is the detailed sequence of events that showcase all the moving parts within the escape room.

Sequence of Events:

1) Enter room and listen to the mission brief (max) and receive an envelope containing

– Brochure of art pieces (clue)

– Security Memo clue for keypad (aid)

2) Timer starts with music.

3) Find number code for the security keypad in the security memo.

4) Disable security keypad (arduino) and find black light inside. (The black light is needed to identify painting clues)

5) Find 3 audio memory clues (max), each leading to a single painting.

– School of Athens painting (clue)

– Christ among Doctors painting (clue)

Niccolò Mauruzi da Tolentino at the Battle of San Romano painting (clue)

6) Search each painting with black light for a potentiometer number clue.

7) Crack potentiometer safe (arduino) with the 3 numbers found in the right sequence.

8) Get key inside potentiometer safe.

9) Open masterpiece lockbox with key, avoid laser security flex sensors (arduino).

10) Leave room with masterpiece before time runs out. (20 mins).


After settling upon the idea of an art heist we began conceptualization of our three puzzles; as we relied mainly on tinfoil circuits in our previous studio murder mystery project we wanted to create more elaborate and complex puzzles that showcased the creative potential of the Arduino. Keeping with the theme of the art heist, we bounced around several ideas such as giving the players a codex to decipher a code found in the paintings to blacking out certain words in a book to provide a password; after much brainstorming and deliberation we settled upon a potentiometer safe, a keypad, as well as flex sensor trip wires as they were possible within the amount of time we were given, we had a relatively good idea of how each puzzle would function in regards to sensors and circuitry, and they fit the theme of the art heist fairly well.

Studio recording for mission brief and audio scenes

3d printed statues & 3d modeling lock box. Discussion for keypad code.

Working on potentiometer, development of keypad lock.

Setup and testing of flex sensor lasers.

Audio editing for timer sound effect, incomplete potentiometer lockbox.

Invisible ink testing, and art gallery installation.

Preparation for gallery show.

Collaboration notes discussing traps within room, and initial room layout.

Video Documentation:

Max Patch and Sound:

Github Link:

The voice acting was all recorded using Adobe Audition in the audio lab with a condenser mic. To edit the audio I exported the session into Logic Pro. Since the scenes were recorded by person and not in order of lines, I pieced each dialogue line from each person into each scene. I cleaned up the audio using EQ and vocal effects as well as adding in sounds from the Legend of Zelda, Super Mario, telephone sounds, and any sounds found in the Max patch.


Grandpa: Vijaei

Narrator: Ermar

Security: Donato

Vernita: Ola

The Max patch is a number of toggles that trigger each audio file as scenes to play when the toggle is triggered; it’s essentially a simplified DJ sampler.


Puzzle One Code:

Puzzle One Circuit:

Puzzle Two Code:

Puzzle Two Circuit:

Third Puzzle:

The Final Chest is a fairly simple task to accomplish. The chest’s keyhole is surrounded by a series of five red threads. These threads are meant to act as “laser beam” sensors, like one might see in a spy movie. The end of each thread is secured to a wall and the other end is attached to one of five flex sensors. Over half of each sensor is taped flat against the wall opposite the other end of the thread so that the threads are taut, whilst bending the sensors as little as possible.

The flex sensors are each attached to an analog read of an Arduino with 10K resistors. The Arduino then runs off the power of a laptop running serial control, to send the five values as a string to p5, which then interprets and assigns the values to five variables. The p5 code utilizes the sound library and has a function to play an alarm noise file whenever a sensor goes beyond a designated threshold. It also has a small display on the canvas to help visualize the values which the flex sensors are reading and set values for it then to start playing.

Puzzle Three Code and 3D Model CAD files:

Puzzle Three Circuit:



The potentiometer box was designed with non-destructive modelling in Fusion360. When designing the mechanism for the potentiometer box, we calculated the dimensions of the base of the thinker, the space it needed in order to slide and reveal the hole, and the distance between the shaft of the motor to the inside wall.  In that way, everything moved smoothly without the statue falling off, the hole being too small, or not having enough room to store the Arduino components and power.

The box can be disassembled into four 3D printed parts. There is the base, which is a 165-centimetre cube with three holes in the front. Beside each hole, is a small slot for the potentiometers to hook onto so that they do not rotate when being turned.

The second component is a platform that goes into the box first. It is as tall as the servo is deep. The purpose of it is to create a platform for the chest’s key to be placed on as high as possible, to both provide room to hide the Arduino components, as well as make the key reachable since the hole on top is rather small for a whole hand to fit into. It also has a small section cut out in the back so that it can go around where the motor mount attaches.

The third component is the servo mount. The servo goes in after the platform and slides snugly into a dovetail slot. The reason the servo goes in after the platform and is not just printed as part of the base box is so that the platform would not need to have a large hole in it to fit around the mount, thereby exposing the Arduino and wiring, or letting the key fall to where the players cannot reach. The mount also has a small cylinder which fits through one of the holes of the servo which would regularly be used for a screw so that the motor doesn’t slide out of the exposed front. The front is exposed so that the wires on the front can fit in while sliding in from the top.

Finally, the lid has three main aspects. The lid is the same width and length as the box’s height and has an inset perimeter ridge along the bottom so that it does not slide off when the motor turns. The top of the lid has two holes in it. One hole is for the Statue to cover where the key is visible, and the second hole is fitted for the servo to poke out and turn the statue.

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