In Praise of Loops

This week for Intro to Computational Media I was inspired by a Olafur Eliasson piece that I wanted to very roughly emulate and then build upon. Much of his work is elemental in nature and are large-scale installations and sculptures.  The particular piece that inspired me was The Weather Project.  In the Tate Modern he produced a large installation that replicated the sun.  The colors suggest a sun at sunrise or sunset.  It’s such a powerful piece.  To me there’s always been something  primal  about people gathering together to watch the sun.  Olaf transported that feeling to a place that rarely sees the sun in such intensity, London.

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This image also evokes ideas of sacrifice to me with all of those people laying on the floor.  It reminds me of old sun worshiping religions.  My mother is a Mexican archaeologist and I grew up learning about the sacrificial traditions of ancient Mexican civilizations.

 

I used this inspiration to direct my ICM piece.  I wanted something simple, the sun and rain, with a color palette influence by Shigeo Fukada. The scene would then  reveal itself as something much more, a sacrifice with a press of the mouse.   I’ve been While the piece still looks pretty basic I think this was the first time I dedicated enough time to my ICM home and having a goal helped me find and work through various problems.  Something I’ve found myself focusing on in my ICM pieces which was unexpected was colors and their complements.  Using colors to evoke emotions and trying to find just the perfect match.  It has nothing to do with code but I enjoy it so much in the creation process.

I made this in p5 a new software that appears to have some issues with embedded links but here is the site: http://alpha.editor.p5js.org/full/rJeUHMcp

and video of it below:

CODE:
var a = 0;
var speed = 3;
var on=false;
var redColor = 255;
var R = 69;
var G = 110;
var B= 162;

//var rain =();
function preload() {
img = loadImage(‘glyph45.png’);
}
function setup() {
createCanvas(400, 400);
}

function draw() {
background(204,85,44,8);
for(var i = 0; i < 10; i++){ fill(100); stroke(100); ellipse(i*60,i,20,10); } stroke(255); strokeWeight(4); noFill(); fill(220,174,66); stroke(97,74,23,20); ellipse(200,100,100,100); if(mouseIsPressed){ fill(255); ellipse(200,100,60,60); fill(0); ellipse(200,100,40,40); fill(178,7,7); image(img, 150, 250, 100, 100); on=!on; //R = random(100,255); R=200; B = 0; G= 0; } else { R = 69; G = 110; B= 162; } if (a>height){

a=0;
}
a=a+speed;

stroke(R,G,B,150);
fill(R,G,B);
for(var i = 0; i < 10; i++){

ellipse(80,a,10,40);
ellipse(120,2*a,10,40);
ellipse(160,1.5*a,10,40);
ellipse(300,1.2*a,10,40);
ellipse(370,3*a,10,40);
ellipse(40,1.5*a,10,40);
ellipse(220,1.8*a,10,40);
ellipse(10,1.2*a,10,40);
ellipse(260,2*a,10,40);
ellipse(340,3.2*a,10,40);
ellipse(380,4*a,10,40);
ellipse(0,2.2*a,10,40);
ellipse(250,1.6*a,10,40);
ellipse(350,1.2*a,10,40);
ellipse(100,1.4*a,10,40);
ellipse(220,1.3*a,10,40);
ellipse(320,1.4*a,10,40);

}

//}
noStroke();
fill(57,42,8);
rect(0,170,60,300);
rect(340,170,60,300);

}

Observation – UI of a Door Buzzer

It’s been somewhat of a stressful week.  Homework piling up compiled with the joy of moving apartments and all of the appointments and purchases that come with it.  On Saturday I moved the rest of my belongings from my old apartment in Williamsburg to my new apartment in BedStuy.  I packed everything into the car and drove over before unloading what I could manage onto the sidewalk outside of my street.  With arms filled with bags of clothes I buzzed my apartment so my boyfriend would let me in.  Nothing. Buzzed again.  Then I got intermittent noise from my boyfriend, Graham. He was trying to tell me something but it kept cutting out.  So I start talking to him “Let me in!  Press the key button!” After some more garbled messages the door buzzes and I make it through the doors and make my way upstairs.  This scene repeated itself throughout the day.  I ever more and more annoyed because I know I’m wasting time and should be doing P-Comp homework and let’s be frank, moving sucks.

 

The next day our friend Kerim came over to check out our new place.  He arrived early when I was in the shower.  The door buzzed and I heard Graham run over and try to buzz him in.  I could hear Kerim’s voice coming in and out of the intercom “Nope, not yet”.  Then a buzz.  Then a pause. Then his voice again “Second door didn’t open. Press it again”.  Then a longer buzz and he finally made it up the stairs.  At this point I had an idea.  Personally I think shower ideas are the best ideas. This pcomp homework assignment of observing people using a technology was right under my nose. I could do it WHILE moving.  I just needed another subject.  

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We ordered some food while I was unpacking. When it arrived I told Kerim that he should buzz the delivery man up.  First you could hear the buzzing but see nothing else.  Once he pressed the talk button to ask who it was the video turned on.  While he was waiting for the response he was still holding the talk button and you could hear nothing.  You’re only supposed to hold the talk button down when you’re talking yourself.  Not when the person outside is talking. You need to unpress the talk button to hear the other person speak.    Then he pressed the key button.  You could hear a buzz come on and off.  That didn’t open the door for long enough.  Then he realized you need to hold the key button for the entire time you want the door to be openable.  You could see and hear the delivery man walk in and out of the building but then it didn’t turn off.  We listened to the sounds from the street until I hit talk again to shut it off.

 

 

I really couldn’t hold it against them for not understanding the video intercom buzzer system.  I had had it in my old apartment.  I’m not exaggerating when I say it took me about 6 months to get it right.  Something never quite worked with the talk button it was always cutting in and out at both ends.  The environment in which it’s encountered is also not one that is conducive for learning.  Someone is waiting for you to let them in as you frantically try to open the door.  Then you leave the appliance to run to open the front door.  
The makers of the video intercom system were clearly trying to keep it simple.  There are only 4 buttons that can be pushed.  I think it could have been made better by adding an on/off feeling or some more indication of the exclusivity of the talk button (can’t talk at the same time). It has one purpose and therefore would be defined as an appliance not a platform. 

 

Although upon looking at the instruction manual I have realized there are way more things you can do with it. Personally I think they should cut the other options – why do you need to ring the doorbell for below? To surprise someone?  Also the time for how long you press the talk and key button should be specified or have more of a reference on the appliance.  Even in the instructions it sounds confusing. “Press the talk button within the set time (see something else) to response and talk handsfree” What is the set time? “If you press the talk button for at least one second while talking handsfree a beep will be emitted and you can communicate by press to talk communication.” The lengths are not intuitive as well – at least one second  to start press to talk communication, then you have to press it again to talk each time, and then you have to hold it for a minute to end it. One talk/listen button and an key button or one talk and one listen and one key button would work best I believe.

 

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Lab HW – Bubble Machine!

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House of Blue Leaves

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Growing up I was very self conscious about my drawing abilities. My drawings never looked like real life.  After 2nd grade I was done.  That was the extent of my visual artistic career until coming to ITP.  I still drew things but I never drew them with intentions.  I’d doodle and find figures that emerged from the ink.  I’ve loosened up since then and accepted that you can be an artist that isn’t an amazing illustrator but in the past two weeks I’ve seen that this tendency to just make things without intention and see what comes out of them has stuck. I just played with this until it felt somewhat finished.  When I was done and I was inspecting it it reminded me of the fight scene in Kill Bill at the House of Blue Leaves where this very blood is spilled on a snowy night.

 

This week I played around with animation.  We were tasked with  creating a sketch that included :

  • One element controlled by the mouse.
  • One element that changes over time, independently of the mouse.
  • One element that is different every time you run the sketch.

I made the center of the piece controlled by the movement of the mouse from left to right and with a random version of red.  This created a different background geometric shape every time you move the mouse from left to right.  The snow also randomly moved between a shade of light grey to white and was controlled by following the cursor.  Th red border ellipses (or the blood) moved randomly between (-4,4) either up and down and left to right and are also distinct every time the piece is run.  Finally, if you press down you can reset the scene and start all over again.

The code:

var w,h;
var xLoc = 200;
var littleDot = 50;
var yLoc=200;

function setup() {
createCanvas(400, 400);
background(0,21,251);

}

function draw() {
fill(255,255,255);
rectMode(CENTER);

w=map(mouseX,0,width,10,150);
rect(width/2,height/2,150,150);

fill(random(30,255),0,0);
ellipse(width/2,height/2,w,w);

ellipse(330,yLoc,25,25);
yLoc+=random(-4,4);

fill(random,0,random);
ellipse(xLoc,70,25,25);
xLoc+= random(-4,4);

ellipse(xLoc,330,25,25);
ellipse(70,yLoc,25,25);

fill(random(150,300));
ellipse(mouseX,mouseY,10,10);
}

function mousePressed() {
background(0,21,251);
fill(random(30,255),0,0);
}

 

 

 

 

Signs

This week we were told to observe the world around us and open our eyes to how much bad design is out there.  To think of all of the signs that are unclear and misleading, often overtly sexist and unwelcoming. I couldn’t help put think back to the signs I encountered when I was traveling through India and Cambodia.  Often terrible, I must admit that they did induce endless laughter and giggles and were a big source of entertainment on 20 hour long bus rides. Here is a sample of the types of signs I encountered:

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So intriguing! What KIND of road surprises does one encounter in India?

 

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This went well with an accompanying sign that stated “Be Gentle on my Curves”. This dangerous road in the Himalayas was definitely deemed female.

 

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Total agree! Unfortunately most of the drunk drivers we encountered ( and there was a good amount)were Indian and most likely didn’t understand this “witty” statement.

 

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And one final one that I encountered in almost every bathroom in Cambodia. I’ll let it speak for itself.

 

Our assignment was to use illustrator to fix a sign. I chose to redo not necessarily a sign but a badge that irked me every time I received it.  Over the summer I took a Unity Course through Playcrafting that was located at the Microsoft Times Square building.  Every Monday and Wednesday for 8 weeks I went and received this badge.

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-12-39-19-pm

 

It’s one of the most unwelcoming things a visitor could see.  The user friendliness of it is very much in sync with Microsoft in general.  At first glance it appears like you’re not even welcome in the building.  It reads visitor and then a universal bright red no sign over it.  The icon used is also clearly a man.  So double points for me. Then there are some redundancies: the whole building is Microsoft. You couldn’t possibly be visiting another company in that building, Microsoft is all 12 floors or so of the building.  There is also absolutely no branding or anything that would associate the badge to Microsoft.

 

To fix it badge I first took out the NO colors – black and red.  I made the type and borders a dark blue that is more welcoming and less severe.  I then made the icon androgynous and welcoming.  Less a dark figure of a man and more a clean tech sign person. I took out the redundancy of visiting Microsoft but put their instantly recognizable logo in place that added a nice touch of color.  Simple, clean, informative and welcoming.

Welcomed Visitor

Animating Shapes

This week I explored the random.  With the random function you can set parameters in which a random number is chosen.  In this example I set a small parameter for the color red of the circles and for it’s movement, x for one, y for the other. While random the end product is also inevitable.  The white box will be boxed in by the red circles I also explored cause and effect, the location of the mouse defines the size of the circle.  I love the color contrast of this piece.  It reminds me of that scene in Kill Bill when they fight in the snow.

Mask Switch

Mask Switch

For my first project for PComp I made a simple pushbutton switch circuit.

Originally I found this very cool malleable metallic material.  I wanted to undulate it and then wire a copper stick on to it so that when they touched the light would go off.  I molded it into the perfect shape before realizing that the material itself was not conductive.  I begin to cut it to see if I could shape it and then place tinfoil on top of it to make it conductive. The light was on as I did this and I saw the light shine through the metallic sheet.

Growing up my mom used to collect masks and would sometimes place candles behind them so the light shined through their facial features.  I recognized the potential for this with the little holes I’d poked through my material.  So I changed the plan for my piece. I cut out two eyes and mouth with a number of other little holes to expel more light.

 

At first I kept the button in a wooden box that I found it in that looked like a console.  But then I decided I wanted to do something softer that would be more pleasurable to push but would still keep the battery hidden. I soldered the wires onto the button and then engulfed it in foam with  purple fabric glued around it.

I would love to have created this with an toggle switch instead of the push button switch so it could actually be used as a lamp.  I like the aesthetic of it but going forward I would like to be a bit more creative with the way I get a circuit to work, not just a button but perhaps using movement or other less known conductive materials.

The Host

My father once told me about a sales technique where the salesman identifies your preferred sense and uses it to sell the product to you.  For example, if you are a more tactile person they’ll say “How great does that FEEL? How does that FEEL to you?”  If you are a more visual person “How great does that LOOK?” If you are more auditory “How does that SOUND to you?”

I’ve never really sat down and thought about it until know but I think I associate feelings with color.  (Not tactile feeling but emotional). I’m a visual person.

This made things more difficult for me this week when I was working on telling a story with sound. For this week’s assignment we were tasked with translating the sci-fi short story Bloodchild, by Octavia E. Butler, into a sound piece.  Bloodchild, is a very strange and captivating story that works with bug-like aliens on a foreign planet and their symbiotic/parasitic relationship with the human race.  It is also a coming of age story where the main character grows from boy to man over the course of one night.  He loses his naiveté and makes difficult choices for himself and his family.

I worked on the sound piece with Stephanie Koltun and we decided from the get-go we wanted to make our piece represent the emotional journey of Gan, the main character.  The whole story seemed metallic and otherwordly to us so we went about using our new found knowledge of recording sounds that we believed work well.

The first thing that struck me was the level of mindfulness that was immediately induced on focusing on sounds and trying to isolate them.  It made me realize how much noise we always have around us, and how well our brains drown it out.  The second thing was how different a sound can be when manipulated.  We turned a dropped pipe into a melodic instrument. One of the most strange sounds I added was lighting a stove.  When I slowed it down 300% it became so ominous and cracked, I used it almost as a metronome to move from one segment of our piece to the other.

 

When Stephanie and I  met after we’d collected all of our sounds we were at a loss on how to put them together to represent the emotional journey of this short story.  I found a very unexpected simple solution.  If we broke down the story in segments and gave each segment a color to represent the emotion, it immediately became easier to translate the written story into audio. I had to deconstruct it further into clean cut a visual narrative in order to be able to then transfer it to audio.

 

We made the first part of the story where they are drugged by the egg a purple.  It was an ambient, smoky purple at first foggy and comforting but with some underlying tension.  The next segment of the buildup was red.  It was bright and discordant and sharp.  Bloody and offensive and disconcerting. The following segment where the dialogue goes on between Gan and his brother and then Gan and his T’lic was blue.  It starts of muddied before achieving clarity towards the end.  It was an extension but a contrast to the red.  The final segment was green to embody acceptance.  It’s a dark and moody green in which Gan makes hard decisions and becomes an adult.

I learned a lot about my creative process in creating this piece in collaboration with Stephanie and personally for me, the biggest take away is how I filter emotions with colors.

 

 

 

Dissecting an Ad

In my hunt for a graphic design to use for this assignment I fell upon the work of Shigeo Fukuda.  I think it’s absolutely masterful. Much of his work focused on social and political issues.  I love his bold and limited use of a color palette.  Many of his pieces consist of two colors.  Here are two of my favorites

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MY PICK

Shigeo Fukuda was a master of negative space.  He used it to play with the meaning of the design. With hands reaching for coffee both in and out of the circle he alluded to how coffee can bring people together. This psychedelic circle also resembles an eye.  A very awake eye, most likely coffee induced.

shigeo-fukuda-ucc-coffee-2

 

THE GRID…..

The piece is symmetrical but I’m not sure how well it falls into a grid falling into vertical grids.

 

 

THE COLORS

The orange he chose is such a warm and inviting color.  Orange is often associated with food and stimulating the appetite. It’s inviting and welcomes the viewer in to enjoy a warm cup of UCC Coffee.

The dark brown is the color of coffee. It complements the orange and keeps the tone warm and rich.

The white serves as the coffee cup and keeps the whole design light

There is no unnecessary color.  Like the rest of his work it maintains 3 colors or less.

vl1-fugada-color

 

 

What does INTERACTIVITY even mean?

Going to a program defined by interactivity it is of the utmost importance to define interactivity itself.  Interactivity is a dialogue between two actors.  A cyclical process where one receives an input (listens), processes the input (thinks), and gives an output (responds).  That output becomes the input for the other actor and such the cyclical process begins.  All three stages on both ends must be successful to achieve a “good” level of interactivity.  

Something that came up in the reading that I found quite interesting is the difference between physical interactivity with interactivity.  Interactivity can also be mental but is that good enough?

 

Chris Crawford states that the thinking step is what differentiates talking about interactivity from talking about user interface. User interface places importance on speaking (output) and listening (input).  Most 360 videos could be defined as user interfaces and not interactive.  Where you look is the input and what is shown to you is the output.  There is no thinking step, no processing.    

 

There is a big discussion going on on what constitutes something as virtual reality and for me the key factor is interactivity. But as with almost everything it is  a spectrum,  and I cant’t say where you draw the line.  Looking around you with no change, not interactive. Looking around you to start/stop an action from happening.  Is that interactive? Maybe it’s interactive but not a “good” physical interaction? Looking in a particular direction to change the course of the story? Interactive.  Using your hands in a 360 environment to pick up, grow and shrink blocks before throwing them off into the distance. Great interaction? Bret Victor would at least consider that interactive.  In that kind of VR you use your hands as tools.  You “precision grip air”.

Crawford states that good interactive design merges form with function. For VR this is where the haptic controllers or body tracking comes in, because the tech is so new both the design and the function are clumsy. While crude, it still does a masterful job at  engaging us.  The first VR experience I did was Birdly.  I got strapped into a massage chair looking thing and had an Oculus put on my face.  Next thing I knew I was flying over the city of New York moving my hands as wings to manage the wind currents.  The real kicker in that experience is what really sold it to me was this little fan they put in front of my face.  Now I don’t know where that falls on the spectrum of interactivity.  I don’t think a fan is interactive at all.  But when your facedown flying over a city with goggles on your face the fan somehow convinced my brain that I was feeling wind and manipulating it.  There was an easy output and input but where is the processing? Does subconscious processing count? Was it even subconscious?

 

It’s funny to me that I signed up for an Interactive Telecommunications Program without really being sure what the first two words mean.  First week in I’m getting closer to getting a feel for what the first one can mean. Now…… telecommunications? Is all digital media telecommunication? Or is only interactive digital media? Where does the difference lay between telecommunication and technology?

 

My Ecstasy of Influence

On Friday I got to chase the trails of ghosts for homework. I lost myself in time listening to Jim Jarmusch in the East Village Poetry Walk before I was abruptly brought back to the present (about 5 times). Technical difficulties in 2016.  Tip: download the walk onto your computer and transfer it onto your phone before wandering the streets instead of trying to stream it.

It’s a long walk, the length of a movie. Jim walks you through the history of the East Village.  You hear stories of literary icons and visit their old dwellings. I thoroughly enjoyed it. You travel time to visit spaces.  You use your imagination to dream up what the streets looked like, what the people on the streets looked like. In addition to being educational, a form of entertainment and some could argue even of exercise; it was an unexpected nostalgic trip.  I could see great potential for this walk to be matched with AR (augmented reality).  To see postcards, letters and photos on the facades of the buildings that are being shown would be a wonderful addition.

 I went to NYU for my undergrad and moved to New York’s East Village when I was 17.  I quickly fell into the college stereotype (especially the NY college stereotype) of falling in love with the beat poets.  I definitely romanticized them. My first semester I read On the Road and the majority of Jack Kerouac’s work in the following two years.  Allen Ginsberg was my idol and I used to joke that my type of guy was a gay dead poet.  My best friend and I road tripped across California one year and went backpacking in India the next.  We’d write poems together emulating the mystic rhythmic quality of Ginsberg’s poems and see ourselves as the second coming.

 

Reading Howl for the first time inspired me to start writing poetry when I was in college.  Our other homework for the week, The Ecstasy of Influence by Jonathan Lethem, actually ties in quite nicely to this.  “Most artists are brought to their vocation when their own nascent gifts are awakened by the work of a master… Finding one’s voice isn’t just an emptying and purifying oneself of the words of others but an adopting and embracing of filiations, communities and discourses.  Inspiration could be called inhaling the memory of an act never experienced.”

The first poem I was proud of writing was my own personal version of Howl.  I used similar wording and borrowed phrases but I substituted it with stories of my first year of college, all of the messes and adventures we’d gotten ourselves into. I think that copying a piece of art is an amazing jumping off point.  It can help you with one of the hardest parts of creating art, just starting.  Now I don’t count my own work in this… yet, but another valid point made in the Criticism is that “second comers might do a better job than the originator with the original idea”.  It can also build upon and reinterpret it.

 

Like most everything in life the answer lies in the balance: how much you use, how you much you add to it.  

 

The poetry walk started off in St. Mark’s and  the next stop was  one Allen Ginsberg’s apartments.  I couldn’t believe how much Beat history I’d been so oblivious about in my immediate surroundings.  My time in the East Village was at the peak of my interest in poetry and Allen and Jack.   

I had my own memories to add at many of the stops along the walk that really added to the immersion of the piece for me.  My boyfriend back in college lived on Ave C and 9th.  He gifted me an 1969 printed version of Howl on my 20th birthday there.  If I had only known that Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac wrote some of my favorite pieces right above and by this Japanese Sake place where I read them.  I’m finding it hard to extricate my own experiences from this walk and offer an unbiased view of the content.  I don’t really think I can.  Maybe it’s my millennial nature but the first thing I thought of when hearing about Trotsky at La Palapa was that I had written a poem there too.  I found that very exciting.

This was the first long form audio piece I’ve listened to that matched up with my surroundings.  I’ve only recently started listening to podcasts and looking up and seeing visual references was surprisingly comforting.  You are right where you are supposed to be.  It also brought to light how quickly things change and how worlds overlap and morph into/from one another. At one point the narrator talks about how the crime levels in the Lower East Side at the time and how rival gangs coexisted on a block and watched cars burn for entertainment.  Fire trucks would only leisurely come to put them out. The Lower East Side now is so painted and safe. I wonder when the walk was updated.  The church across from Ginsberg’s first house is turning into a condo, but the basketball court next to it was still there. Will there be a point when so much has changed that it will be irrelevant? What is the lifespan of a walking tour?