Words That Stick

 

Words That Stick from Oriana Neidecker on Vimeo.

(Rough draft video, final to come with full working suit)

After countless hours spent soldering and coding the final version of our Pcomp/ICM interactive bodysuit is ready.  I have to admit I was nervous about how the project would end up looking but Elizabeth dances so beautifully she really brought everything together.  Tomorrow we present our interactive performance piece.

 

THE CONCEPT

We wanted to create a piece that comments on the unique lexicon that has been cultivated and utilized specifically towards WOMEN & those who experience misogyny, and explore the violent and prohibitive effect it has on their often marginalized or reduced roll in society.

We wanted to focus on the language used during the election (by our President Elect, Donald Trump).  For our project we had a plethora of sound bites to draw from.

In the performance a dancer is lit up and is dancing.  The user has a controller with four buttons that when pressed release Trump sound bites and controls the dance.  In the end the dancer is slumped over on the floor unable to move, before she rises up of her own volition and is no longer affected by the actions of the user.

The Audience members/users are responsible for pressing buttons, which have an immediate impact on the dance. However the dancer is responsible for a fifth button “clear”, that triggers a new set of empowering words by iconic women.

 

TECH DETAILS

We used four neopixel strips, one for each limb that is remotely controlled by a controller that we made and powered by an arduino. There’s a button associated with each neopixel strip and limb.  The strips all start out as blue and then with each button press that strip turns red and then finally turns off.  We achieved this by making a toggle in the arduino code so each button state cycled between colors. screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-1-45-28-am

With each change of the color of a strip the performance is affected.  At blue the dancer has full movement, at red her limb stiffens and she no longer has a range of motion and when turned off it falls limp and is unusable.  When a button is pressed it also serially communicates with p5 and releases a Trump soundbite.

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There is a secret 5th button, the override button, this button (which will ideally be on the dancer herself) repowers all of the strips with white light and renders the other four buttons useless.  With this the dancer regains her agency and ability to dance.

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Finals 180

The day after Trump was voted in as the next President of the United States we playtested our Pcomp final idea.  My partner Lindsey and I  looked at our party-wear GPS light locator clothes and were less than enthused.  We couldn’t ignore how we felt, the level of sadness and confusion that our country had voted in a total fear-mongering and hateful misogynist.

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So our Pcomp & ICM project took a 180 as we decided to make an interactive performance piece in response to his win.  We are enlisting the help of a dancer (fellow ITPer Elizabeth White).  Sticking with wearables, she will be wearing a bodysuit with 4 distinct neopixel strips.  They will cycle from red to blue to off.  We are also making a physical controller with four buttons each connected to one of the strips.  When a button is pressed two things occur, P5 releases a Trump audio clip such as “Nasty Woman” or “Grab them by the pussy” and the LED strip tied to the button changes color.  The change in color signals the dancer to alter her dance.  At red she has full movement of her limb, at blue her freedom of range is decreased and when off she can no longer move it.  Nearing the  end of the piece each button will have cycled through the colors to the respective limbs and she will be left without any light, crumpled on the floor.  The dance in response to the button presses and soundbites represents women losing their sense of agency.  However at the end of the piece a secret button is revealed, one that is only available to the dancer herself, which is an override button of sorts.  Once she presses it all of her lights turn white and the  are no longer affected by the external button presses.  Here are some initial mockups of the end visual result and our thinking in how to achieve that.

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Lights Finale

We decided to continue running with our midterm wearables project.  We’d like to evolve our LED sequences and play with other sensors. We’ve talked about making bracelets and leggings.  I would love to make a jacket as well, time permitting. We’re thinking about working with photocells, sound sensors, pulse and proximity sensors.  For our midterm the temperature sensor was about internal regulation.  For our final we’d ideally like to create a line of wearables, some internal, but to also include more socially interactive wearables.  Preliminary ideas are lights that sync up when you encounter other people wearing them (proximity sensors).  Also actually turning on the LEDs by touching each other, perhaps gloves that light up when you hold hands.  Due to the difficulties we encountered with our midterm we’ll definitely research our hardware more and test them out before committing.  For the microcontroller we’d ideally like to use a wireless or bluetooth microcontroller, like the Flora pictured below, but we’ll see how that works out!

Potential new hardware:

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Inspiration:

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Beginnings of a Midterm

Main idea: A piece of jewelry that alerts you when you have a  fever >100 F.

Lindsey and I are partnering for our  midterm and are leaning toward making a choker and maybe a bracelet with a temperature sensor and LEDs that flash red when you have a fever.  First we want to achieve a choker that flashes red with a fever and once we get there we’d like to evolve it to include other colors on the LED choker for fun.  To evolve this it would be great to include pulse sensors in future products.

Materials:

  • Arduino Lilypad
  • Temperature Sensor
  • LEDs – either a string of Neopixels or one big centered LED
  • Conductive Fabric, thread

 

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Synthesis

Synthesis was the marrying of what we’re learning in our Pcomp and ICM classes.  Our task was to get a p5 sketch to respond to a physical interaction.   I partnered with Melissa and we achieved the goal but we were a little disappointed with the extent we were able to run with it. We started out with a potentiometer as our analog input but for some reason it was super glitchy on both of our computers.  Melissa’s flat out stopped working but it had something to do with the software clashing on her computer.  We continued solely on mine and after getting our potentiometer to work, and then it crashing, and getting it to work again, and then it crashing we moved on to using a force sensor instead.

 

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The time lag remained but we were able to move forward with the force sensor.  We made the force sensor affect when ellipses appeared on the screen.  We’d done a few before that just affected the location of the ellipse or the color but we found the amount of ellipses shown in relation to the force more interesting.

VIMEO VIDEO TK AFTER UPLOAD

Synthesis – Physical Computing & Computational Media from Oriana Neidecker on Vimeo.

Hacked Bubble Machine

In Physical Computing we’re exploring analog inputs and played with potentiometers and servo motors this week.  We’re beginning to learn how to map our code which essentially creates barriers. For our piece Dani had the idea of creating a bubble art piece where bubbles appeared to form on top of a pedestal in a clear box.

We made a bubble machine with an analog input using a potentiometer as a switch that turned on the motor that made bubbles.  We got the machine to make bubbles relatively quickly but had issues with letting the bubbles be released into the air.  They grew and then popped. We  realized we would need something like a windshield wiper that would cut off the bubbles and allow them to fly off. We tried a few different methods but succeeded with mapping a servo motor in our code.  Once the potentiometer reached a certain amount we told the servo to do a 180 degree switch.  With strings attached on both sides of the fan part of the servo this pulled the wiper up and down.  Very hacky and with some glitches (the string needed to be in the right position to not get stuck), the machine needs to be turned on a few times and wiped a few times before it really gets going.  But – bubble maker achieved!!!  We used a cardboard box to simulate the pedestal but hope to once we work the bugs out install it in a stand with a see-through case on top.

Analog Bubble Machine from Oriana Neidecker on Vimeo.

 

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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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.

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?