Interactive Spaces: WHEE-ling – Be Part of the Art (with SUHWEE)

by Lim Su Hwee & Sim Xin Feng

What happens when you take an everyday object such as a pair of bicycle wheels to the streets? As its name suggests, WHEE-ling is an interactive piece of work that aims to create a fun experience between the two (or more) people interacting with two bicycle wheels. Many may remember being fascinated by everyday objects as a child. Building castles in the air and imagining things as they never were used to be a favourite pastime. WHEE-ling explores kinesthetic, audio and visual aspects of fun and gives individuals interacting with the wheels a chance to reminisce their childhood.

Process: Lessons Learnt

1. Don’t think too much
We faced some problems at the beginning while we were brainstorming. We came up with many ideas but none of them appealed to us and it was quite demoralising. We realised we might have been overthinking the project brief and causing ourselves unnecessary pain.

2. Expand on existing ideas
Another learning takeaway was that we should not be too quick to dismiss an idea even if it is not working out. Sometimes, expanding on an idea is a better solution than thinking of a new one altogether.

3. Sometimes the idea is right beside you
The idea came about when we saw a pair of bicycle wheels in class and some bells and decided to expand on this.

4. Time is money
At one point, we had to choose between spending more time looking for cheaper alternatives (for the ribbons so we can get more in terms of quantity) or save time by spending more (on lesser ribbons). In the end, our choice to spend more on less did not turn out too bad!

5. Being observant pays off
We beta-tested the experiment on ourselves and a few of our ADM friends and found that they were quite receptive to the wheel. We also improved on our little spinning wheels so that users will have  a more comfortable experience.

The Experiment
When the wheels were first brought into the space, people were mostly afraid of destroying the wheels. However, the kids who played with it first showed how fun it could be.

A few of the bells fell off the wheel because it wasn’t secured tightly enough.
Kids proved to be the best at play! They didn’t hold back as much as the adults did.
Guess adults do have a little kid in them too!

It is quite sad to see that many of the users held back in interacting with the wheels. Many of them just followed what the previous pair did and did not vary much. We sometimes had to tell them what they can do to motivate them to have fun. The kids, however, were more experimental and came up with different suggestions on how to play with it. One used the wheels to play limbo and even wanted to play jump rope with them!

We also found that the use of bells to create sounds morphed the space into something else. The sounds interacted with the people around and brought them to the space. Overall it was an exciting experience for both of us!

Author: Xin Feng

Chasing imperfection.

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