Posted by Nicholas Makoto on Tuesday, 24 October 2017

For our test run, we tried to perform the effect of us merging our faces on the grid. The Grid being a row of 4 columns.

1 2 3 4


The visual effect we intend is for Grid 1 and 4 to have half a face, that eventually meets to form one full face, made up of half a face on Grid 2 and Grid 3

We also tried the “human 360 panorama” effect, where we stand together, with our backs to each other, and we pass the phones to the person on the right.

The subsequent effect is us rotating in the aforementioned formation, so that the visual in the grid is like that of a rotating panorama.

While, silly, we hope that the ensuing visuals would be both entertaining and open up other ideas for other formations in other livestreams.

Our concerns still lie in being synchronised, but we have a couple of ideas on how to make that work.

Seeing our test broadcast in the grid would probably help us troubleshoot some issues and where to go from this point.

In research I did recently for a presentation of Performance Art, I read that some performance artists consider re-performances of their work to be entirely different pieces apart from the original. In utilizing previous works by different artists and by bringing them into the virtual world of Second Life, I do believe that Second Front has indeed made the works their own.

But firstly I think the distinction they drew is important.

some people in Second Life might confuse us with a “performing arts” group rather than a “performance arts” group.

I’d say that Performance Art is closer linked to the Conceptual Art movement, where the idea/concept are the focus rather than the “traditional aesthetic, technical, and material concerns”, as opposed to the Performing arts (Not to say that the performing arts doesn’t have those elements occasionally as well).

And it’s easy to see these ties when as stated by Randall Packer

Grand Theft Avatar is a critical challenge to Second Life, questioning the authenticity of its currency, rules, and “lifestyle”

Which goes to show the thought provoking effect of their performances. Ideas sparked in the virtual world are ideas sparked in the real world.

THE ABSOLUTELY LAST (AND FINAL) SUPPER by Second Front + Link to the Vid

There’s also a certain beauty in what they’ve done to Second Life. As they said, most of what goes on in there is “shop, make friends online and participate in a virtual economy.” With the creators not setting a goal or end game, it ended up being a replication of the consumerist side of real life. But Second Front questions the “underlying assumptions of Second Life and what it means to be a virtual being in that space”. which I quote because I think it encapsulates the idea very well. So it’s kind of funny that while Second Life doesn’t have hard set rules and goals, they still broke the mould.

It made me wonder if what they do could be done in other online communities such as MMORPGS (Massively multiplayer online role-playing games). But I kept running into the limits of the world set by the game, whereas Second Life allows users to create and sell and spawn in their own virtual items which opens up so much more possibilities. However, this does not mean that it cannot be done in other programs/games.

NPC on the left, Real player on the right

MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft (WOW) have servers dedicated to Role-playing, where the people playing are “in-character” so to speak. They talk like their character would and not only that, but some people imitate the Non-player Characters (NPCs) such as imitating the guards that patrol the city; even getting the look down to the armour pieces.

2 Mins onward is where you can see them in-action. + another example

While seemingly odd at first, perhaps it’s not so different from Second Life. Virtual spaces and especially games are known for their use as an escape from the real world, and yet, Second Life predominantly appears to be a replication of the world outside. But it of course, has the draw of having no real world repercussions, and this has allowed Second Front to carry out a “bank robbery” something I don’t think a real world performance artist would be easily be able to even have the opportunity to do. But now from concept to execution, it can be done to even the most ordinary individual. Other issues that plague the real world artist such as location, space and budget constraints are also cast aside.

Second Life seems to be the prime virtual location for Performance Art in it’s flexibility and ability to replicate real world situations and happenings.

And sometimes, perhaps a little too much.


sch assignment

Posted by Songyu Bao on Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Today, Bao and I did a Facebook, co-broadcast where we continued our exploration of juxtaposing the same object next to each other. The difference being, that unlike the first time where we were both present in school and generally in the same area, this time we were in completely different places, our homes.

I’d say it was a great success, I thought that the visuals we came up with were surprisingly good. This was also a good an interesting look into the everyday common items that we “all have”. That being said, not everyone has a tv, or a couch, or even a home. So perhaps it’d be interesting used as an interesting visual to use for a campaign to promote the disparity in the lives of others. But in general, it does bring to mind how the same objects can differ.

It was also interesting to see people commenting and a reminder from a friend that “i can just talk” to reply instead of typing like i did in the first few mins of the broadcast. People whom I’ve never connected with in awhile also surprisingly showed up to watch, I found it interesting just in the fact that they popped in. (I also found it much easier to interact with them on the phone vs on the desktop). Made me wonder about how often our content is being seen by people, even if they dont comment or leave a like. Video makes it more apparent especially in view counts. After the video was done, it already had 27 views; and upon linking it to this post, it had grown to 42 views. To me that’s pretty incredible, that sort of growth and reach that everyday people can already reach a considerable number of people in such a short time.


I find it very hard to be natural in front of a camera, I feel myself stiffen up and I don’t feel like I can make many gestures. I often see the same thing happening with other people whenever a camera gets swung towards them. Hence, I often feel that anyone who does appear on camera, more often than not, is curating their image of themselves; both consciously and unconsciously. But generally speaking I find it hard to guesstimate what the split between the two are.

In the case of Jennicam, it seems very much like the intention was to be as “real” as possible, going so far as to copulate in front of the camera. She also started charging people for entry to her site a few months in and it often heard cry that once people start charging money it’s “disingenuous”. I personally don’t agree with that claim, and I’d wager that it stems from people who just don’t want to pay for things.

On the streaming site Twitch, once popular enough, Streamers can get a ‘subscribe‘ button where the viewer is charged $4.99 to support the streamers they like. There are numerous other methods to support the streamer such as amazon referral links and even direct donations. A recent addition would be Cheering, which really just is a fancier way of donating with built in-animations.

But prior to that streamers already had their own animation overlay whenever someone donated or subscribed. Below are examples of a ‘sub’ animation and an example of a twitch streamer’s layout, showing previous donations and recent subscribers. The layouts are not fixed and can look however the streamer wants them to look like.

In David Letterman’s interview with Jennifer, he brought up a point that people are really lonely, desperate and miserable and want to reach out and I think this is quite often the case. Although I don’t frequent Twitch, there is no shortage of people clamouring in the chat to have their name even mentioned by the streamer. Ultimately, that’s what all the donations, subscribers and animated bits are for, for people to feel like they are doing something with visible effect; and to get to do so is, as David Letterman said, comforting.

Now as sad as that sounds, the issue isn’t with people looking for attention, because it’s only human to want to be social and connect with people; “humans are social creatures” as the saying often goes. The issue is when these people are exploited. There are streamers genuinely there to entertain and form communities that people can be a part of and be welcome, but there are also streamers who clearly are there just to make money off these people.

There are people who say that donating money and subscribing is a waste of money. The counter argument and the one I agree with, is that’s it’s no different from paying for cable TV and I think it’s lovely that the option is there to watch for free, and yet, people still are willing to give and support people to be entertainers. To be able to do something you enjoy and earn money while still being able to provide enjoyable content for people, is a win-win situation in my eyes.

On Twitch, you can browse by streamer or you can browse by game, with the default sorting by highest viewership first. But browsing under games has a IRL (In Real Life) category, where the streamer is basically streaming their life in general. An example is the video below, where Andy Milonakis was streaming his time in Japan.

And without knowing it, these people are basically conceptual descendants of Jennicam.

Being constantly live is also not without it’s pitfalls of course, evidence of this are the numerous YouTube videos of “twitch fails” and streamers caught on camera doing all sorts of things, and even in more dire circumstances allegations with regards to the possession of illicit media. What happened was, whilst searching for something on his screen, the immediate searches that come up whilst typing had a suspicious title pop in, and this was quite literally only for a fraction of a second. How it was even noticed is amazing, and its then that you realize the power of hundreds and even thousands of people’s eyes peering at any position within the frame constantly. Also, once something is on the internet for a faction of a second, it might as well be up there forever. Below is the guy himself, talking about the ordeal that followed.

The internet is a volatile place, and being in that environment causes people to behave in certain ways, especially with the levels of anonymity that it can offer. Choosing to participate in such a stand-out manner, people streaming themselves have put themselves in this interesting position where they’re really quite at the mercy of the people that occupy that space. Both in terms of sustainability and viewership, along with the possible malicious acts that they are at the risk of incurring (read: death threats and swatting). And I would say, the fact that these sorts of platforms have not only survived, but flourished is heartening.

For the semester project, i am planning to make a tree that looks at people that approach it.

I’ll intend to use the i-cube X with small geared motor to facilitate the free rotation of the tree.

Optical sensors or Distance sensors which have an effective range of 80cm should be adequate to detect nearby people.

The diagram below is a simplified version of the device.

I’m currently having second thoughts on the fibre optics, as im not sure of the benefits of adding them and they currently feel like a very arbitrary complexity to the project and appear to be more of an aesthetic aspect.

Lastly I’ve considered adding auditory feedback as it adds both user feedback. The feedback is for when the device is in its different states of function; searching for people, finding a target and being locked on and facing a target.

The Surface Dial is an additional tool that works primarily with the Microsoft Surface Studio PC.

The dial is a minimalist knob that can turn freely to provide the user with a myriad of functionality, from tilting the canvas, switching between tools, and even changing colours on the fly; it can even adjust the volume (wow!). The dial can be clicked like a big button and also has haptic feedback.

sorry, but it doesn’t make the back of the pc translucent

Placing the Surface Dial on the MS Surface PC brings up a variety of different utility around the dial itself. Couple with touchscreen capabilities and the pen for use on the screen of the Surface PC itself provides users with a very smooth and innate ability to bring their concepts and designs to the digital platform without feeling like technical know-how of software being in the way.

The Surface Dials shows just how intuitive alternate modes of control can be, as opposed to shortcuts or functions stuck behind layers of drop-down menus. It also brings to mind how the current tools of mouse and keyboard can limiting user experience and in turn possibly shape software controls to be cumbersome than need be. It also doesn’t hurt that the graphics and animation around the dial are stunning and pleasing to the eye.

The Surface Dial however, isn’t the first of it’s kind. Previously there was the Griffin PowerMate, from as early as 2002. On Kickstarter there’s even a ‘Rev-O-mate’ from Japan priced at USD$75 as opposed to the Surface Dial’s USD$99, not including the price for the Surface PC setup which goes into the thousands (but it can still be used with regular computers without the on-screen functionality).

The PowerMate and Rev-O-mate might not be the stunner in conjunction with the Surface PC, but they hold their own for artists looking for cheaper alternatives for more intuitive control for color-correction, audio engineering and digital painting. The Surface Pro however, takes things a step further with it’s abilities and additional visual information and ease of use when placed upon the Surface PC itself, making something that’s actually been around for awhile, break new ground.

Hearing is something that once lost, is neigh impossible to recover fully; which is why it’s so important to preserve our ability to hear as much as we can. With concerts on the rise in Singapore and music and loud sounds being part of any event, people often end up unprepared in these high volume situations without any protection for their ears.

The Here One’s are a pair of ear-buds that can help with that, amongst a myriad of other things it can do. These ear-buds, besides listening to music, can augment the sound from around you in real-time. This is handy for music events where the user would like to protect their hearing and still enjoy the music un-muffled as cheap ear buds may do.

The Here One’s are controlled through a phone app, where you can fine tune a whole multitude of variables. You can EQ your music and the world around you, block out specific frequencies (eg. if you want to tone down a certain instrument in the band, you can alter the frequencies that the instrument lies in), you can even add effects to your world for fun, like reverb, distortion and even flange the audio.

The downsides however, are it’s battery life, 2 hours. It comes with a carrying case that doubles as a charger with a charge time of an hour. Some would argue that situations where you’d use the earbuds wouldn’t be much longer than 2 hours usually and that a larger battery would only contribute to a longer charge time as well. Which brings to mind an important portion of making devices, where a conscious decision has to be made to strike a balance in issues with usability.

There are also limits to it’s control over real world audio. If the volume is too low and the seal between the buds and the ear canal is too loose then sound leaks back in past the buds. This however can also be solved with appropriately sized buds/custom fit buds and perhaps tweaking noise cancelling software.

Lastly, the Hear Ones aren’t the only ones in the market, the iQbuds are an often compared competitor and of course there are pros and cons to both. I think either are a suitable purchase for any hearing protection/augmentation needs in this increasingly loud world.

For people plagued with disorders such as Parkinson’s, hand dexterity is heavily hindered by tremors that arise from the disorder. This heavily alters any activity requiring even the most basic of coordination. In turn, making the activity much harder, or even near impossible causing those affected to require more time or even assistance with these tasks.

Fortunately, there are people who have worked to make a spoon with stabilising technology that drastically reduces the effects of the tremors on the spoon, allowing those afflicted to once again be independent and capable of feeding themselves in a cleaner and more efficient manner.

The spoon works through an algorithm that detects the movement of the hand, decides whether the movement is intentional or unintentional, and then compensates for unintentional movement by moving in the opposite direction. This has eliminated up to 70% of the movement brought about by the various conditions causing these tremors.

The act of eating is something that those without mobility/dexterity issues probably don’t give much thought about, and would probably concentrate more on the food itself. But these sorts of issues only make themselves apparent once we lose the ability to function on a more regular level. Thankfully with advancements in technology, much like prosthetic replacements, we can aid those affected to regain their independence, and that makes a whole world of difference to them on a physical, mental and emotional level.


PS. They also now have the Liftware Level, which caters more towards those with limited arm mobility

The field-trip to the ArtScience Museum was a pretty fun one. Aside from seeing examples in class, it’s really cool to actually go and see some of them in person and actually be able to interact with some of them. It gave me a sense of the wider range of considerations that go into making an interactive experience, especially in the logistics department. Having only done interactive work in a school setting, the sorts of length and breadth of things in the real world appears vastly deeper, but not in any bad way; it’s more of an eye-opening perspective on the management, running and transport of being involved in a show like this. (and I personally can see myself enjoying this sort of thing)

Speaking on the works themselves, I immensely enjoyed the works on display. From Stelarc’s mixing of electronics, body and the senses, to modified babies and even silk worms modified with spiders to make a super strong hybrid silk.

But for now I’ll be touching upon Neil Harbisson’s contribution to the exhibit. I first found out about him through a TED Talk that he did previously, so I was quite excited about his work being part of the show. Neil is colorblind and uses this over the head antenna attached to his skull to convey colour through sound; I thought this was pretty fascinating in this state alone

Now in the ArtScience museum there is an extension of his senses though a replica bust of his head with an antenna on it as well.

This will send the sounds to his own device through the internet. (his device has internet capabilities alongside it as well)

The concept of having an extension, replacement and or addition of the senses sends me pondering about the various aspects of the whole case.

First off, having an extension of a sense is not something i’d considered before, being physically present with your senses never felt like there was an alternative option. Now Neil has 5 difference places where his sense of colour would be, he even has one in space. What if you could smell the place where you spent your childhood, no doubt it is not the same thing, but it would send memories flooding back. For the disabled and the immobile, perhaps this is fertile ground to explore the next best thing. Mobile devices have made our world a smaller place by drawing everything we can think of at our fingertips, but our senses are pretty much untapped. Movies and theme parks too have been heard to try and bring smell, touch into the visual experience, but nothing in the everyday consumer level (even with movies).

It’s exactly because of the complexity of our senses that it’s so hard to replicate and package to send around. In the case of Neil, he mentioned that it took a while before his brain and the software lined up but it’s now come to the point where his brain has actually changed in it’s processing; he even dreams in colour, his mind is making up the sounds as opposed to the device in these dreams, and he says that this was the point that he felt like a cyborg. It was no longer a separate device but an extension.

Another aspect would be the more “legal” side of things. Who’s to say when an extension is permitted, should there be any constraints in the first place. What kind of extensions should be permitted. Even for him to find a willing surgeon to carry out the procedure no doubt took a while to get right. Moon Ribas, whose work is featured right next to Neil’s and is a seismic arm for users to experience earthquakes that Moon feels in real time. He is the co-founder, along with Neil for ‘The Cyborg Foundation’; which deals with cyborg rights and promotes being a cyborg as being socially acceptable.

And yet, at first glance, all the exhibit is, is a statue with a receiver of information.

The gravity of the work with all it’s complexities, nuances, issues, conflicts and life stories of those involved are tucked away, out of the quick gaze of the exhibits patrons.