Principles Of New Media

Numerical Representation

In the Tree Project, we use PIR/ultrasonic sensors that is embedded with codes inside our project. The code contains instructions on what the sensor should follow when there’s infrared detected when a person walks by. With different variations of what PIR will pick up,  the timing of when it picks up senses cannot be predicted. However, PIR’s capture and follow-ups to do is predicted – and what happens is (when movement detected) is the sensor channel energy to the servo motor and then the attached hardware ( tree branch) will move. The speed of the movement of the servo motor is also determined by how PIR captures it.


As written in book, media elements such as images,sounds,shapes,behaviors, are represented as collections of discrete samples like pixels,polygons,characters). They are put together to form large scale objects. However, they do not change their identity and function.  In Tree Project, the media elements include the use of servo motors which functions as an object that moves 180 degrees left and right. The way they work is by extending the branch outwards when it is being ‘activated’ ( activated as in there is a sensor before it which is the PIR sensor, this cause servo to move). In our project there will be more than 5 servo motors functioning at different timings, and they play an important role in producing the interactive elements in our project. At the same time, they function independantly and they are only dependant in terms of whether to move or not to move. When one servo is removed, the other remains functional.


There’s 2 types of automation – one is normal and one is high-level automation. The former creates a “media object” following a simple set of algorithms that produces whatever the user wants.

Some examples of automated media creation include photo camera, film camera, film recorder and the ones we used the most – our smartphones. Our phones contain , the  recorders, film recorders and photocamera, which are examples of the previous principle – which are the new media forms which represent modularity as above. Our smartphones are automated in such as way where items or categories are labelled in the interface following the language we understand and speak of. And this allows the users to access and retrieve information easily.

Also, Nadine the robot from NTU, has high-automation embedded inside. The  computer presents itself to a user as an animated talking character.

Nadine’s facial features were added with some mechanisms that allows her to ‘express’ subtle facial expressions.Her facial expressions go hand in hand with her verbal replies as well. I think this dual function  (verbal + non verbal) would require a high-level automation, because the stimuli she receives will need to be ‘understood’ by the computer inside of her.

Another simple example is the use of Bots in customer-service lines in commercial stores – online and offline. Even though there is a “Virtual Assistant” attending to users’ needs, it can understand to a limited extent. This is because it is unlike real-life retail assistants in stores, the computer may not be able to use algorithms to cater to certain demands which are complex and unpredictable ( detecting and attending to demands of angry but important customer, following up with regular customers). It can offer simple and direct services.

This DBS bot prompts user when enter website, offering list of options best serve what you want.

As we bring this into the Tree Project, the automation would be the use of PIR sensors which take in some infrared light from the movement of a person, and it channels this piece of information into the servo motor, and then the branches move accordingly. I think this PIR-servo motor relationship has been mentioned several times in my essay already, so I guess this show how significant this mechanism is in the bigger picture.

At the same time, there is a similarity between Nadine and our PIR-servo motor mechanism – and that is in delayed responses. Nadine’s response to a question appear delayed, like how the servo motor’s movement response is delayed when it received a stimuli from a moving person. I think this part  can be controlled in terms of how fast the response can be but the speed of reaction (in Tree) is debatable as to whether we respond faster, or computers do.


In point 4, the author mentions “branching type interactivity, which means the programs in which all the possible objects the user can visit, form a branching tree structure. ” Besides the phrases reminding us of the Tree project we are working in, it is trying to show the different choices given when a user interacts with the interface. This is similar to using a touchscreen phone where we go to Settings page, and out comes a lit of sub-branches where we can select and make adjustments to brightness, sound and the volume of ringtone when there’s incoming phonecall etc etc. In relation to our Tree Project, there is a hidden circuit which interacts with movement of person, and at a particular spot where a person’s foot is detected, sound is produced. At another particular spot, another sound is produced. This allows users to know their choices they make can produce an interactive effect – in the form of playing music. The reason why we incorporated sounds in our Tree, helps the user to be conscious of how her walking feet near the tree can produce an effect.



Transcoding is what happens after we have computerized new media. As mentioned in the readng ‘to transcode’ something is to translate it into another format. When we link transcoding to the Tree Project, it may be a bit irrelevant. This is because the use of transcoding is not present in our mechanisms or the hardware built in to make our tree.

Mid-Term Progress For Tree Project

Prior to this day, the four of us split our tasks. We got a PIR sensor, and 3 of us came up with different paper mechanisms of our own for our branches. I made a crank slider, where there is a mechanism that moves the ‘branch’ outwards. I tried to use Arduino’s Mood Cue to set up a the crank slider and make it move. But this was unsuccessful. Instead, I presented the crank slider without servo motor. On the other hand, Gladys’ paper mechanism (cam slider) worked well with her servo motor using Arduino, and Jamie’s motion sensor worked as well. Ying Hui created several ‘twisted towers’ by folded pentagonal shapes – the twisted motion which moves up and down could be one way to show how branches ‘reach out’ and ‘withdraw’. These were all presented during our work-in-progress show as seen in the video and pictures below.


Feedback during mid-term progress show: 

Consider ways  to combine the paper mechanisms and the PIR and motion sensors into an installation of a tree

Consider paper as main material for our installation project

Consider the level of sensitivity in different  areas of tree

Consider ways to create extension and rotation of the ‘branches’ – The twistes trunk moves up and down when turned 360

Consider making a small prototype of tree

Consider scale and size of tree


Bodystorming For Tree Project

Note taking:

Interaction from participant:
Walks towards tree, hear bird noises. Leaves casting shadows instead of her.
Leaves moves her.

Comments from class:
Interaction with tree, branches try to reach out. Person can feel that they’re being touched.
Feel creeped out, like why are the trees following me

Sensors  what sensors/sounds?

Questions raised:
Does tree surround you?
Standing in the sun, you’ll look out for your own shadow.  but you see a bunch of shadows.

Participation: Single, one at a time.

Quiet, dark setting  see and hear the branches move.

Homework for Tree Project

We have 2 different plans for our tree project.

For the first one (1), we thought of creating a tree with human attributes. The branches of the plant, acts as hands, that would move closer to the person, as the person walks by, almost as if it is reaching out and calling to him/her. However no touch is involved. At the same time, when the person moves closer to tree, the branches shies away from the person, and pulls back. In response to the theme of Interstices, we use the tree as an installation because as these living things surround us, we tend to overlook these living things because of their stillness and quantity of them that is around us. By adding a human element, it shows the eagerness to connect with us as a way to bring us closer to those we often ignore.

As for the second idea (2), it is similar to the first plan where a tree is used a the object to interact with. The interstices part would come in when there are little shadows formed on the ground ( light source over tree). The shadows, would come in different shapes and sizes. When a person who steps on them, a sound is produced.


How does your audience experience the project?

(1) The audience will experience it by observing the way the branches move around a still tree, and also as they walk around the tree, the branches would ‘sense’ his/her and a branch would ‘reach’ out to him/her. At the same time, depending on where he/she stands, he/she would be able to hear some sounds while walking.

Is it for a single person to engage with your project or for multiple participants concurrently?

For the first idea, a single person would be good. We discussed the setting and decided that a dark, quiet setting with a single light source would create the best setting for this piece.

For second idea, multiple people would be good. It would be better to start off with single followed by multiple. Because the growing number of sounds would create gradual sounds and it builds up the sounds..

 What is the interaction or situation you are creating for your audience?

(1) A person will be able to walk around or past the tree and he/she would be able to hear sounds being made. With motor sensors attached to branches, the branches would reach out to him/her, close enough that person can sense it. But it pulls back after a certain time/ distance.

(2) A person will…

What is the intention of this interaction?

(1) Normally trees are still and they are everywhere around us. And because of this, we tend to overlook them, because there are plenty.. By adding human elements to it, it is meant to show the need to ‘reach out’ to people as a way to connect with them. We often overlook things/ or living things/people whom we see often, but we will never know that it/he/she is eager to reach out to us.

(2) …

How does this interaction relate to the concept of interstices

(1)  Trees are often overlooked because of their stillness and number of them surrounding us. By adding some human elements to them, through motor sensors on branches, and adding sound sensors on the ground, the person would be able to know that these trees are ‘present’.

(2) The concept of interstices for the 2nd idea is through the play of shadows. Shadows are normally something we tend to overlook and pay little attention to when we’re walking outside, especially at night. By being able to be conscious of shadows and their presence, with the added sensors, the shadows are a like a thing of play.

Singapore Night Festival 2018

The interactive Installation “Pulse” was the most interesting for me. There were a long drape of little cut out nylon sheets that was hung in between trees. From the way it was draped and the colourful light projection on the sheets, it seemed to give off a ‘cloudy-looking’ landscape from afar.


The main interaction part was at the front of it, where I stood. There were microphone and some sensors which could pick up sounds made in the vicinity. By making sounds, any form of sounds, the sensors would pick up the volume and tempo of sound made and as a result this would display a range of colourful lights that light up the sheets above. The louder the sounds, the more bright lights would be shown. The faster the tempo, the more lights flashed accordingly.  Fun fact – I was working there as a festival assistant for SNF’18. And since I was stationed there, I was given the chance to observe the many different reactions made by the visitors, giving me more insights as to how audience interact differently to this particular work.


What is the interaction created for the participants? 

Some were curious to know where the interaction part was, some watched from afar before joining in, and some were left confused as to what this whole interaction was about. Some were amused at first and then became disappointed when they expected more than just lights. And some, after prompting them to join in to my clapping, they were delighted by what they saw by interacting. Overall, there were plenty of varied responses.

The main interaction is to make loud noises such as clapping in groups, yelling shouting or talking in loud voices (as observed in participants) in order to produce effect of lights forming on the nylon sheets above them. The lights appear to ‘flutter’ like butterflies flying around in groups, and depending on the tempo, the lights “flutter” accordingly. This creates a interactive element where audiences can choose what noises to make and observe what effect their sounds can produce in the form of lights.


Can I identify the anatomy of this interactive system?

I would assume sound sensors or microphones are planted in the nylon sheets. This would allow pickup of noises and it would also pick up the tempo and volume of such noises before they get processed into the computer system. There was computer system nearby and it looked like it was recording the volume at that present time. There were also small square-like light panels planted on the grass patches. This would be where the lights projects on the nylon sheets hanging on top.

In terms of how these anatomy work to produce such interactive elements, the microphones/sensors would pick up the noises, gets processed into the computer system. And the voice tracker in computer system would be linked to how the lights are produced.


My first reaction was I was very hesitant to approach the subject of interacting with the installation – because I felt like it would not respond to loud noises, and that I was uncertain that this technology-with-art piece seemed a bit overhyped. Overtime, this installation proved to be quite fascinating especially knowing the responses that I came to observe.

Intro to interactive 1

This designer made an installation where these objects react to movement of a person. Normally, the object would react when there is a human feel to it and eventually it moves closer to person. However, when it gets too close, within a certain distance the objects goes back to its original position. Arduino is used here.

I am interested to know how this was created especially at the part where the object back aways when it reacts to “too much closeness”.

In the bigger picture, this project relates to idea of being sensitive. The objects could be a representation of someone of a sensitive nature who wishes to engage with others, too much closeness repels him/her. But then again l I could be wrong because it could also be seen as idea of human interaction being insensitive too.