Complexity of Relationships through Representation of Gears (process + final)


As a follow-up of my recent mid-term project, which makes use of threads to represent the places people in NTU have visited around campus, I decided that there would be a better use of materials in representing a digital form of my concept. Without venturing too far off the use of circles, and cyclical nature of how human relations are formed, I thought that using gears that move would be best suited for this final project.

As gears are normally fixed with other gears, and moves according to how its neighbors move, this was a direct way of representing how one thing leads to another – similar to how relations are formed through communication and interaction between one or multiple people at the same time. Also, the type of interactions we have with people can trigger various forms of reactions – emotional reactions I would say. By trigger it could mean a dialogue, a presence, the level of closeness with a particular person evokes certain emotions that range from pleasant to unpleasant. This would mean that every person’s reactions are personalized according to such variables when presented at that.

(add video of two family of gears moving at different speeds )

In the video clip above, I basically showed Kristy and Biju about my progress in using gears – playing around with the delay, speed of movement using Arduino software. It was highlighted that some gears had different “personas” to these gears, it would in a way, represent gears which are “personalized”.

At the same time, there were several more ideas that came to mind in use of materials and technologies used, where an the interactive element could be formed by adding a sensor.  With the use of distance sensor this would show the viewer’s interaction with the said personalized gear – that would trigger reactions in both the viewer and gears too. And when we tie this back concept, it does show some relationship aspect in representation of gears.

drafts/ideas to show concept

process of making gears


This was the website I visited to get accurate measurements of the gears that I wanted.

I was able to get customized version of the gears that  I wanted – from tooth spacing, number of tooth, rack&pinion ( which would be used eventually) and this helped a lot in making and “image trace” these images into Adobe Illustrator. Afterwards, I laser cut them in 3 mm thick plywood in the laser-cutting room at ADM Level 2. Prior to using gear generator, I simply took images off google – but that was not the best option, especially considering you do not know the exact measurements of the said gears. Hence, with my limited amount of budget for purchasing expensive plywood, it would be best to be precise with what gears to add in your Illustrator file.


Afterwards, I put the gears cap of the gears together with the cap of the servo motor – glued them together and they would form a moving gear!

I made use of different kind of servo motors – but eventually the most responsive one was the small Sservo motor (180d).  That worked well.

I also used rack&Pinions – which are elongated rectangular platfors that has teethr esembling the gears. It would be moved by the gears from one end to another. I was given suggestion to add something that bridges two or more families of gears together – so that there would be an interaction between them. However, because I customized the shapes of the gears and its teeth differently, it was hard for me to make another set of rack that bites well with gear. Fortunately, I made a rack that bites well and moves with the gear ( Type C Gear).

code used





I had several files of code to experiment the movement of servos. By playing around with the code made me realize how it takes a lot of power for the three servos to play at the same time ( even though they are all bracketed together).

refinements made

The gears managed to move together – that was an accomplishment. I was very glad that the teeth gears bit each other making the movement quite seamless. The distance sensor could receive data of person standing close/further away from the gears, and this is shown through the various speeds or type of movement the gears made. Only Type A gears (left) moved depending on the sensor. The other two did not. This was not possible to make all three move simply based on one sensor – however with the help of Zifeng it was actually possible to do so by wiring it differently.


TYPE A (servo3.attach) – This is directly connected to the ultrasonic sensor, so this family of gears react to a person’s presence near the installation. Random function are used at distance of more than 60cm

TYPE B (servo6.attach) – This servo is not connected to ultrasonic sensor, so it moves according to the speed and delay stated above.

TYPE C (servo9attach) – This servo is not connected to ultrasonic sensor, so it moves according to the speed and delay stated above.



feedback post-presentation

  • Backdrop for the plywood holding gears could be of a different colour – in order to bring out the gears, focused attention on gears  (aesthetics)
  • Use of easel – which is normally used to hold paintings, changed the way we see gears on plywood when it is used to support them – especially with difference in movement of object
  • With 3 “families” of gears, it would be better if one family affect the negihbouring one, followed by the next one – with the ultrasonic as the trigger
  • deliberate probabilities – where there are 3 outcomes in terms of type of movement, however use a random function to get 1/3 probabilty of that outcome

Mid-Term: Non-Linear



Feedback for mid term project
– mapping of aeroplanes with no backdrop of location
-digital evolution of this project – map – using processing
– colour of threads to represent certain  type of people, and location most frequented – most frequented
– observe people’s reactions
– make work appear approachable -strings tied make ot look like its about to drop, make a concrete stand so that passerby can see this work and feel confident about making it appear still
– remove instruction board

Visit to Jimmy Ong’s Work ” Poverty Quilt/ A Year In Java” at Asian Civilization Museum

“The most formidable enemy of a man is his own conscience”

Without leaving him the means of avoiding it, which always brings his crimes before his eyes



Recitation – babat

First song is about the day British company freed Yogyakarta whic his n 1700 in java calendar

12 june 1812

2nd song – about the british invade Yog, looting of items from kampong

colonialism of hava – suffered damage

making a link between those who suffered and singaporeans who had not suffered this ordeal

from what i understand about this – he seems to point towards persuading partiicpants to empathze and sypathize with the villages whos lives became more difficult than it aleady is, and ironically  how as singaporeans there’s so much adornment for sir stamford raffles, when he was involved in this looting spree as well


Week 3 Reading of Peter Zumthor’s “Atmospheres”

“perfectly tempered feel to his built spaces is immediately communicated to viewers,residents, visitors and the immediate neighbourhood.”

“atmosphere is an aesthetic category. “

Quality architecture to me is when a building manages to move me.

“I enter a building, see a room, and in the fraction of a second – have this feeling about it.

“emotional sensibilities – a form of perception that works incredibly quickly, and which we humans evidently need to help us survive.”

  • That view of seeing is already innate in us, heightened awareness of this would make us more appreciative of how first impressions work when we come across people and buildings
  • Besides appreciating, we also tend to reject things in a flash, as author described.

Compared to previous readings, the author has a very romantic perception towards buildings – by describing it as similar to how we form first impressions of people. He seems to associate it with good and bad feelings and he is very expressive in how each particular buildings makes him feel. It does point towards

The task of creating architectural atmosphere also comes down to craft and graft

The Island of The Dead Arnold dockin, 1880, Wendlinghausen

Swiss Sound Box, Expo 2000

Edward Hopper’s Early Sunday Morning

Personifying a building – like how a person appear distinctive from the rest, and buildings can be that way too – one appears outstanding from the other


Week 2: Janet Cardiff &George Miller by Mariory Jacobson


“boundaries between our technologies and ourselves continue to implode (collapse violently inwards); as we inexorably (impossible to prevent from happening) become creatures that we cannot even now imagine”

“[devices like discmans, videocams, and binaural sound equipment] embody the diffidence (uncertainty) of a global information culture both beguiled and betrayed by the promises of the cyber revolution (Kello n.d.).”

This sentence seems to carry a lot of heavy meaning but even after understanding the big words author’s statement seems to be quite hard to understand. From what I know, Lucas Kello’s definition  (Kello n.d.) of cyber revolutions is about new threats and dangers which require immediate intervention by the state, and this is because we live in a time of “global information culture”. I would assume the use of discmans, videocams and binaural sound equipment, which are devices used in her artwork suggests how these can be used to influence people’s way of thinking – which makes it a powerful tool.

“Sounds and dialogue become so authentic we find ourselves removing our headsets to distinguish actuality from invention.”

In Mural Lake, one of their works is an example of this. By featuring a movie theatre facing the visitors it puts them in the position as the viewer, and also “god-like” where he/she directly hovering above the miniature size theatre. With the added use of headphones to drown out any ambient noises from the place they were in, the viewers enter a different “actuality”, where narrator speaks to them in a way that sounds very personal.  think using Janet Cardiff’s soft and persuasive tone in the audio seems to bring out that part, and it plays out well with the clip The Muriel Lake Incident,1999 + AlterBahnof Video Walk, 2012. Her narration seems to be telling the audience how to think according to what she thinks, and this play around a person’s line of thought does make the installation quite immersive. And it really does help that a human element such as her voice brings a person to see things from another person’s point of view. In literal form I guess this would mean the idiom “speaking her mind” directly at you. This “binaural” technique that she uses sees to be a recurring theme in her other videos besides The Muriel Lake Incident,1999 & AlterBahnof Video Walk, 2012 which has been effective in influencing the way people think and behave.

The Muriel Lake Incident,1999 @3:42

Kello, Lucas. n.d. “The Meaning of Cyber Revolution.” MIT Press Journals.

Week 1: Body,Personal Relations and Spatial Values Yi Fu Tuan

Front and back regions of the body is used as concept used in space

“The human being, by his mere presence, imposes a schema on space.”

“He marks its presence on those ritual occasions that lift life above the ordinary ad so force him to an awareness of life’s values”

Same structure and values of the human body

The symbolic advantages of upper stories of a house can easily be outweighed by their practical problems.

Islamic tradition – Kaabah, is not only the center and naval of the world but also its highest point

Frontal space is mainly visual, represents dignity , awe and commands respect

Back space is “dark”

This reading seems to revolve around the idea of bringing the concept of how our body postures are naturally and how it relates to space.

Circumambient space is differentiated in accordance with schema of his body.

People may work in the same building yet experience different worlds because their unequal status propels them into different circulatory routes and work areas.

By using the example of ADM buildings, there are made up of different floors, the upper floors are mainly occupied by staff, and the bottom floors are rooms for students, study labs, lecture rooms and workshop area. Since we have our own places to go to, it is interesting how the rooms that we visit often are different in terms of space and environment. The upper floors appear quieter, and isolated office rooms and mainly older teaching staff are there to interact with each other. This is a completely different setting in the lower floors where it the setting is slightly less formal and noisier.

With the way spaces are being constructed, the creator has a deliberate way of positioning people and space, where in real life situations– customer service sector facing entrance door to welcome visitors, are also quiet interesting to take note of. This deliberately planned usage of space also encourages likelihood of certain people to bump into each other, and above all, and empty space makes more room for more people to interact and increase possibilities of forming relations.

At the same time, in places like hotels or restaurants, visitors rarely get to see people pushing in box cartons or the stressful cooking environment at the kitchen – which would not be the best sight to see for them. However, in TV shows like Hell’s Kitchen, there is a division in place between the restaurant tables and chairs and the kitchen – by glass walls in place.

Being close combines two meanings of intimacy and geographical closeness. As the friend moves father and farther away geographically, emotional warmth also declines.

“out of sight, out of mind”

Alternatively, “social distance may be the inverse of geographical distance”.

Giant posters above at the start of expressway  is also a way to signal motorists that they are entering a long stretch of road – which is similar to a welcome sign at the front part of person’s house, and that also reflects how we construct buildings with the intention of making people more conscious of the spaces they are entering in a safe way.

Week 5 Reading “Critical Vehicles” by Krzysztof Wodiczko

Vehicles served as a means for enacting a psycho social machine

The subjects of that oppression were themselves often unaware of the extent to which they were an active component – a cog or a gear  – in that machine.

The use of a vehicle is used to represent a government system that is run by important elements that make up democracy – which are its people. The artist take on this appeared pessimistic in nature – where oftentimes citizens are unaware of their power to make a change to the system they are a part of – otherwise, as the main driver of social change they would have been the driving force.

the hypocritical life we lead when we take refuge in the machine of a political or cultural system while closing one eye to… our own passivity, or frankly speaking complicity.

The author is trying to show how as we active consumers of the culture and political system that we reside in, where we could choose to believe what they say they will do for us in exchange for our loyalty. And it also seems to dislike the idea of us being blindly accepting this type of norm, because it is easier than to throw an uprising against the government, which is much more difficult.

ideaosis – the commonsense life of well-calculated choice for navigating through the system by claiming a critical or independant perspective on it


If democracy is to be a machine of hope, it must retain one strange characteristic – its wheels and cogs will need to be lubricated not with oil but with sand. This will disrupt its symmetry and legitimacy and keep the machine in a kind of ethical turbulence.

The author seems to use the symbol of machine parts to represent a certain belief to how politics should work. The wheel and cogs are used to represent how followers of the government should learn to be vocal, and play the role as devil’s advocate in the way they perceive how the politics is currently being run. By “ethical turbulence” seems like the author is suggesting that it is the morally righteous thing to adopt this approach when ruled under democracy.

Democracy is ill, silently suffering, and we must heal it, make it whole, of the wounds from hundreds of years of forced muteness and invisibility impoased on so many of its subjects.

The author’s stand is that he seems to observe the shortcomings of democratic principles in general, where people who accept the majority seems to overlook the importance of valuing minorities or those of the marginalized.  Also, there is some criticism with regards to him and he aims to “shake” off this sheep mentality by making sure the voices of the “silence,alienated and marginalized” are heard.  He also appears like some savior or hero in this article, where he’s trying to win support of the good guys ( the marginalizeD) and to go against the “oppressor” namely the Uncle Tom of the country.


Week 4 Reading of Rafael Lozeno Hemmer’s “Illuminating Embodiment”

“Under scan” is an interactive piece which uses a tracking system to produce an audio/visual on a person’s shadow, as lone strangers walk in an open, lighted space.

By doing so, it projects a clip of a stranger, who is making some type of movements with his body and face – as if to entertain the the person who sees it. I particularly liked the way projection screen is customized to the stranger’s whereabouts, with the help of tracking system that predicts where the person will move next. It makes it highly interactive and gives an extra personal touch to it. I think the use of lights to create formation of shadows on sidewalk is a smart move Lozano has made, in order to detect movement of person and produce that interaction.

The use of the small projections, unlike that of the fully large scaled ones that draws a lot of blinding LED lights, this interaction seems to give off a different type of response. It seems more mellow, personal, more deliberate way of drawing someone’s attention without being intrusive. It seems like the content of the interaction is meant to invoke a certain type of humor in the stranger, with due respect to his/ her personal space – as seen in the way the clip fades off after stranger walks away. In the bigger picture, Lozano’s interaction “Under scan” is meant to be highly interactive, with proper accustomization to a person’s whereabouts – with due respect to his/her level of interest in it.

As mentioned previously, the use of small projection instead of large scaled ones could be possible form of work. But I guess in relation to what was mentioned in the article, it is practical as well to project interactions in small sizes to reduce costs especially if it is a artist working on this project, and not a big corporation with a lot of budget.

virtuality as a digitally facilitated, purely cerebral state independant of the vicissitudes of the body.

And in his book “Mind Children” American roboticist Hans Moravec speculates that in
the future people will no longer need bodies as human consciousness will be fully transferred to digital realms.

The quotes above seem to suggest how the use of the virtual reality, such as the internet plays around our perceptions, our psychology, our way of thinking and manipulation of the individual’s minds. It seems like a very futuristic way of describing virtuality, but I guess it really holds true. We do not use any part of our body when it comes to using virtual reality, or the Internet for examples, and it is highly “independant” because we are detached from our body parts. The digital spaces is simply functional because there is a collective number of brains working alone / together to produce whatever information that we may need/want/desire from the anything digitally produced.

In my opinion, the way it says “human consciousness will be fully transferred to digital realms” seems to point   towards our transition from the physical world to virtual reality. And even if it is becoming a worldwide phenomenon in mayn developed high speed Internet places like here (Singapore), it does mean that living in the physical space “in the moment” woud require someone who is conscious enough to go back to the non-virtual reality. And that, I would assume would need to be deliberate.

In conclusion, I hope that this theory holds true, because in some ways it does end off with the idea that we could still connect on a virtual level regardless of any preconceived notions, stereotypes about a person. Instead, internet communities thrive on a similar human-like approach where we thrive to reach towards a common goal through a different , alternative reality.

Interactive Spaces: Project Ideas


#1 Folds of a bed are very telling that a person was there- assuming he/she did not make the bed

  • sinking bed in middle part
  • depth of pillow, not in its original shape
  • Movement of bed sheet moving, making of folds
  • Movement of pillows forming dents on its own
  • concept: make assumptions about how person slept based on what is observed
  • encourage person to draw an outline of how he/she had slept
  • Size of makeshift bed (?)
  • Location(?)
  • Task for participant (?)


Unpacking Body Movies by Rafeal Lozano Hemmer 

  • Shadows interacting with each other through projection screens 
  • Light beam also works with distance and size of people, where closer you are to light source, the smaller you appear 
  • The further away, the larger 
  • Spontaneous storytelling and form of entertainment

Unpacking underscan by Rafael Lozano Hemmer

-tracking system where predicts where people will move next, in device – helps in locating the suitable space to show a projection, where a person sees it 

– recorded clip of a person filmed individually – to entertain, grab attention of person (or not)

HIghlights /Interests of artwork 

  • The way projection screen is placed directly in front of viewer
  • If viewer walks away (Assumed disinterest), the projection fades off too 
  • Tracks people and their predicted movement 
  • Projection screen from above 


Project Development Idea ( Interaction)

  1. Video projection on drawing
  2. Continuous build up of previous project where projections video Bus stop, bus interchange, interior of bus
  3. Incorporate some elements Rafael Lozano Hemmer’s Body Movies, Janet Cardiff & George Miller’s Muriel Lake incident
  4. Binaural audio (narration of another person talking over audio of clip being played)
  5. Playing with shadows (interaction with subjects )
  6. Actual projection screen shows many subjects, but the actual voices from clip is from one of them and as viewer they can guess
  7. Identified by participant hover hand over projection, show lone subject matter drawn on canvas
  8. When we cover projection screen with hands/objects, drawings of previous “traces” of people are seen in drawing
  9. Drawings of place repeated, but differences are people who are featured in previous video are drawn in the next drawing

6.* Additional Interactive element eg sensor devices where a person who steps closer to work after a certain distance, it stops – another video is played instead – intention? Maintain a specific distance away from people there? 

#2 Project Development Idea (Analogue)


  • Show how these 3 stations show stopping points in how relationships start and end – bus stop is anticipatory stage, shared experiences with someone through bus journey (interior of bus) and bus interchange (alight,  marks end of bus journey – end of relations as we go separate ways) 
  • In Singaporean context, relations seem linear like it begins and ends, and then it repeats with different person that you mean.
  • Bus transportation as common feature, normalized way of moving around to places, especially for locals
  • However, relationships may not always be linear – non -linear, chaotic, beautiful mess
  • bus stop, interchange, interior of a bus as representative of start, journey, end
  • installed side by side
  • materials (?)  – wood to show construction in 3D form, 3D Printed
  • to show materials can be deconstructed, to show relations are not linear, they can be a mix of anticipatory feelings, ends, rebuilds again, and they  are shows in installations
  • * light source – formation of shadows to show sunlight affects types of shadows, morning-afternoon-night

Location: walkway outside of ADM Museum because when visitors walk past it they would read the work in linear format

Scale: (?) Nothing too large

Installation: Platform to support medium sized installations


Siah Armajani Exhibition At NTU CCA


Siah Armajani’s exhibition was quite interesting for me – there were many elements which carried some significant meaning to them as I learnt about him and his past experiences dealing with reactions to the political climate and the people involved in them back in his home country – Iran. They included the way he used similar-looking chairs throughout every installation in there, the use of small holes on some chairs to contain the pencils and the spaces which are meant to be inviting and communal.

Ana, the tour guide explained to us how the use of chairs were significant in Siah’s work – in remembrance of two political activists who were executed in electric chairs and died after being (falsely) accused of wrongdoing that they did not commit. In my opinion, the repetitive use of chairs and how it was being placed created a certain type of mood that does differ simply from the way the chair was being placed. In this particular photo, the chairs that face out the little shelter was actually reminiscent of the way prison guards sat when they are on guard duty. You feel like you are watchful of your environment especially of anybody walking past you into the shelter. Similarly, the way the lone chair are placed indoors seem to suggest a sense of isolation, and when I was in there I kept looking around, sideways and up where I can see light outside. It was quiet dark in there, but it wasn’t uncomfortable either.

The way each pencil is held up by a wooden stand in equal rows and columns seems to be quite an odd sight to see. I thought that was quite strange. It was quite functional in a way because I could use them to write down a feedback form towards the end of the visit. I tried to find some relationship between the way the pencils work with the chairs and the shelter. They could be there to remind you of the sharp pricks on a chair that is meant to show some kind of discomfort when you look at it from afar. There was one reclining chair where it was completely covered with the pencil holders. So, it was quite funny to see how it looks like you could sit on it but you actually can’t. One of my classmates and I were standing around it discussing about whether we could sit on it or no – and he decided to sit on it. Some of the pencils broke and that’s when he realize it’s not an actual place to sit. I thought that was the funny – but the curator walked up to us quickly and told us it is okay she will replace the pencils herself. I was laughing inside, but I couldn’t figure out how he could possibly think this was something you could sit on.

Moving on, the communal feel to the whole installation can actually be felt. There were no restrictions in navigating through the spaces – we could sit on the chair, we could pick up a pencil and write on them, we could pick out books in the booktrays, we could lay out a book on the book holder as we read them quietly, and we found it easy to talk in between the spaces because they were open. I guess the communal way of interacting with each other is evident here and it does feel like the artist is providing us an avenue that allows us to exchange ideas and formulate plans for a better the people we are a part of. . Overall, I felt that this installation was made really reminded me of the kampong feel to it, and it really does give an idea of what a community would look like. At the same time, based on the artist’s commemoration of two political activities who were executed in electric chairs, these chairs were quite nostalgic  in remembering how painful and betrayed it must have been for what these two people have gone through.