Research Critique 3 – The 5 Principles of New Media

Out of the 5 principles of New Media, I have identified 2 key principles that relates best to our Interactive Media Project.

The first principle I have identified is “modularity”. The modularity principle states that new media objects are object-oriented, composed of parts made up of smaller parts reminiscent of a “fractal structure”. Both are often made from independent parts which retain a measure of autonomy even if embedded in another new media object.

For this principle, our project fulfils the modularity principle as the various buttons that are connected to our bed are independent parts not directly connected to it. They are added as a separate piece which is embedded into the bed. Even when the buttons are removed, they can still serve other functions and are not built solely for our bed’s purpose.

The second principle I have identified is variability. This was a key paragraph from the reading which states that “a new media object is not something fixed once and for all, but something that can exist in different, potentially infinite versions” (pp.36). Manovich lists seven examples of variability common in contemporary new media, and also considers more foundational differences variability enables: for example, hypermedia elements and structure need not be “hardwired” as in old media. Variables replace constants, and data separated from algorithms (as in computer programming). But to some extent this variability is radically limited to selection from a group of pre-packaged forms: a concept Manovich will later expand as “selection.”

What this means is that any form of new media is not something fixed. It can exist in many different versions and it doesn’t include a structure. Variability can be found in hypertextual or interactive media where users choose different paths navigating through text, thus accessing different content. And this goes for everyone. This principle of variability assures users that their choices, thoughts and desires are unique to an individual.

How this translates to our project is when users interact with the bed, thus causing the lights to react accordingly. There is no fixed variable and every user’s interaction will result in a completely different outcome. This creates a singular unique experience for each user that is tailored to their personalities and how they interact with the work. There is no structure in this and each experience is it’s own.

These are the 2 key principles I have identified from the readings that related best to our project.

Body storming – Memory Foam

The body storming process allowed us to observe a participant experiencing our installation for the first time. We could understand how they interacted with the materials presented and how to improve the overall experience. Since we gave our participant zero instructions, we could observe how she began to interact with the mattress and react to the lightbulbs.

Here is a video of the interaction:

The initial response was slower than expected as she didn’t know whether she was allowed to touch the installation. The way she played with it was not surprising. We expected our participants to respond to the lights and react in their own way, by pressing in different pressures and areas. This was encouraging to us because she reacted in a way that we wanted her to. As to understanding our intentions, she was not clear until the description was explained, which was acceptable for us.

During the discussion, she raised the point that she did not know what to do in the beginning. In a way, this was not a huge issue because we wanted the participant to explore and interact with the installation in the most comfortable and organic way possible, without any instructions. She also mentioned that she hoped that there will be different sounds and lightbulb responses each time she pressed on the mattress.

After some thought, we realised we should indicate that the participant is allowed to touch the piece somewhere on the ground below the mattress. We will also explore inputting different intensities of sound and lightbulb response depending on the pressures and positions the participants’ interaction.


Research Critique 2 – i Light 2019

I headed over to i Light 2019 the past weekend with a couple of friends & was able to view all if not most of the installations put up. After experiencing them, I have chose 2 that caught my eye to write about specifically.

#1: Halo by Michael Davis

Photo: i Light Singapore Facebook

The work consists of a ‘halos’ or what appear to be giant rings that are connected & arranged together in vertical columns. According to the official description of the piece, it is meant to represent “the never-ending flow of the present moment”. When each of these individual rings are touched, they emit patterns of light and sound. Through this participation of past, present & future visitors, the interaction of this work aims to create a link between the people who have encountered it.

Using a motion sensor of some sort on the rings, when visitors touch each of these halo rings, they produce light and emit sound. The sound produced is almost holy-like, similar to the ringing of giant bells in a Church. There is an eternal feeling with the sound. The interaction is also quite fun as the rings are placed from eye-level to a height that’s almost unreachable. It was fun looking at different guests touching them and even jumping to try to reach the other rings.

The interaction in this work helps to connect the many visitors in a fun way. It explores the grand idea of the inter-connectedness of time & how our past, present & futures could be infinitely linked but in a fun & visually pleasing installation.

#2: Squiggle by Angus Muir

Photo: Shout Facebook

Squiggle is a large scale light installation that is made out of digital neon tubing built on a custom steel framework that covers across the grounds of The Promontory of Marina Bay. The work is visually pleasing to look at and at the entrance of the installation are a few joysticks lined up together. Using the joysticks, viewers are allowed to control the flow of the lights of a certain section of the work.

Controls such as ‘forward’, ‘backward’ or the option to change the colour of the lights are meant to be an abstract reflection of the multi-cultural world we live in.