Principles of New Media

One of the most undeniable statements is that of these principles being “general tendencies” than “absolute laws”. Where our project has limited functionality (and/or may not require it), these principles do not always manifest entirely.

The use of a computerised system in itself mandates the numerical representation. This is seen most clearly in how serial printing is possible (and crucial!) to the project. Where the project relies on sound, the numerical values of amplitude (volume) and frequency (pitch) are necessary. Furthermore, the output of LED relies on a code which identifies colour thorugh numberical values, e.g. rgb(255, 255, 255).

As shown in the video, almost all of the inputs and outputs must be reduced to numbers, to allow for analysis and conversion.

This is also relevant to the book’s claim that factory-based standardisation is a reason for, and consequence of, the tendency towards discrete representation. Evidently, the same kind of sound inputs will lead to the same kind of light outputs. I think it raises an intriguing question, on if it is truly right that our project reduces the subjective human experience to something so objective.

The book also addresses various ways in which modularity manifests, such as in the use of artificial intelligence and media access & organisation. Our system does indeed have a foundation based on modularity, in having separable output components like brightness, red, blue, green, time. However, this reading has made me wonder if this flexibility is something we ought to highlight. Currently, brightness and RGB values are all combined into a single LED pixel: Would it be better to separate said values into multiple pixels, such that colour shifts can be seen both individually and collectively? Or would it be better to keep them all in the same pixel, and only have the collective colour seen both as individual slices of time, or a collective temporal space?

Example. The left separates only by time, putting RGB all together. The right separates time and RGB, which may be more suited if red, blue and green were each correlated with different variables, like red = frequency, blue = musical pitch.

Automation is another segment which our project engages by default. The only necessitated action is that of providing input (creating noise, moving around to find noises): the algorithm does everything else, from receiving the input, converting it to numbers, associating it with other numbers, registering the time of capture, creating outputs. Unlike the previous principle, though, I see no means through which increased automation can improve our project.

Where our output resembles that of Pulse Index (2010), little seems necessary beyond the direct display of what was inputted (i.e. translation than extension) to transmit the message.

It is less clear if the principle of variability is sufficiently engaged. Our project obviously displays this, where the brightness and hues can vary based on the amplitude and frequency. This extent of display, however, still seems rather limited to me. After all, those alone are insufficient inputs and outputs to adequately represent the variances of a soundscape. The inclusion of timbre or directionally-based inputs and outputs might provide even more relevant variances to bring out the message clearer.

An example of variance of light as based on variance of sound.

Another interesting comment regards the customisation to user. While our project does regard the active user, a large portion regards the passive “users” (environment), such that variance is not tied only to the main participant. I wonder if this would be considered a negative point for variability in our case?

The last principle of transcoding is very debatable, in my opinion. Claiming that there are two layers, Manovich suggests that the computer layer and cultural layer influences each other in terms of systems of organisation. For example, our association of red with strength might lead us to code lower pitch = more strength = more red. The cultural layer is clear.

A conversion table for numbers to binary. The cultural layer is very clear: you can see how our human ideas of even / odd / multiples of 2 influence the foundations of the computer layer.

On a personal level, however, I’m confused about the computer layer. After all, humans made computers. If we built computers in a way comprehensible to us, wouldn’t the computer layer be but a somewhat specialised part of the cultural layer? The only defense I can really suggest for the computer layer is that it encourages a culture of efficiency, where the computer has much better syntax and organisation than us.

External Sources

[Midterm] im sorry we havent thought of a name

Where we are designed to see things from our own perspective, it may be difficult to perceive ourselves as nodes in an entire system. Our project aims to evoke an awareness of the interstice between the individual and collective perspective, particularly in terms of sound.

This wearable will thus allow the user to visualise the transforming soundscape around them (and by extension, their impact on said soundscape). This is done through the use of LEDs which change hue and brightness depending on the surrounding soundscape of both past and present, as picked up by a microphone.In doing so, the user will become aware of the gap between your sound as your own, versus as a part of an environment.

Incidentally, the form of the wearable is also meant to promote portability, such that users can freely roam to acquire different inputs.

More in-depth details can be found in our previous posts:

Here is a condensed summary:

The W5 prototype featured the actual shape of the project (as worn on the arm), while the W7 prototype featured the actual code of the project, as shown in the following videos:

Since then, we’ve made an array to store previous inputs, as per user feedback during the midterm presentation:

What are the changes you have made to your project since your initial sketches?

EC: I think the changes ultimately consists of message, and, by extension, form. (I work on a form follows function basis.)

Message, in that it was originally tackling the interstice between the viewer’s individual conversation and their collective environment’s conversations. The term “conversation” in itself forces two necessary conditions in the project’s manifestation: multiple participants and speech. The form would then have to represent these two aspects such that the participant can perceive the gap.

The reason for change mostly boil down to lack of engagement. There was an assumption that the viewer’s individual conversation is something they experience directly, where we only need to show the collective environment’s conversations. Consequently, the form was poorly suited to interactivity, where it only requires a passive collective. The individual may be part of the collective, but this nevertheless undermines the level of engagement you might feel, in lacking active participation.

Thus, the message changed, as mentioned above, to fit a form better suited for direct participation.

Liz: The shape that our project manifested itself have evolved many times, first being a sort of board for text to appear on, to a hat, to a glove, the main idea of it was still portability to sample as much inputs. Subsequently, the output for our project was also supposed to be sound to text, then sound to colour and a reaction round. However, we reduced it to become sound to colour, and finally evolved to ‘record’ the colour of various seconds/minutes in time to show the idea of interstices.

What are some users feedback you have incorporated into the reiteration of your project from the body-storming and mid-term user testing session?

EC: Previous changes made based on the body-storming session can be found here. (In essence, changing the form to be more effective, more welcoming, and more encouraging of shared than individual experiences.)

The most worrying and consistent feedback is on the clarity of the message. Everyone thus tried to solve this problem through suggesting various possible alternate messages and forms, like the individual versus their peers, or an interactive space, or roles in conversations. While they were all interesting, we decided to go with the aforementioned in that it best suits what we currently have, and our desire for a portable wearable which encourages moving around to gather environmental input.

Like users have mentioned, it would probably be more effective if there were more sensors and actuators, such that the effect can be more clearly visualised. We will definitely be working on that. (I also think that problem arises partially from that tests have been conducted in relatively controlled environments, such that the “collective” isn’t as evident. That may be a consideration for future tests.)

Another interesting idea which we plan to incorporate is a timeline of changes, which will again contribute to a clearer visualisation of the individual effect on the collective. It’s hard to visualise without some point of temporal comparison.

Liz: The meaning behind it is still very hard to grasp, since we did not record the gaps between sound in a very explicit manner, hence did not show the ‘gaps’ between one person’s sound from others/the background. But other than that I think the idea of using the work is quite straight forward.

Where do you think your interactive project will fall on the continuum of interactivity? Why do you think this is the most appropriate mode of interaction for your participants or audience?

EC: Maybe 75%? There are two main ways of interaction, emitting sound and moving about. Sound directly allows for individual input, while movement allows for the input of different environmental inputs. The third way is time, where a timeline of changes would create a more diverse output set. This, combined with that the code is such that it is difficult to replicate the exact same output, makes the piece pretty interactive. It loses marks in that it excludes sound quality and has limited outputs (i.e. only LED), such that the possible outputs are somewhat limited.

Liz: On a scale of one to ten, I believe a 7, because the project depends on person’s audio input to cause a change to the LEDs. The idea we are going for is to show the gaps between sound in the environment and the person themselves. So in order to do that one must interact to change it. The most appropriate mode of interaction in our case would be the use of sound for the audience.

Apart from responding to the user, does your interactive piece include elements where the content changes over the amount of time your user has been engaged?

EC: After the midterm presentation, yep! We decided that it’s necessary to provide points of comparison across time such that participants can properly visualise the impact of their sound. So, maybe something like, LED 1 = 3s ago, LED 2 = 2s ago, LED 3 = 1s ago, etc. It’s more a constant correlation than an increasing or decreasing functionality as time passes, though.

Liz: Yes it does, the idea is to have a record of the previous inputs for the audience to see the change of the ‘environment’ sound before and after you have interacted with it. So there might be gaps where no one ‘actively’ interacts with the work, but there will still be an output in the form of environmental noise.

Based the diagram above, which characteristics does your interactive project fall under? Explain why these characteristics can be used to describe your project.

EC: For classification, I think it falls under everything, but ultimately under that the user is responsible for all events? It’s up to the user as to what they want to be. For example, they could go to a quiet area and become the singularly valued collective voice. Or they could go to a noisy area and shut up, becoming unnecessary. Or, go to a noisy area and speak, becoming one of many. (Limited role is mostly entrenched in the fact that the possible inputs and outputs have already been predetermined.)

For characteristics, I would say it’s… an intuitive selection? It’s natural to make sound, and natural to notice there’s some kind of change. But also some element of the experience being monitored and used virtually and parallel world, since there’s a simultaneous experience between the LED display and the real world?

I’d say the structure is open, since the user is free to run around and get different arrays of inputs, although there’s some element of feedback about location (similar soundscapes will give you similar results).

Liz: forgot this question existed and will do it later

The Galaxy Reconfigured, otherwise known as I May Have Gone Over the Word Limit

Born in 1911, Marshall McLuhan was well-placed to comment on technological developments in a post-industrial, pre-digital revolution era.

A Summary of the Galaxy Reconfigured

The eponymous galaxy of The Galaxy Reconfigured refers to McLuhan’s Gutenberg Galaxy concept: a world in which new technologies reinvent the ways we think and perceive, through affecting our sense ratios. By sensing objective matters with our 5 senses, we form subjective thoughts and perceptions (as such, emotional interaction is seen as a byproduct of tangible interaction).

McLuhan elaborates further on the unveiling developments of mass media as the herald of an electronic age. Where society was previously constrained by single vision and Newton’s sleep, recent developments have triggered an awareness of simultaneity in perspective. In essence, there is a newfound appreciation for the collective consciousness as a subject and audience, than the individual point of view. This directly affects the arts through redirecting emphasis towards the impersonal audience experience than the personal artist opinion.

My Opinions

This reading resonates very much with me, since I’m studying philosophy and researching mythology. Thus I will respond as a student of both, and as a human.

Where my research is an experiment in crafting a false myth, I find his reference to the myth accurate: there is a tension between individuality and collectivism. It is extremely difficult, as an individual with unhinged desires and feelings, to successfully imagine myself as the consciousness of humanity. Creators today certainly still struggle to balance these: we cannot help but rely on our own experience, and we need to pander to audiences to avoid starving on a street.

A summary of my research project involving mythology. One of the hardest decisions was the inclusion of my bias towards feminism, transience and multiculturalism, which I still fear compromised how well it represents the society.
An example of a video game which poorly navigated the divide between individuality and the collective. While there was an attempt to appeal to a mass audience familiar with feelings of isolation and lack of direction, the excessive presence of the creators’ own opinions and interests distanced players from much of the narrative.

As a philosophy student, though, I find that McLuhan seems to give insufficient attention to the individual. Though he remains (admirably) fairly impartial, I feel that his comments are skewed towards holism. That is fundamentally at odds with how we perceive the world, where we consider ourselves individual agents than nodes in a system. This individuality is often demonstrated even today, such that I find it difficult to believe that we can ever fully embrace our existence as insignificant parts.

Was everyone else really as alive as she was? ..If the answer was yes, then the world, the social world, was unbearably complicated, with two billion voices, and everyone’s thoughts striving in equal importance and everyone’s claim on life as intense, and everyone thinking they were unique, when no one was. One could drown in irrelevance. But if the answer was no, then Briony was surrounded by machines, intelligent and pleasant enough on the outside, but lacking the bright and private inside feeling she had. This was sinister and lonely, as well as unlikely. For, though it offended her sense of order, she knew it was overwhelmingly probably that everyone else had thoughts like hers. (From Atonement, by Ian McEwan)

Objects from an exhibition on the Super Normal movement. This is an design movement which encourages the eradication of personality, to create intuitive products as defined by the culmination of human experience. However, are these truly lacking in personality? All these items must have been invented by certain personalities, who certainly had their own preconceptions. The perception that these are “nameless” objects comes only with our consumption.

Lastly, as a human of the modern era, I wonder how his comments will fare from now on. I personally feel that his claim about how technology affects perception is an unquestionable truth. If so, where is this current world heading? Might we see the resurgence of the individual as a backlash to the collective? Will the rise of technologies like VR/AR push us towards aural/tactile predominance? Are we stagnating in assuming that the visual should be our main form of information dissemination?

An example of an interactive design using sound to encourage people to throw trash. Personally, interactive art is a brilliant representation of that exploration of sense ratios and audience experience, where many artworks today experiment with various sense detectors and a reliance on the participant.

A final pertinent claim McLuhan made is the acute weakness of lacking experience. “A few decades hence it will be easy to describe the revolution in human perception that resulted from beholding the new mosaic mesh of the TV image,” he states. “Today, it is futile to discuss it all.” I think that we, too, can only wait and see how humanity transforms.


  • McLuhan, M. (1969). The Galaxy Reconfigured or the Plight of Mass Man in an Individualist Society. In The New Media Reader. (link).
  • Featured image (link)
  • Marshall McLuhan hyperlink (link)
  • Newtons Sleep hyperlink (link)
  • YIIK image (link)
  • Holism hyperlink (link)
  • Digital Narcissism hyperlink (link)
  • Atonement quote (link)
  • Super Normal image (link)
  • Critical Regionalism hyperlink (link)
  • Volkswagen Bin video (link)

Nature’s Breath: Arokhayasala, and its Relation to Interactivity

What a familiar smell, I think, as I drift towards its source. Pillars which arch inwards, unite over an unfilled space. Something about that emptiness beckons me to come hither.

Titled Nature’s Breath: Arokhayasala, this piece is heavily associated with ideas like death and illness. A Thai artist, Boonma himself stated that the purpose of this piece was “to cleanse and cure the mind in order to experience the condition of relaxation and mindfulness“. There is an evident relation to his affinity with spiritual healing and religion as a means of coping with his wife’s terminal illness.

Image from Wall Street Journal. Nature’s Breath: Arokhayasala, by Montien Boonma. 1995. Metal, herbs. 256 × 215 cm.

What I find most impressive is the use of scent as a form of interaction. There’s something intriguing (and also philosophical!) about the idea of interactivity which relies on a connection between extant knowledge and sensory cues. Through the act of breathing, one becomes conscious of a herbal aroma which evokes ideas of traditional healing, even before the artwork is seen.

Image from myself. Note the form, which curves inwards and appears dusted in earthly colours, evoking a sense of the natural. Additionally, the lungs in the center, a clear indicator of his interest in breath.

An interaction through visual cues is also evident, as with the lungs and the symmetrical dome, which resembles places of meditation. I am hesitant to suggest it resembles a stupa, simply because those are places not made to be entered, unlike this piece.

Regardless, I can see ways in which this piece might fail to engage its audience.

  1. Without context, an audience unfamiliar with Buddhism (or, at least, a basic understanding of Southeast Asia) might not find the form familiar, nor the scent appealing.
  2. The ordained inability to touch, to enter, creates a distance between the perceiving and the perceived, which is at odds with the sensory cues (which suggest intimacy).

In essence, awareness of your target audience is crucial to interactivity, as are rules which work in tandem with intuitive/inherent knowledge.


  • Buddhist Temples and Buildings. On Facts and Details. (link).
  • (Excerpt) In Search of Lost Time. (link).
  • Montien Boonma: Temple of the Mind. On National Gallery of Australia. (link).
  • Nature’s Breath: Arokhayasala. On Asia Society. (link).
  • Weight of History: The Collector’s Show. On ArtAsiaPacific. (link).

Prototype II, Flowchart, Logistics & To-Do List

Elizabeth and I tried making a better prototype based on the comments of the first body-storming session.


It’s an accessory on the forearm now. Glove? Watch? Eitherway, it needs space to store all the components.

In particular, we tackled the issues of:

  1. It seems to made to be extremely annoying
    • We determined that sound output was unnecessary and thus removed it, leaving the only possibly annoying thing as a set of flashing lights
  2. The message of “interstices between sound as singular versus as a whole” did not come across clearly as it was too abstract
    • We concluded that as long as the participants have some sense of “all the sounds I’m hearing are represented together through these lights I’m seeing”, the message has been adequately received
  3. The hat form is effective for engaging others, but not much the participant (who can’t see the output)
    • We changed the positioning to the forearm, such that both the participant and others are able to engage with the accessory effectively
  4. The accessory is difficult to approach, and appears to be an individual-based experience
    • We altered the form from one magnificent accessory to multiple petite accessories, such that it looks more approachable and can be worn together than alone

Instead of code which analyses the sound and activates the lights accordingly, this prototype uses my brain.


Note that Environmental Input, i.e. Type-B and Type-C, is a variable which can take on any value from no sound to extreme sound. Input Type-A, on the other hand, is differentiated here as either “existing” or “not”.

A flowchart is rather awkward for our project as our accessory creates outputs with or without your input (i.e. with environmental input), and your input can be involuntary (i.e. inevitable sound creation). Thus, we’ve created a flowchart with what is an intended sequence of actions, though the SPEAK action is always available, and INPUT TYPE B/C is always present.


We will likely aim to make as many as the amount of microcontroller boards we can procure (currently, 2 owned personally, 2 loaned from school).

Items required:

  1. Power: Battery*, Holder/Adapter
  2. Input: Microphone
  3. Process: Arduino Uno**
  4. Output: LED chips
  5. Circuit: Conductive thread***
  6. Form: Cloth, thread, whatever else is needed
  7. Others: Extra batteries


  1. Clarifications:
    • * How much voltage is required (what kind of battery)
    • ** Possibility of Circuit Playground
    • *** How to work with thread, i.e. resistors, safety (insulation), where to find
  2. Logistics: Procure microphone, LED chips, etc
  3. Code: Ascertain the output, whether it be reflected in brightness level, colour hue, or lit/unlit, and write the code to receive input, analyse it, and form outputs accordingly

don’t mind me while i eavesdrop

We decided to explore both options which we considered in class, where Elizabeth will make a post for the talking door, and I will make a post for the conversing billboard!

The original sketch.

While we didn’t determine the exact output, the possibilities are mainly narrowed down to light, sound and/or text:

The item in mind (a carried display screen vs wearable accessory) and exact output is unconfirmed (lights, sound, or text).
Example of various wearables and how it might be set up. All components needed are roughly the same, and can be hidden fairly easily due to its small size. Except for the speakers, of which one of the smallest, the Fostex Subwoofer, appears to be 13cm in height.

An even more complex possibility is of using speech-to-text code to create a direct replication than processed translation, for example:

Speech-to-text: Display various strings of text

Non-speech-to-text: Display various rgb values of light

An example of how it might work, which would be especially great in crowded places (assuming speech-to-text):




It may be possible that we will need a Raspberry Pi (for the wifi) or Circuit Playground (it’s easier for wearables).

Possible reference(s):

iLight Singapore, with two projection-based works

Somebody once told me that humans are biologically engineered to instinctively look out for moving images and flashing lights. Seeing how easily we were distracted at i Light Singapore, he was probably right.


Image of installation as shown on official website.

Shades of Temporality is easily one of the more interesting works presented. An homage to street art, it invites the audience to participate by painting onto the wall. The digital twist is that said paint is a video which only reveals itself when the roller detects that it is currently in the process of “painting”.

Interestingly, SWEATSHOPPE sees a much more philosophical meaning to their artwork. As the name suggests, it addresses the issue of temporality, where they are attempting to consider multiple layers of time: the experienced time of a participant’s creation of a canvas, and the edited time of a canvas moving separately from the painter.

An ordered list of how it works might be like this:

  1. Set video to play, but do not call in a command to project it
  2. Camera tracks presence of green LED (or lack thereof)
  3. If green LED is true,
    1. Detect X-Y coordinates of LED positions
    2. Store said coordinates in an array (to remember past coordinates)
    3. Send projector the list of coordinates
    4. Call a command to project the video at listed pixel coordinates
  4. If green LED is false, do nothing
  5. Somewhere, there is a button which resets the array to null whenever they switch participants
Diagram 3: Example of database system

This is a conclusion supported by both related articles and visible limitations, as evidenced by when we tried it out ourselves:

As can be seen in the video,

  • Lack of Z-axis detection: no matter how far from the wall, as long as the green LED is detected within the projection range, it will be registered as true. Their attempt to counter this is the button to activate it, which is affected by grip strength
  • Obstructions: putting the camera right behind evidently will make it impossible to write directly in front of yourself (an obstacle). In their defense, this is the best possible design, where the camera and projector must have minimal parallax error, and the roller is designed to make you subconsciously write above yourself than in front (it’s hard to wield a long item)
  • At 0:07, Christine and my lines intersect. I’m not sure why this happened; my only hypothesis is that there is some sort of supplementary background code which tries to account for fast movements/accidental turning off, perhaps something like this
    • If distance between green LED at time 1 & time 2 is small,
    • Assume that camera failed to track this movement, and
    • Fill in all coordinates in between with a linear function

Something much lower down the continuum of interactivity might be Shadow Exposed, which lacks both a feedback and database system.


Image of installation as shown on official website.

Like Shades of Temporality, Shadow Exposed is verily concerned with the nature of projection, though the focus is more on its relation with movement and light. There is an added layer of artist interest in attempting to let video “interact with the physical world”: in this case, by letting participants project their shadows against a backdrop of light and historical architecture.

An ordered list of how it works might be like this:

  1. Make canvas with light-coloured materials in the shapes of architecture, which shows up better with darker backgrounds
  2. Project video onto canvas
  3. If projector is blocked,
    1. Light does not shine in that area
  4. Background is dark, thus image is clearer

Already, deviations from the sensor-based interactive artwork are evident.

My only conclusion is that the fundamental issue lay with that, while technology was involved, the interactive segment took on a fairly traditional form. If I were to make a comparison, it would be with the way a primary schooler might do shadow puppetry with a classroom projector.

While the description might lead one to believe that the video feed changes when it detects your presence, it was a constant image which varied only in terms of shadow and light, which requires no programs whatsoever as opposed to sheer physics. Is this an issue in relation to the ultimate message? Perhaps not, but it does compromise the interactivity, where this is a comparatively passive piece.
Another issue may simply be insufficient contrast between shadow and light areas, where contents in light areas were still very clearly visible, and thus the presence of shadow didn’t “reveal” as opposed to “highlight”. For example, this sample image works well since it is truly only within the shadow that the buildings can be seen.


It is here that I wish to make a declaration, that a more precise lexicon may need to be established when speaking about interactive media. The term ‘interactive’ was used liberally to mean anything from emotional connection to talking with each other. Which isn’t necessarily wrong, but makes things rather difficult, if we wish to discuss certain types, such as sensor-based interactivity.

The question of how to identify interactive art also seems relevant here, where it is in hindsight that I realise that we had walked by this installation. (In my defense, there were many actual buoys with lights on. That is a very ordinary function of buoys. There was no reason to think otherwise.)

Then again, there is something rather endearing about a world in which interactive media has been assimilated into everyday life.

Going together with Elizabeth and Christine also led to an epiphany I might never have had otherwise: All the works were exceedingly founded on the assumption of being alone. That is not to say that it was required to only have 1 participant, of course, but that the involvement of additional participants was rarely, if ever, necessary. I find that to be a rather dismal state of affairs, considering that a majority of people would likely be coming in groups as tourists, families, colleagues… In other words, it may be worthwhile to have more interactive artworks which are founded on the assumption of companionship.

Also, surprise! DUNE, which I previously wrote about, landed here.


All other media was taken personally, with the exclusion of ones in which I appear, which are taken by staff member(s).

Understanding Interactivity, with a certain focus on Space

Isn’t everything interactive? The fact that we can perceive and influence things external to ourselves suggests that interactive media is a discipline that may transcend the technological, even reach back to whenever humanity gained sentience.

A work by the United Visual Artists (UVA), 440Hz, uses the human body as a basis to assert that possibility.

440Hz by United Visual Artists (UVA)

Where 440Hz is the frequency used to tune musical instruments, the body is similarly used as an instrument to tune the surrounding environment. What intrigues me most is perhaps the assumption that it is possible to translate certain kinetic movements into certain visual and auditory outputs.

This is done by taking the movements of the viewer as inputs, and creating outputs of light and sound around the viewer based on what was received. For example, a delicate flick of the hand may be but a momentary gleam. By adding up all the movements of our body, we create individualised canvases of sound and light around us.

The installation is meant to resemble a musical stave, a homage to the idea of the participant as the conductor, instrument, etc.

As a commission for On the Origin of Art, the intention of the artwork likely conflates both the artists’ tendencies towards self-reflection, and their response towards the origin of art. It claims that the body is inherently a medium of creation, one which continuously shapes the environment around us. Through this, creative expression manifests naturally. Consequently, the outcome of the project relies entirely on the participation of the viewer, limited only in terms of what type of output is generated.

DUNE, on the other hand, does not place this same emphasis on the importance of the physical self, as opposed to the significance of the experience.

DUNE by Studio Roosegaarde

May I be forgiven for being interested by the fact that the artwork aspires to be futuristic and natural, while holding the same name as a certain sci-fi novel lauded for its environment.

Like a dune, the artwork shifts and sparkles when the viewer moves. Studio Roosegaarde describes the purpose of the artwork as “enhancing social interactions between [the audience] and the landscape”, and I am not inclined to disagree.

A suitable comparison might be of touching mimosa, just that the medium has changed from plants to lights, from biological instincts to sensors. Based on the proximity of the participant, the lights switch on, or do not, turning the viewer into a trigger than a mere observer. Outcomes may be considered to be fairly limited, however, in that the audience only determines if the lights are turned on or off (and where).

Thoughts and Questions Which Really Should Not Be Addressed in Class

It might be clear at this point that both artworks assume the environment and the individual to be separate entities which can be brought closer by means of technology, but hold different opinions on the environment: the individual is crucial in that the world collapses without them, versus that the individual merely serves to amplify a world which can continue even without them.

Obviously, this is interesting to consider. Is the world simply a form of interactive media that takes form only because we perceive it? Or does it cease to exist once we cease to interact with it?

I don’t think this is a question we can ever be equipped to answer, though, because it’s very much a question of epistemology. Which is philosophy. I’m sorry. I’m really sorry about this.

Actually Thoughts and Questions for Class

Maybe a simpler version would thus be this:

Are there any means of identifying when the interactive space should revolve solely around the audience, versus still existing outside of their perception? This works on the assumption that whether the interactive space lingers or collapses without an audience depends on the message that is being conveyed.

McLuhan was one of the first to suggest the idea of passivity and interactivity in media. In Understanding Media, he suggested that the medium is the message, i.e. the form in which content is delivered sends its own message. Combine this with the fact that interaction in itself suggests that there are at least 2 or more objects which are in contact with each other. In that case, would that imply that the message of interactive media is, inevitably, that of relationships?

Additionally, both of these works focus almost entirely on physicality and external senses. Even if we try to detect things like lies, we can only derive our results from physical reactions like heart rate, which is not necessarily accurate. Can interactive media ever hope to capture the intangible, like feelings and thoughts, without relying on physical signs? Should it even aspire to, considering the likely repercussions on personal space? Although this is more a question of the progress of technology, or lack thereof, and thus possibly one that we are not equipped to handle.


  • 440Hz. By United Visual Artists. (link).
  • Dune. By Studio Roosegaarde. (link).


  • Chan, T.F. (2018). Design Must Be Inspired by Nature: Daan Roosegaarde. For Fortune. (link).
  • Hodge, C. (N.A.). Cultural Illumination. For Aesthetica. (link).


A.I. in Video Games

Humanity is approaching a moment in which technology and human understanding culminate, and video games is at that forefront. I may or may not write a short essay later, but everything I would say anyway is essentially in the slides.

Examples used: Assassin’s Creed Origins, Life is Strange and Bioshock Infinite (in that order). Also interesting to consider are games by Bethesda and Dontnod, as well as The Last of Us, SOMA, and Nier Automata.

[Manifesto] Individualistic Design (all that matters is what you want)


Good design is the ambition of modern progression: disdain the obsolete, favour the futuristic! Good design is the prioritisation of utilitarian consumers: disdain the unwieldy, favour the industrial! Good design is the simplicity of intuitive subconscious: disdain the excessive, favour the minimal!

Design movements ebb and flow, wavering between expansion and compression as environments and beliefs change. Even now, we scheme to eliminate the monopolistic artist, and involve the audience.

But, really, why should any of this matter? Shouldn’t the happiness of the designer come first?

We often revile the self-serving designer, shame them for their selfishness. If you want to be a designer, give up on what you want, we say. Focus only on the desires of your audience!


Let your design come from personal choice, untainted by societal, moral, and philosophical pressures!

There is no world in which you are worth less than everyone else, but there is one in which selfishness has another name, and that is individualism. To assert yourself is not shameful.

If you want flamboyance, irrationality, simplicity, order, or even to give up control, so be it.

Don’t be afraid. All that matters is what you want!