Freeze – the end

how it started and how it went wrong

Freeze was supposed to be an interactive experience where a single user interacts with a switch in an enclosed room of visual and audio sensation; the switch freezes the user in time, pausing the installing in the sense the user “freezes” the world.

The idea of interstice comes from the gap in one’s life, as one looks at this frozen world through a more third-party perspective, detaching themselves from the moving flow of time in life.

However working alone with a bunch of foreign code was a task I tried to hard to achieve, yet not getting enough results. It started with missing a few classes due to medical conditions. But it wasn’t long before I realised I was starting to be further and further behind my classmates. Working along only further pushed the slow start since the reluctance to grind on the code alone slowly build up.

Mid-project progress

After some reconsideration, the idea was the refit the switch as something more ephemeral to fit the project’s theme better. Hence I started swapping to a light based switch using the light theremin.

Controlling with light however, was a wonky step. Since my project made use of Modularity – being build up of many small pieces that may be swapped in and out, and being transitional, where the project only moves forward from phase to phase, the light switch had to be very receptive, and one wrong detection ruins the experience.

A preview of what the project would have resembled on completion:

After freezing the entire screen from interaction, the next phase begins, which would be a series of frozen landscapes (similar to the previous video) built in a way to try capturing the attention of the user for around thirty seconds, before the user may begin to lose interest and release, bring the user back to “reality” which is the default state of the project.

So why was the project unfinished?

Poor management of time and overestimation of abilities. Missing out the chance to work with a group, I was plowing through the content alone with a slow start. While part of the issues could be solved by consulting the professors, the consultations start to become increasingly hard since the questions start to rack up and progress was underwhelming.

Finally I lacked the ability to picture it as an actual project. The installation was to be displayed in public but I had not reached that point of imaging the project. Needing to present the idea in a way that was pleasing to interact with was scary for what I have to show. In the end, I failed to deliver punctually, and the project never reached the final presentation.

If I were to rework the project, I would step it up sooner, and got more support before it was too late.

Freeze- Progress Update

Here’s an update to the project, currently named Freeze

Previously the design was to use a physical lever to trigger the mechanisms, however I felt that just like the project, the trigger had to feel more ethereal, hence I replaced it with a photo resistor to detect the user’s inhibition of light, which would “freeze” the project.

Based on the Light Theremin tutorial (video below), I attempted to create a reaction when a user acts against the project by performing an action (to be decided, will update in near future).

For the actual item, I’ve created a short series of second-long videos to transit from as the mechanism is triggered. Currently the first transition will be the regardless of which part the passive video is at, as I’m currently finding difficulty to make it seem like it’s a render of the current frame, hence the force freeze of the first frame (with the merlion).

On the other I have successfully managed to add delays in the project, where the mechanism will need to lose detection of light for a couple of seconds before the freezing begins; this helps prevent the mechanism from accidentally activating, which may spoil the experience.

Future plans:

Rather than having the user interact by blocking light, I’m considering working with the reverse, to have the user pick up and item (which was initially blocking light), hence having the light being detected will trigger the mechanism.

More updates coming in the near future!

Principles of New Media

Today, as the rhetorics, forms, and institutions of new media develop, scholars are aware of the significance of the new forms. But as happened with the birth of cinema a century ago, the details aren’t being recorded, as said by Lev Manovich in The Language of New Media. Its most important argument is the careful development of a record of the present state of new media which focuses on the complex relationship between cinema and new media. Manovich also confronts the problem of terminology for new media, suggesting several revisions for widely used terms, and proposing additions to the lexicon. 

The 5 principles that new media operate under, according to Lev Manovich are:

  1. Numerical representation
  2. Modularity
  3. Automation
  4. Variability
  5. Transcoding

Numerical Representation

Lev Manovich mentions how new media are “composed of digital code” and thus can be “described using a mathematical function” and can undergo “algorithmic manipulation”.

As with the usage of Arduino and coding, and those being the core interactions and activity of the project, it can be said the project can be broken down with 0s and 1s as with projects that consist or is derived from digital code.


New media objects are object-oriented, composed of parts made up of smaller parts reminiscent of a “fractal structure”. Being modular, elements of new media can be swapped out or modified to emphasize or define certain elements, directing or even controlling thought invocation.

With my project, the experience is split into multiple short phases of sound and video, in attempts to invoke certain emotion in a certain manner. As the user experiences short and separate phases back to back, it can be considered as a collage of media. As it is made of individual elements, the pieces can be swapped out for more suitable pieces if they fail to induce the ideas intended or even confuse the users.


To have numerical coding and modular structure allow much of the “creation, manipulation, and access”, projects can reduce the need for human control for it to function as intended. Automation is a big deal for it is what really separates new media from olden forms; self sustained and multi-part experience created by the project itself compared to a single experience from olden projects is what really makes new media “new”.

In my project, users only have a single item to interact with, which results in the experience to “begin”. Said project also ends with the same item when interaction with it ends. In this sense, the project is automated from a single trigger, and the user will gain the full experience from a single point and they would be led to the end(s) of the project.


“A new media object is not something fixed once and for all, but something that can exist in different, potentially infinite versions”. Unlike older media forms, new media is a more flexible experience, where the human interaction can lead to different results, whether they directly affect it, or the project passively reacts to them. The curator designs the project with the user in mind and have the project revolve around them, instead of directly controlling what they will experience.

In my project, the project stays in a passive state, until the switch is actively triggered by the user, where it will start flowing into various transitional states of sound and video before approaching the final stage. The timing where the user interacts with it can create variance in how they will passively experience the project.


This is the “reconceptualization” which occurs during computerization, the transformation of media into computer data. The same idea or object can be perceived differently when placed in different contexts, which can invoke different sorts of thought. By juxtaposing certain ideas such as radio controls, but placed in a digital view, while unnecessary from a physical point of view, does invoke ideas of older and complex forms of technology, and the gain or loss of certain elements when transcoding can create a new impression, for better or worse, compared to the original item.

My project derives from the idea of stopping time, where human experience is transcoded into a digital format through a screen. The difference in the sense of time and space alongside the view should create thoughts of detachment which is the idea of the project.

Interactive Project Sketch

  • How does your audience experience your project?
  • Is it for a single person to engage with your project or for multiple participants concurrently?

The project involves a single person entering a room surrounded by screens playing moments in peoples’ lives in the urban city, but in fast forward, making it seem like a collage of people living in the urban city. Slow Jazz/classical music is also being played in the room.

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

In the middle of the room, there is a lever; nothing else can be interacted with, hence the audience would instinctively attempt to pull it. However the lever takes some effort to pull, and effort is continuously needed to hold it down. When the lever is held down, within five seconds the collage of videos suddenly slow down and pause an a certain happy scene (such as a scene of a birthday party), out of many possible scenes. The music also fades out in the meantime.

Sounds of water start to play, as if the audience sunk into a large pool of water. Meanwhile the images on the screen slowly darken over time. Large bubbles slowly float out from the bottom of the screen to the top occasionally. The microphone on the lever also turns active and the audience will begin to hear sounds of their breathing after a few seconds.

After a minute of holding down the lever, heartbeat sounds start to play, with increasing intensity. After two minutes of holding down the lever, the scenery starts to change to childhood scenes such as playing in the park, in sepia. Sounds of nature such as trees swaying, birds chirping start to play. If the lever is actually held down for five whole minutes, the music fades out, and the screen fades to white, with black seeping in from the sides until everything turns black. The lever’s pressure will also increase, making it harder to hold down. Nothing else will change until the audience releases the lever.

At any point of the interaction, if the lever has been released, the interaction resumes to the initial stage, with the slight difference that the collage and music was not “paused”, but rather just muted for the duration; the audience will notice there was a skip in time in that duration the lever has held down. Additionally, if the lever was held down for at least fifteen seconds, once released, the lever would be locked, and cannot be pulled down again until the audience leaves the room.

  • What is the intention of this interaction?

The intention of the interaction is for the audience to feel the continuity of life in their absence. When the lever is held down, the is a pseudo imagery of sinking into water, and one has to “hold their breath” of sorts, as the need to continuously pull down the lever for the scenes to continue changing. The lever’s pressure will increase as the stages pass, so it is expected for it to be released after the second minute.

Once released, the audience will be able to notice a gap in the fast forwarded scenes as well as the jazz/classic music, making them realise life still goes on despite the lack of one’s input.

  • How does this interaction relate to the concept of interstice?

The interstice I’m working with here is the gap in life. When the lever is held down, the audience jumps to another space, some trapped in nostalgia and happy thoughts, but however these memories of the past trap the audience from facing the future, and hence when they return, they seemingly jump into a further point in the “present”. The idea of the lever not being able to be pulled down again is to show that a second chance does not always prevail.

Intro to Interactive I

Hug Me Coca-Cola Vending Machine

In 2012, a red vending machine was installed at NUS naught but “Hug Me” written on it. Instead of spending money, participants may hug the machine and it will dispense a can of cola.

Why is it that the Coca-Cola Company decided to have such a machine?
Would it work as effectively if the machine was placed at a public mall instead?
Do you think the project was successful?

Vending Machine Gives Free Cokes in Exchange for Hugs