After the last update, I bought the materials that I needed. Few days later, I got the opportunity to work with Galina to create the headpiece which I am really thankful for as it looked good and I wouldn’t have been able to make it if it weren’t for Galina! Thank you!
Adding eye tracking:
The eye tracking works well, but it is unstable and needs to be constantly pressed down by my hand.
After that, I kind of left the project as it is as I had to work on other projects. The lack of time really killed me here as I have overpromised the device, even though I know that they can be done. They just cannot be done within the timeframe given.
There wasn’t any new updates to the device as, conceptually, it is already perfect to me.
There are 3 codes:
1. Eye: The eye is an ESP 8266 wifi module connected with 2 3.6V lithium Ion batteries. This gives a total voltage of 7.2V that powers the servo motor, the 2 IR sensors, and the board. I think this was still too little voltage (or there was some complications) as it wasn’t making it work very well.
Auto tracking mode basically says, if one IR sensor is detecting a lower distance, then the servo will turn to that direction.
Sweep mode basically loops the servo left and right.
Eye tracking mode (code incomplete) is basically reacting to the value sent when the participant looks left or right.
2. Head (wifi): The wifi module on the head receives information from the eye and sends to the main arduino via Wire (I2C communication).
These lines of code basically sends the state data to the eye via Wifi, using Adafruit.io (this does not work yet due to lack of time)
This is for receiving the info from the eye, which is transmitted to the main Arduino via Wire.
3. The head contains the eye tracker, vibration modules, and buzzer. The code is simple, if it receives a certain value, it will buzz a specific vibration module and ring a specific tune. Unfortunately, I don’t know why, all the vibration modules run at the same time. I had no time to troubleshoot.
The device, as it stands now, is only a prototype. It is sad that I can’t get it to work on time. Although, I am still proud that I got the eye working, which is really cool as it really works wirelessly.
I will continue working on this project over the holidays to finish it, so I can be proud owning this device and have it in my portfolio.
I would 3D print the eye part so it looks more polished and I can hide all the wires.
Fix the eye as it keeps turning left for no reason (it keeps happening even at the beginning stage of testing)
Fix the vibration and include the buzzer as I haven’t really tried using it.
Try out having the eye tracking up, as that should honestly be the main part of this device, next to the movable third eye.
Hide all the wires and make this thing looks cool
If the auto eye movement still doesn’t work, I’ll just stick to eye tracking as it seems to be the one that makes the most sense for this concept for now.
Lessons and Reflections
I have really over-promised everything and that’s really bad. I’m sorry to disappoint everyone with my failure. The important lesson is to be less optimistic when it comes to coding. Many of my ambition comes from optimism that things will all go according to plan. Mostly, it doesn’t. Also, the worst part of coding is to make everything run together smoothly. When there’s a lot of parts, it becomes very complex and hard to handle.
Despite this, I really learnt a lot. I learnt many aspects to coding that make my project work. I will try to bring this knowledge further next time. After this, I’m keen to learn more about other ways to code which isn’t as clunky as it is in this project.
I also learnt that we are designers and not engineers, so my project should be more on the experience than the tech. I was too focused on the tech and trying to combine everything that I was overwhelmed. I should really take things one at a time.
So I simplified everything so everything is connected by wires now. The flaw is that there is now an ugly hose that’s connecting everything together. Still, I’m proud of this!!! And this is still just a prototype and I’m sure there’s more to improve for this project. I hope I can continue this somehow through other modules or FYP… As I’m thinking of doing something of similar theme!!!
After the last consultation, I was told to try building the space and test physically as there is no way to find out how the experience will be like without testing. However, there was a lot of difficulty in booking a space which I will briefly talk about later. I decided to drastically reduce the size of the installation after that. This is because the whole experience is clunky in my opinion and it will require too much material. But that’s also untested.
I spent >$100 the next few days buying materials like cloths and stickers, while I booked a few equipments and pillars that I can use to fix up the installation. Unfortunately, it was near crunch time for many modules so there wasn’t time to setup and test physically. From that, I learnt that I must really start testing earlier and not keep everything in my head until its too late.
I also got senior Chris to help me film some scenes with his drone! This was done as part of my previous idea of projecting greenery vs the sunken plaza’s reflective surface, which was the scrapped. (Sorry Chris! Thanks for all the trouble :’)))) ) As I don’t want to waste the footage, I’m going to put a small part here:
After that, I stopped working on the space until I was able to which was… 1 day before the presentation.
While everything else was happening, I was trying to passively work on the project by collecting images of dead birds. There wasn’t much that I collected, which was strange (but also means it’s a good thing that lesser birds are dying haha)
There was a lot of trouble to book the space. Firstly, Bharat was always not in, so I was not able to get approval even though I have requested for the space early. When I managed to catch Bharat early November, I was told that the space was to be shared with Prof. Joan Marie Kelly, who will be exhibiting her Painting class artworks. I had to make special arrangements with her in order to secure my space (which is that I will help her class to setup the exhibition).
The Setup + Final Presentation:
The afternoon before the presentation, I started setting up. I brought the necessary equipments and logistics down.
Unfortunately, I did not document the form which was shown during the final presentation as I did not really like it. I already intended to continue working on it after the presentation so I have the newer pictures.
Video documentation of walkthrough:
In the above 2 videos, the participants enter from the back instead of the front. This was due to me thinking that entering from the front was not a very good experience. The profs then tried entering from the other side and thought it was better.
During the discussion we brought up a few points:
The photos of the dead birds could replace the blood splat which was quite cheesy and doesn’t really look good in terms of aesthetics.
Going from the front is better as there is a better narrative and it is more intuitive to navigate through.
The experience worked as the impact sound and the visualisation is able to show what I wanted to show. Digital implementations helped to bring the experience to the next level which was successful.
There should be variations in the knocking sound which can make the experience more diverse. Also, the sound of the bird hitting window is not the same as just a regular knock.
The projection I shown is this. It’s a compilation video of people hitting against glass, but a picture of a dead bird found in ADM after each hit.
Overall, going in from the front is much better. Although there should be some kind of cue to let people know that they should not walk past the acrylic, and there should be something to distract them to slow them down. This was tested with participants before the final presentation, so that’s why I decided to let participants go from the back (which actually was not any better).
I realised that people usually stand there to see if there are more to the video on the monitor. I usually have to tell people to move on instead. So if possible, I should let participants know that they have to exit.
The sticker sticking part feels out of place now. It’s more of a personal touch than anything that is related to the installation. This is because the installation is experiential, while the sticker part is more activistic. I still kept it as I still want the idea of this artwork to not just “spread awareness”.
Finally, I realised that people don’t really look up to see the splat. This changed after I told participants about the concept before they experience it.
After the presentation, I continued working on it after a good sleep (yay!).
I removed the area where the projection was and placed the projection in the middle of the “tunnel”. The projection is now projecting onto a piece of cloth which that will have to unveil to move on, which leads to the acrylic sheet.
This essentially halves the setup, which makes everything look less clunky.
Overall, this makes everything better in a lot of ways.
Navigation was easier. It was clearer for participants to understand the flow of interaction and the narrative.
The participants will now move slower in the tunnel as there is a video to watch
The whole setup is more compact and less detached
However, there are still flaws that I have to address:
the light in the projection makes the acrylic sheet visible and should be turned off when the cloth is unveiled (this was newly added after discovering this problem)
Projection on black cloth makes it not very visible (as mentioned by my friend Clemens) and the later changes, I switched to white cloth.
The visuals are still not the best, the blood splat is still very…. weird. What I did next was to add an overall red hue to make the splat less off-putting, which kind of worked in bringing attention to the screen
I also created a poster that will be pasted on my installation so people will know what it is about.
Reiteration of Concept
I would like to go through one more time to summarise everything, and how all the elements worked / not worked out
The concept is from an observation of birds hitting the reflective glass window around the ADM building. Upon further research, I discovered that many birds had died due to the building’s reflective glass windows. I wanted to make an installation that solves this problem through bringing awareness to the problem, letting people know the solution, and asking the school to do something about it.
The installation features an experiential space alongside an activity. The experiential space is a long narrow “tunnel” made of white and black cloth. The use of white cloth was intended for the space to look like a funeral. The tunnel also represents the route into Sunken Plaza.
Inside the space, the first thing to see is the video projection. This projection shows found CCTV footages of people walking into glass. Each time a person walks into the glass, a picture of a dead bird found in ADM is shown. This is done to draw reference to birds flying into glass, and I want it to stir some emotions within people. Watching people walk into glass is funny. But is it funny when you see a bird dying from that? Using that, I want to create a sense of guilt and pity. The video is about a minute long and loops.
When the audience moves on, they will unveil the cloth and walk forward. This activates 2 sensors (previously only 1). 1 sensor will turn off the video that the projector is showing, making it easier for the participants to see what’s in front of them. Another sensor will activate the bird-window collision simulation. This happens on the front, which is a monitor that shows a live video of the window behind the installation, pretending to be an actual glass window. This was inspired by an advertisement by LG and another by Pepsi, which features a screen that looked like windows to trick participants. In my installation, a sound of a “bang” is heard, followed by the screen turning red and a blood splat appearing on the screen. This part is to cue the participants into knowing that a bird has hit the glass, and this let participants understand how it sounds and feel the impact.
Once that interaction is done, the participant can leave from the side, and move on to paste a sticker to ask for change.
Here are some user testing videos:
Note: she didnt notice the video and the blood splat, but was startled by the bang.
Her rewatching the video
Lessons and Reflections
I also learnt that in an art installation, I should focus more on the experience and feelings rather than facts as that is more effective in incepting ideas into people.
I also learnt that when it comes to spaces, it does not have to actually be physical space. It can be something more experiential, which I could focus on rather than creating an entire space for people to move around in. (which is costly and hard to build)
I also learnt that I should have started building much earlier and use the building as a testing ground for me to see how the experience feels.
I also appreciate the feedbacks which are all good especially Biju’s suggestions to having the glass wall that people walk into.
However, overall, I didn’t really enjoy working on this project as it requires a lot of work and money. Setting up a space is really difficult, especially with a space that is quite large like mine. Working alone on this is just not recommended. (There was once when my setup fell and I had to shout for help and the photography people came to help me I must thank them :’) )
I also lost motivation halfway through the semester as the concept wasn’t that strong in terms of the requirements of the module. Still, I’m happy that I pushed through and the installation looks fine now. I guess larger-scale installation stuffs isn’t my thing, and I should build something smaller in future.
[WIP, but I’ll put the most relevant information first]
Okay so I need an OSS post to collect my thoughts. The most recent updates will be mentioned here.
After 2 weeks of searching for meaning, I discovered that I’ve been straying from my concept. I keep wanting to create something emotionally surprising, but I failed to come back to the original idea which is to create a space that make people act. After a bit of thinking, I realised my concept may lean more towards activism rather than art. After some research, I found “Why Artistic Activism: Nine Reasons” by Stephen Duncombe and Steve Lambert from The Center for Artistic Activism. Below are a few quotes I found applicable to what I’m working on.
Art and activism do different work in the world. Activism, as the name implies, is the activity of challenging and changing power relations. There are many ways of doing activism and being an activist, but the common element is an activity targeted toward a discernible end. Simply put, the goal of activism is action to create an Effect.
Art, on the other hand, tends not to have such a clear target. It’s hard to say what art is for or against; its value often lies in providing us perspective and new ways to envision our world. Its effect is often subtle and hard to measure, and confusing or contradictory messages can be layered into the work. Good art always contains a surplus of meaning: something we can’t quite describe or put our finger on, but moves us nonetheless. Its goal, if we can even use that word, is to stimulate a feeling, move us emotionally, or alter our perception. Art, equally simply stated, is an expression that generates Affect.
Artistic Activism is a practice aimed at generating Æffect: emotionally resonant experiences that lead to measurable shifts in power.
The ability of artistic activism to surprise us – to show up in unlikely places (e.g. not a gallery) or take on unfamiliar forms (e.g. not a protest march) provides an opportunity to disrupt people’s preconceived notions of art and protest, and their predetermined ideas about the messages we are trying to communicate. Artistic activism creates an opportunity to bypass seemingly fixed political ideas and moral ideals and remap cognitive patterns. Surprise is a moment when hearts can be touched and minds reached, and both changed.
I also looked at different works that is similar to what I want to achieve, some are advertising, some interactive.
Alright. So my current concept would be a 3 part installation.
PART 1: The Collision
In part 1, I want the focus to be on the bird collision. I think people don’t know or don’t feel much about the birds situation as they have not experienced it before.
Participants have to enter one at a time to engage in this work.
The participants enter wearing a device that distorts their vision through mirrors. The view should look like there are multiple images and the center of their vision will be blocked just like how birds see with 2 eyes on the sides of their head.
The participant then walk through a short maze, which includes mirrors that further disorients them
As the participant gets closer to the end of the maze, the ambient sound gets louder, this helps the participant to orientate themselves towards the goal
When they reach the end, they will hit against the transparent acrylic. Simultaneously, there will be a thud sound while an image of a ‘bird’ (plasticine or something) will ‘hit the window’. The environment will turn silent too.
After a short while, the ambient music fades in again. As that happens, LED lights up the acrylic to reveal dots that previously cant be seen due to the dark.
At the same time, the bird corpse will fade into dots which will fill the screen. When that happens, birds’ silhouette can be seen flying around without harm. (unsure thats why i underlined)
Participants then can exit the installation to the right and enter PART 2.
What this is supposed to achieve:
empathy towards the birds in realising the difficulty of navigation
experiencing how it sounds and looks like when a bird hits the window
sympathy towards the bird, enough to want to do something
What will be added after:
more interactions with the space itself, perhaps through a slightly added complication with the maze so as to create a non-linear experience
PART2: The Dead and The Injured
This part is dedicated to the injured and dead birds. After exiting the smack zone, there will be a zone where a projection of videos of people walking into glass, where in the end, the image of a dead bird around ADM is shown. This is a reflection of what happened previously and gives people the context that many birds have died due to such collisions. As they walk towards the projectors, a sensor gets triggered and an injured bird is projected using Pepper’s Ghost method on a platform. The participant is then able to interact with this bird by using a phone placed in front of it. When they pick it up, the phone will explain how one is able to help the injured bird. The bird will also animate according to the instructions (depending on my capability if its doable).
What people should feel:
sympathy towards the dead birds
empathy due to seeing the context
education on how to help an injured bird
PART3: Using the Dots
I am 100% certain it’s the most elegant solution towards this issue. The school have already turned off light at midnight to reduce light pollution which helps night migratory birds. But the school is not taking enough responsibility in reducing the deaths by the windows when the structure mirrors the sky and forest around the school.
In order to make it extra clear about the intention for this part of the installation, my focus will only be on the dots.
The participant will enter this next zone where the first thing they see will be clear acrylic with dots marked on them. This goes along with a brief description on how the dots help us to see it better. (see how this works out)
After that, it will be where they paste stickers.
What participants should feel and get out of it:
I did something to help!
[Process and further research]
input process for:
first iteration which is the shitty 3-window panel thing, feedbacks, improvements. Week 9 was all about thinking of a way to putting tech
second iteration which is the shitty maze, feedbacks, improvements, and actions to take. Week 10 was all about buying and getting materials together.
third iteration which is what I’ll be proposing this tuesday, which will be the final form and I’ll present it while i continue to physically experiment with the different physical elements (on monday) Week 11 was all about
Week 12 will be working on experimenting with the space and see what works