So this artwork is meant to get people to feel confused at first, but then feel calm afterwards. The inspiration for this artwork comes from my own experience. I was at a place in my life where I felt like something was missing but I wasn’t sure what it was. And that is okay. I want to tell people that it is okay to feel confused or unsure or lost or not know what to do. Just take a step back to reflect and be by yourself and think things through. Things will workout eventually.
Secondly, I also wanted to participants to feel okay being alone. One of the most crippling things in the modern age right now is loneliness. There two solutions to loneliness, while then second is being tackled by my project in interactive devices the first I am tackling here. The first solution is to change people’s perception about being alone, that is to be okay while you are alone.
What I Set out to Do
So from the feed back I got during midterms (which you can see here) and from my consultation with Prof Bijuu and Kristy I realised that adding technology should help my work achieve two things.
- The environment should change one more time so that participants leave with their energy high. This is because after the initial shock of being in a white room and doing the poem, quite a few participants felt that they didnt know what to do next and this resulted in a dip in energy.
- The technology should immerse the participant further into the artwork. For example narrowing the participant’s world so that they can only see the poem and the small light in front of them.
So to this I knew that I had to be able to control the environment within the cloth room to be able to change it one more time. I already had control over the sound, so next was to control the lighting conditions (not depend on the dance studio lights) and make the sound and light change subtly so pull the audience into the experience further.
So I decided to do this by adding stylised LED strips and to create a sound track.
- Create a thousand LED flowers.
- To create a second soundtrack for the original soundtrack to shift into.
Creating the LED flowers. ( creating the flowers required the most amount of energy and required the most amount of brain power to do.)
The first step was to prepare the strips of cloth. Initially, I cut each 60″ strip one by one by measuring each strip and then cutting it. However, I realised that this was not efficient and decided to prep the cloth more before cutting.
- Fold the cloth & pin it.
2. Measure out the strips
3. Cut the cloth
4. melt the strips so that the sides would not fray too much.
Then next would be to prep the LEDs.
Initially I wanted to use the common two pin LEDs and create an LED matrix. But I realised this would not be wise as firstly, I would have had to create a driver and each pin would need to be plugged into a digital out pin on the Arduino. Which would be impossible for me If i wanted to create hundreds.. Furthermore, I wouldn’t be able to control the brightness of the LEDs.
I then decided that it would be much wiser instead to cut individual LEDs from an LED strip and use them for the cloth flower. Using LED strips also provided me with more control as I could easily code patterns and control the brightness.
So the next step was to prep the Individual LEDs from the LED strips.
5. Cut the LEDs
6. Cut the wires
7. Strip the wires and Solder the ends.
8. Solder the wires to the LEDs.
Initially used single core wires, however, I quickly switched to multi core wires as I realised that multi core wires are muckiest more flexible and they do not snap as easily as the single core wires.
9. Fold the cloth around the LEDs.
The biggest problem with the LEDs was the time required to make them. Currently each LED flower takes about 15 min to make. Even the slightest added step would be compounded into hours of work when making hundreds. For example. I tried removing the “melting the sides of the cloth” (step4). Step 4 requires about a min per strip. But 200 strip alone would mean 3hrs of constant work.
Now that I have the LED flowers the next step would be to link them together
10. Solder the LED strips together
After Soldering the strips together I made sore to hot glue to joints to insulate them to prevent any short circuiting .
I first tested with a set of ten to ensure that it works fine and perfectly.
11. Test run
Powering 10 however is simple enough as only very little power is required. When making hundreds however, we would have to draw power from an alternative power source. Thus I decided to us an LED power supply which is an AC/DC power adapter. It converts power of a higher voltage to 5V and 10 amps.
However even with a ten amps power converter, I realised that it was still not enough. The LED lights towards the end of the string of flowers start to turn red because it was not being supplied with enough power.
Thus I decided to get more power converters and connect two strips in parallel with two different power supplies.
12. create the audio track
For the second audio I used audacity and played around with some effects, adding an echo and making it sound as if it is being heard underwater..
13. link lights and audio to sensor
I linked the lights and the audio to the photo resistor which was attached to the wooden frame. This photo resistor’s value will change when all the panels have been placed on top of the frame and this would trigger the change in lights and audio. I made sure this photo resistor was flushed to hide the technology.
For the final setup I used the dance studio this time instead of the truss room. To hold up the white cloths I used Cstands connected by bamboo poles and sandbags.
Within the space I did a similar setup with the panels and wooden frame. However this time I placed the scented candle within the space and the LED flowers.
This time I got the participant to close their eyes much further away and extended the “blindfolded” segment of the experience. This was to ensure that the participant’s senses are thoroughly reseted. In the previous try during the mid terms, I realised that the some participants took very short 8 deep breaths and others took very long. Those who tool long deep breaths were more likely to be immersed in the experience as compared to those who took shorter ones as their senses was reseted.. Thus extending the blindfold segment was a way to reset the senses too.
The next thing I changed was, after the participant finished the poem, I instructed them to come their eyes again and take another 8 deep breaths. While this was happening, the audio would slowly change, the LED flower’s lights would turn blue and I would off the lights to the dance studio. This was to change the participant’s environment a second time.
So the consensus was that the midterms version of this was much better than this current version.
What made the experience in the first version solid was in part due to the emptiness of the room. However, the lights broke that and added more materiality.
Secondly the Audio change was not calming and was instead anxiety inducing.
What worked however, was lengthening the “blindfold” segment at the start. Thus I decided to take this into consideration and edit my work once again before the End of Sem showcase.
So for this final version, I decided to take out the LED flowers, leaving the candle inside the space. I also changed the audio of the second track and replaced it instead with a slow heartbeat. So when the participant finishes the poem and closes their eyes again. I would switch off the lights and they would be left with only light from the candle and the audio would get softer only becoming slightly audible (but still can be heard) being slowly accompanied by a steady heartbeat.
The reviews I got from this version was much better. People thought that when the lights turned off, it was shocking at first, but afterwards once they got used to the darkness it was still very calming to be within the space. There were still a minority however, who felt that that the darkness and the solitary candle instead made them feel afraid which was still very interesting.
Overall I was pretty pleased that I made these final changes as it brought back the simplicity to my artwork.