research critique 3 // principles of new media in inter-macy

numerical representation.

I believe numerical representation is related to the inputs or data that is being collected to generate the artwork. In Inter-macy, we see this in the data gathered from heart rate (pulse sensor) as well as light intensity(photosensors). Both of which gathers data as a form of numerical representation. With the pulse sensor collecting numerical data of your heart beats per minute (BPM), whereas the photosensors collecting numerical data as a range of 0 – 1024 based on the placement of your hands that blocks light.


Defined as a “fractal structure of new media”, inter-macy contains different modules which can work individually as well; pulse sensor, photosensor, conductive fabric, LED strips. These modules are put together to form an interactive artwork. The modules also have their own individual elements; for example, modules such as pulse sensor and LED strips have their own library of codes in Arduino, like how a webpage would consist of many separate media elements. These modules are then assembled together by functions in programming.


A keyword we see appearing in the news a lot more often these days; Artificial Intelligence or better known as AI. Inter-macy could be described as a low-level automation where the artwork is reacting to a participant’s actions or heart rate, and where Bryan and I don’t need to stand at the back changing the outputs manually. In this aspect, we can better visualise how automation relies on numerical representation and modularity to run. Essentially, to automate something you would need some form of data and modules.

Here is an example of how the code has been designed to automatically respond to the participant’s heartbeat and hand movements through data received from the sensors.



The different modules mentioned above allows for variables to occur. Pulse sensors and photosensors work differently from a switch, which works in only 2 states, on and off, or, high and low. These sensors detect variables of data based on the actions and heart rate of a participant. Furthermore, the artwork discusses the intimacy between 2 people and by having 2 participants, they themselves become variables because different pairs of people will produce different results. Thus, the experience of a participant is customised, and as mentioned in the book, “Similarly, every user of an interactive installation gets her own version of the work”.

After reading the section on “Principles of New Media”, I strongly believe that variability is an important aspect of Interactive Design, and it is what differentiates a passive and active interaction. When there are variables that a participant can change that is reflected in the artwork, could the artwork be considered interactive? If it could, then the artwork exists as an open interactivity which is a subset of the variability principle.


One of the harder principles to grasp, to be completely honest. But from what I can understand, I guess Arduino is a form of transcoding as it is in itself a language for programming. How does Arduino translate the data inputted into the artwork? Well, Arduino has already laid out the language for us to program, so we the “content creators” only need to type in the functions we need based on the language provided and Arduino will read it and translate it out.


Intel Heart Bot

“An experimental drawing machine powered by the heart rate of each viewer.”

Heart of the City

Photo by Mike Diskin

An interactive sculpture created by Brazilian artist Anaisa Franco is a visualization of your heartbeat on a three-seat chair moulded in the shape of a human heart. The sculpture lights up in vibrant neon lights, which pulses in the rhythm of your heartbeat.


noise metaverse


seeming to surround the audience, player, etc. so that they feel completely involved in something:”


“an interactive system or computer program designed to involve the user in the exchange of information”

Before I discussed which artworks were the most immersive, I thought I should define the difference between immersive and interactive.

Something immersive, may not necessarily be interactive, and vice versa; something interactive, may not be immersive.

I found that many of the artworks at the exhibition were immersive and lacked the interactivity aspect. However, this did not undermine the experience.

Memories of the Wind

Even though it lacked interactivity, this artwork stood out to me.

Situated at a dark, obscure corner, participants were made to wear a VR headset and headphones while sitting down on a bench alone. The sight transforms into a minimalist depiction of a seaside as we hear the sounds of waves crashing in the background.

The artwork may not be much, but I felt a close, personal connection with it. The beach is where I run to when things get rough, but let’s be real, the beach is pretty far, especially when you are trying to get from NTU. So, to be able to experience that feeling, even if it may not be exactly at the same level, was endearing and calming.

Even though it wasn’t interactive, it connected with the emotional aspect of me which allowed me to be completely immersed in the experience. To be honest, I could have probably sat there all day.

The virtual spatial musical instrument (the vsmi)

Undoubtedly, one of the most interactive artwork in the entire exhibition.

Similar to the Memories of the Wind, participants put on a VR headset and headphones. They are also given a controller which they will use to pat the red and blue lines dangling from the ceiling. This will produce sounds of a musical instrument.

To me, what made the experience immersive, was probably the interaction. Being able to produce a change of visuals and sounds by our actions, allowed for the immersive experience.

In this case, the interactivity created the immersive experience in my opinion.