The environment was enhanced by manipulating the audio panning and volume. This created direction and made the space more palpable. Also, having no light was at times more powerful than switching between colours due to the sudden contrast it created.
The circular arena seemed infinite, and even seemed to ‘disappear’ after a while due to its span covering our filed of vision.
What started as a working title became surprisingly apt when I had doubts about whether this project could be materialised. It reminded me of an article in the local newspaper a few weeks back about Christo and his 2 decade long project in Colorado. Interestingly, he mentioned in the interview how getting permits and approval was an integral element of the spirit of the project.
Variations between Planning and Execution
Initially, I intended the swing and larger hammock to be closer together. However, the larger hammock had to be placed further to the right, down the stairs so as to not obstruct the fire sprinklers.
Making a Prototype
Before getting loads of rope and fabric, I made a prototype using scrap materials such as wires, shoelaces and some spare cloth.
I tied this makeshift hammock onto my bed post and experimented with the placement of ropes (3 points vs. a single pivot) and the motion it created using each method.
Trying out these prototypes was very useful as it allowed me to gauge the strength of cloth needed and shorten the width of the hammocks based on the wood flexibility and strain. Instead of winding the fabric around the pole, I opted for sewing as it would be more secure and able to bare more weight.
Creating the Components
As the forms in the installation become increasingly open from right to left, I choose 3 different earth tones to emphasise this gradation and complement the space underneath the stairs. The darkest fabric corresponds to the shallow hammock which is wedged by the stairs and forms an enclosed private space.
First, I cut the fabric to width. I initially intended the hammocks to be at least 1 metre in width. But due to the flexibility of the wood, this had to be reduced quite a bit.
For extra security, to bare heavy weight, and to prevent unravelling in case of wear and tear, I sewed several lines over a large area and ‘locked’ the sides.
Problems and Revisions
During the initial setup on Sunday, 1 of the sticks broke in the middle after some use. Oh the horror! Each hammock/swing had 2 points of support on each side (4 points in total to share the load). To prevent excessive flexing and bending, I revised the design by adding an additional point of support at the centre of the wooden pole.
I cut out a gap enough for the rope to go through and coil around the pole and reinforced the stitching with… more stitching!
This video walk leads the viewer around the familiar and routine school space. Along the way, they will encounter an unexpected spectacle of moving balloons which seem to appear from nowhere.
After a few hours of bicep curls, I pumped about 60 bright pink balloons and positioned them in 3 locations around basement 1, the lift lobby and outdoor shallow pool. This is a development of an initial idea which involved the addition of objects to alter the space. Instead of using static objects which the participant would walk around, I opted for balloons as they have an organic movement i.e. they float down slowly when released from a height. With force, balloons can also make dynamic and quick movements and
Documentation of video walk experience
(The documentation shows 2/3 locations featured in the video walk)
Original video participants’ view while going through the space
We set up this week’s exercise as a group at both indoor and outdoor locations and observed the user behaviour. We experimented with three different objects to emulate a new space; a flexible tube, a robe with adjustable loops at each end, and a rope shaped into a ring on the floor. Each time, two participants would interact with the object.
Reactions, interactions and takeaways
Most participants were unsure of the situation and showed varying levels of comfort. Especially when pairing strangers together, participants either started conversations (they said talking helped to make it more natural) or called out the awkwardness of the situation. Some continued what they were doing beforehand. Ideally, the interaction should be seamless and natural so participants don’t feel uncomfortable or confused (unless intended).
At first we weren’t sure how much to tell participants when we asked them to take part in the exercise. The amount of details we gave likely influenced their behaviour (“please stand in the circle” vs. “here you go”). We need to find a balance between instruction and organic response when framing these works. It should be subtle and not too explicit, yet it shouldn’t be too open (this potentially doesn’t capture interest, maybe due to a lack of specifics/context, and confuses the participants). Environmental factors (i.e. indoors with aircon or hot sun) could also influence user behaviour.
We also tried telling some participants to interact with the objects in whatever way they felt was most natural, for however long they wanted. Some participants took the initiative to test the limits of the space and objects such as untying the laid out ropes etc. These active participants enhance the space by introducing unexpected interactions.