every beginning & end of the day (2019)

I will be documenting the final product and process in this post. I will begin with the former.

Project Description

An interaction that explores the interstice between ourselves and an inanimate everyday object. Blinds act as a psychoneurotic anchor for humans, they act almost as book ends to which our consciousness opens and closes.

Concept

I wanted to create the sensation of a lapse in time. To do that, I digitally engineered the movements of blinds and lights that emit through the blinds in different shades of warm and white colour picks from actual images.

The following are some images that I referenced.

Schematics & Automation–

The setup involves both Arduino and Processing. The hardware – 3 distance sensors and 3 servo motors wired extensively to 1 arduino,  a computer and a projector.

A diagram of the wiring for the hardware. The servo motors are connected to the tilting mechanism of the blinds.

The following is the arduino code:

#include <Servo.h>
Servo myservo;
Servo myservo2;
Servo myservo1;

int trigPin1 = 6;
int echoPin1 = 7;

int trigPin2 = 8;
int echoPin2 = 9;

int trigPin3 = 10;
int echoPin3 = 11;

int count;
int count2;
int count1;

boolean kena=false;
boolean kena2=false;
boolean kena1=false;

void setup() {
Serial.begin (9600);

myservo.attach(5);
myservo2.attach(4);
myservo1.attach(3);

pinMode(trigPin1, OUTPUT);
pinMode(echoPin1, INPUT);

pinMode(trigPin2, OUTPUT);
pinMode(echoPin2, INPUT);

pinMode(trigPin3, OUTPUT);
pinMode(echoPin3, INPUT);
}

void loop(){

int duration1, distance1;
digitalWrite (trigPin1, HIGH);
delayMicroseconds (10);
digitalWrite (trigPin1, LOW);
duration1 = pulseIn (echoPin1, HIGH);
distance1 = (duration1/2) / 29.1;

int duration2, distance2;
digitalWrite (trigPin2, HIGH);
delayMicroseconds (10);
digitalWrite (trigPin2, LOW);
duration2 = pulseIn (echoPin2, HIGH);
distance2 = (duration2/2) / 29.1;

int duration3, distance3;
digitalWrite (trigPin3, HIGH);
delayMicroseconds (10);
digitalWrite (trigPin3, LOW);
duration3 = pulseIn (echoPin3, HIGH);
distance3 = (duration3/2) / 29.1;

if (distance1<150 && distance2>=150 && distance3>=150){
Serial.print(“1.jpg”);
};

if (distance2<150 && distance1>=150 && distance3>=150){
Serial.print(“2.jpg”);
};

if (distance3<150 && distance1>=150 && distance2>=150){
Serial.print(“3.jpg”);
};

if (distance1<150 && distance2<150 && distance3>=150){
Serial.print(“12.jpg”);
};

if (distance2<150 && distance3<150 && distance1>=150){
Serial.print(“23.jpg”);
};

if (distance1<150 && distance3<150 && distance2>=150){
Serial.print(“13.jpg”);
};

if (distance1<150 && distance2<150 && distance3<150){
Serial.print(“123.jpg”);
};

if (distance1>=150 && distance2>=150 && distance3>=150){
Serial.print(“0.jpg”);
};

if (distance1 < 150) { kena=true;}

if (kena==true){count++;};

if (count>0 && count<7) {
myservo1.write(110);};

if (count>=7 && count<9){
myservo1.write(90);};

if(count>=9 && count<15){
myservo1.write(70);};

if (count>=15){
myservo1.write(90);
count=0;
kena=false;
};

if (distance2 < 150) { kena2=true;}

if (kena2==true){count2++;};

if (count2>0 && count2<7) {
myservo2.write(70);};

if (count2>=7 && count2<9){
myservo2.write(90);};

if(count2>=9 && count2<15){
myservo2.write(110);};

if (count2>=15){
myservo2.write(90);
count2=0;
kena2=false;
};

if (distance3 < 150) { kena1=true; }

if (kena1==true){count1++;};

if (count1>0 && count1<7) {
myservo.write(70);};

if (count1>=7 && count1<9){
myservo.write(90);};

if(count1>=9 && count1<15){
myservo.write(110);};

if (count1>=15){
myservo.write(90);
count1=0;
kena1=false;
};

delay(100);
}

The servo motors are controlled directly from Arduino, triggered by the distance sensor that corresponds to it. I set my threshold at 1.5m, around the length of a human. To generate a visual in Processing, I used Serial.print to generate the name of the .jpg file. The following is the processing code:

import ddf.minim.*;

Minim minim;
AudioPlayer player;

import processing.serial.*;
Serial myPort;
String data=”” ;
int i = int(data);
PFont myFont;
PImage no;

void setup()
{
fullScreen(P2D);
background(0);
myPort = new Serial(this, Serial.list()[2], 9600);
myPort.bufferUntil(‘g’);

minim = new Minim(this);
player=minim.loadFile(“blind.mp3″);
delay(5000);}

void draw(){

background(0);
no = loadImage(data,”jpg”);
image(no, 0, 0, width, height);
println(data);

if (data.equals(“1.jpg” )|| data.equals(“123.jpg”)|| data.equals(“2.jpg”)|| data.equals(“3.jpg”)|| data.equals(“12.jpg”)|| data.equals(“23.jpg”)|| data.equals(“13.jpg”)){
player.play();
player.rewind();
}

}
void serialEvent(Serial myPort)
{
data=myPort.readStringUntil(‘g’);
}

‘data’ is what’s returned to the serial port of my Arduino.

Visuals

Possible outcomes in the form of images. During the actual demonstration, I slightly unfocused the projection image to replicate the natural phenomenon:

No presence

Left blind

Right blind

Middle blind

Left & Right blind (2 blinds return white)

Left & Middle blind

Right & Middle blind

All blinds on (return brighter)

Changes

There has been a drastic change in concept since my first pitch due to several accusations of similarities to works of other artists concerning blinds (though unintended).

The following are some links & images of the milestones in my process.

https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/syeow002/category/18s2-dm2000-tut-g01/project-development-drawings-18s2-dm2000-tut-g01/

Body Storming Documentation for Blind and Chandeliers

https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/syeow002/category/18s2-dm2000-tut-g01/project-development-body-storming-18s2-dm2000-tut-g01/

password: phototactic

https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/syeow002/category/18s2-dm2000-tut-g01/mid-term-project-18s2-dm2000-tut-g01/

Personal Reflections

Ultimately, I am happy with this outcome. On many mornings and nights I am reminded of this piece, which is the reverse effect of working on this for a long period of time. There were many moments of catharsis and discovery that I experienced from the people who tested it out. It was unfortunate to hear 2 of my servo motors grind to a halt at the very last moment, yet there is a sort of surrealism in seeing the light being casted on the ground as participants walked past them. Perhaps it all worked out for the better.

Further Expansion

If not limited by material, I would love to extend the length of this piece and perhaps house it in a more ambient location. It is my desire to watch a long stretch of these blinds wave and light up as people walk past.

Principles of New Media thru Phototactic Blinds

Phototactic Blinds can be interpreted through the Lev Manovich’s Principles of New Media in many ways—

Automation & Numerical Representation

The essence of this project is the automation of it. As mentioned in my previous post, the concept of my blinds – they tilt open and shut through the unmanned movement of the servo motors that crank the knob either clockwise or anti-clockwise, depending on the distance detected by the ultrasonic distance sensor. You could consider this to be an instructional language of numbers being parsed through the conditions defined in my codes.

main condition

The nature of this project is simple and intuitive, it is easy to pick up on this mechanical pattern of automation just by interacting with the project.

Modularity

The most evident form of modularity in my project is that the three blinds operate on individual realms of code. They are not affected by each others movements and can be experienced individually, as seen during my Mid Term experimentation.

Ultimately, they are modules, their parts are modules, their codes are modules, yet an arrangement of close proximity and experimentation with scale will create an experience that is collective of the three blinds. Everything tangible is modular depending on how far you zoom in or out, whether you view them in clusters or individually. All matter can be viewed as a ‘fractal structure’, we are all large things made of smaller things.

Variability & Transcoding

This is probably the only cog in the system that defines my piece to be an interactive rather than passive kinetic structure. Mechanically, the movement of the blinds is defined by the distance of the human participant, it could be said that he is the variable, and therefore he is infinite. There is also the subsequent variable moire effect of shadows being casted by the light in different directions, thickness and lengths as a result of the primary mechanical movement. The movement of the blinds also create an infinitely variable rhythm.

But more specifically, we are working with the numerical value of distance. The entire experience was designed to be variable much less through the mechanics of it but rather the alluring, capturing and extremely cathartic nature of strobing lights and blinds. We as humans have intrinsically a psychoneurotic anchor towards these phenomena. They could invoke sensations linked to particular memories or habits, feelings that mean something to us. Our creative minds and ability to empathise and sensitise, that is the infinite variable.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (2011), Tape Recorders

Such experiences cannot and should not be quantified by principles or any theoretical algorithm in general, but rather experienced qualitatively. Otherwise, we would be regressing to the days of standards and realism, with passive goal oriented artworks and mindsets.

Phototactic Blinds: Finalised idea, Mechanics & Modular prototype

Image result for moth at light

password: phototactic

Finalised Idea

This work explores the phototactic reaction of a human, the sensations changing lighting climates could invoke, their cathartic properties and what it means to us in terms of experiences and/or memories. Previously, I had sought a more generic concept of manipulating natural light through the movement of blinds, only to meet with accusations of me ripping off another artist’s work – that was never the case. Nonetheless, it was enough cause for concern to me, which led to this more scientific/research-based piece.

We know of a few general phototactic species by general experience, particularly insects hovering around the lights of our living spaces. The moth for example is phototactic to such a large extent that it is almost uncommon to see a light at night uninhabited by a moth.

For those who are unfamiliar with this phenomenon, visit this link. In an abstract, positive phototaxis is the phenomenon where natural instinct draws one towards light and negative phototaxis, away from the light. For many living things, this instinct is involuntary and uncontrollable.

I was driven the image of every start and end of the day, lights shining through my blinds every morning and the golden casting of a cars headlights at night. Others, a crowd at a concert, waving their light sticks and a myriad of phones capturing videos. Faces illuminated by their phones at a dark bus stop. The flashy lights at a Y2G storefront, a barber shop or in a club. How strobing lights made my heart pump and warm faded lights cathartic. How the scene in a film is indicated by the kind of lighting (interior/exterior, day/night). The casting of shadows whether diffused or stark could evoke a mood or a sense of physical distance.

It made me question: Are we phototactic beings? Are we drawn to light, as the saying goes, ‘like a moth to a flame’. Have we evolved to experience and rely on phototaxis? Why is lighting such an indicative and dictative force that can control both our physical and psychological movements?

My personal thoughts: We live in a digital age that worships light as it worships technology. Our ability to manipulate light puts us in a higher position that allows us to create our own environments and moods. Light is a powerful asset and stimuli. I want to create a simple contraption that can induce sorts of phototactic sensations in a human, exploratively, conceptually, interactively and immersively.

Module Prototype


I want to create a lapsing performance of lights and blinds that react to the audience’s proximity – like a moth to a flame. The blinds will tilt open, creating a shadow casted pattern. The lights will strobe in a higher and more chaotic frequency. There are two orange lights and one white light wedged in between, creating a fleeting and convoluted feeling of day and night, or beginnings and endings in a more relatable context. The shadows casted form strobing images of memory, the routine morning sun (every 15s white light strikes) and orange headlights zooming past the window as you doze off (random strobing rhythms). It is meant to create a contrasting limbo of catharsis and chaos.


Blinds are operated by a 360 degree continuous rotation servo motor, while the light bulbs operate on an algorithmic output from the arduino to relays. Both mechanisms work with ultrasonic distance sensors.

Expansion for final

There will be an arrangement of 3 blinds consecutively, the middle blind will be larger than the second. I am also thinking of arranging them in an angled manner. My intention is to create a sort of unearthly god-like/worship effect. The participant should feel like a moth drawn to a light in a human context, and also experience a certain level of sensory tension as the lighting conditions change in reaction to their proximity to each individual blind and the light. The blinds will preferably be suspended by nylon strings. The following a flowchart of the logistics of this project.

Peer Experience Feedback

General good reception of the phototactic sensations and theme. Some phrases used to describe the experience was ‘sculptural Mise en Scene’, ‘entrancing’ and ‘drawing’. On the other side, there is some worry about the  loud mechanical sound of the relay and the servo motor. The clothes rack that I used to suspend the blinds temporarily was also not too desirable. Lights were too harsh/light bulbs too visible.

Edits

The blinds will be suspended to the ceiling along a narrow corridor to give a larger sense of dynamic and salience of the motion. There will also be sounds attached to the response of the blinds to conceal the sound of the motor and emphasise on the kinetics. Light bulbs will be diffused and more spaced out for more elongated shadows.

Sample sound effect:

 

 

 

 

Body Storming Documentation for Blind and Chandeliers

Update from Bodystorming:

*Kinect is replaced with PIR motion sensor
*I will only use 3 blinds
*Middle blind to be slightly larger and of a tanner shade.

The main takeaway from the body-storming activity lies in user interaction. It was surprising to discover that my intended set up was unintuitive, considering the only action involved was to stand in front of it, a rather instinctive action. However, I do believe that a large part of the interactive process is exploring how the installation reacts to you rather than giving explicit instruction. The latter seems to take away from the experience and its abstract nature. Unless I intend to develop it into something commercial like a guerrilla ad or some sort of mall display, then again this is not Wee Kim Wee. So I have chosen to trust my instincts on this project, since I am spending good money on it and a lot of this expressive process has to do with my own logic and sensations. Furthermore, lo-fi prototype is insufficient to demonstrate my idea accurately, crucial details may be left out.

That being said, I will be making these changes. For example I will be using less blinds, therefore limiting the space where my audience will peruse. I figured by simplifying my installation and limiting the area for activity would make interaction more clear and intuitive for people who are generally more passive in new artistic experiences, or people who generally do not appreciate art. The middle blind will also be bigger and of a different shade to act as visual interest to encourage a closer glance and to attract people in general.

password: bodystorm

Blind

Blind

This project explores the idea of individualism and manipulating natural light to create an experience. A series of blinds that close into mirrors and are arranged against sunlight. They open as an audience member is present in front of it. It takes 1 second for the blind to open fully, and when that threshold is reached, the entire series of blinds will shut instantaneously.

1—blinds begin in a shut state, blocking out sunlight and act as a mirror

2—distance sensor detects, blinds will open gradually but quickly as long as a person is present in front of it

3—if audience member linger/stops to look, all blinds will shut, depriving not just himself of his reflection/the experience, but also every other audience member

Concept

Blind explores the sensation of instantaneous change. Each audience member will experience physically and exteriorly their own or another’s role in cause and gargantuan effect. There is a significant sense of guilt and group in this experience. The installation deprives them of the ability to linger or look at themselves. It also explores the tension of individualism and its thresholds/limits. As the blinds open and shut, it should create a rarely conceived feeling of creation and destruction at the same time. In a more relatable context, the audience may familiarise this feeling and loss, change, renewal and sacrifice.

Interstice

There is both a literal and figurative exploration of the theme Interstice in this project. It could be interpreted the gaps between the blinds that allow us to see the world beyond ourselves, but also the unexpected gap between creation and destruction in a matter of time.

Mechanics

Input—Distance sensor

Output—Pull mechanism

Single or multiple.

Dimensions

est. size 10m length, 1m height

Strike Rich: Chandeliers

This interactive set up aims to mimic/incite the feeling of luck and superstition in a local context. It will consist of 2 chandelier set ups, eat embellished not by jewels, but rather everyday humbles such as kopi bags and hanging laundry. The set up unravels into chandelier form when a person walks under it, simultaneously whispering a randomly generated 4-digit combination (significant of 4D). The whispers will be ambiguous and made out of sounds of gust or the clatter of other ambient paraphernalia.

Concept

Strike Rich explores the interstices between our average daily routines and striking rich. It studies the tendency of Singaporeans to actively look out for lucky numbers, unit numbers and death certificates, and opportunities to strike rich instantaneously. Chances are most Singaporeans have experienced such sensations or superstitious luck through recurring numbers or coincidences that simply make them feel lucky, as if divine intervention.

Mechanics

Input—Distance sensor

Output—Audio player

Intended for single person.

Sketch

est. size 90cm diameter x 100cm extended height

 

iLight 2k19

Halo by Michael Davis

Halo is a series of kinetic sculptures stationed at Esplanade Park that react to touch with sound and light. They assume the form of halo-like rings that are stacked in a sequence of dynamic sizes and light up and dim as if breathing or convulsing like a sonic wave.

There is single frequency tone that plays from each sculpture, and changes as you touch other rings. The light on the rings also brighten when you touch them.

The intention of this installation is to create a link between the audience member of the past and the audience member of the future. It is almost as if they are interacting with each other indirectly, which is fascinating in theory considering it is bridging interaction between time in other words. There is also a child-like sensation of discovery when interacting with these simple mechanisms that are colourful and dystopian like the trees in the film Annihilation. It reminds me of the indirect kisses that you experience through sharing a straw with a friend.

Diagram of Halo‘s mechanics:

Transporta by Pixels

Transporta is an experience that brings you through a figurative journey of the big bang theory. The experience follows the audience member through a series of rooms that represent different stages of the big bang, making him feel like a particle or an insignificant piece of matter in a much more gargantuan phenomenon.

Follow through these clips:

Password: iamone

My fondest part of the series is the last room that allows us to paint on the wall with our hands (ref. to gif), as if we are disintegrating into many small particles. The interface also simulates the natural physics of space and inertia. When flung, the particles continue to throw themselves as means of mimicking the forces of inertia even after your hands leave the surface.

Diagram of the room’s mechanics:

Arachnid Orchestra .Jam Sessions

The Arachnid Orchestra is a dystopian-realistic society of spiders curated by the artist, Tomas Saraceno. He attaches midi parsing technology to the web habitat of spiders and uses them as a quasi-social musical instrument. Delicate vibrations created by spiders interacting with webs and other gently structural membrane instruments from the mind of Tomas.

As suggested by its name, the orchestra is extensively characterised that the spiders have names such as Nephila pilipes, Psechrus singaporensis and Heteropoda davidbowie. It gives us the added freedom of narrative in these non-human subjects.

The natural process of sculpture that we can appreciate through the web structures of each habitat gives us a sense of realism and research. The coexistence of these two realms creates a unique interactive experience.

The Arachnid Orchestra often holds jam sessions that allow the audience to enjoy the spiders music in collaboration with jazz and experimental musicians such as Bani Haykal. The spider’s music sounds harmonious to the human musician’s sounds such that it blends in as if a familiar interspecies collaboration.

However, the main purpose of these jam sessions is to allow the audience to communicate with the spiders, using music as a medium. This exploration of interspecies communication is cutting edge, forward looking and offers a unique two-way interactive opportunity.

An under-explored realm of interaction is the role of nature and its other living inhabitants. There is an ecstacy in deconstructing our lack of understanding to how our world works, new sensations are discovered because of our lack of knowledge. There is a child-like fantasy in reaching out and connecting for the first time.

In Arachnid Orchestra .Jam Sessions, it is the audience role to create the art that is the unfamiliar connection between our species and the Arachnids. The art lies not just in the interaction between spiders, but also in the experimental mode of interspecies communication that is fairly narrative.

Hear their sounds, click below—

More information can be found on their documentation site: http://www.arachnidorchestra.org/

Images from: http://ntu.ccasingapore.org/exhibitions/tomas-saraceno-arachnid-orchestra/