Waterwheel and Bubbles As I wrote earlier, I wanted to include the reflections off the bubbles into my installation. Since I wanted the reflections to come many at a time, I decided upon a circular repetitive mechanism, much like the spokes of the water wheel.
Supposedly, there will be a mechanised clockwork arm to repeatedly turn the bubble wand, and reflections would be created and reflected onto the surrounding space.
I tried making wands of different sizes uses pipe cleaners, to play around with the reflected outcome. However, I clearly did not think it through properly; the largest wand couldn’t sit properly into the soapy trough.
Clearly, most if not all of my ‘prototypes’ or experiments did not work out well at all. As such, I went to purchase a proper bubble machine from the stock racks. We’ll see how it goes in future post updates.
Cascade no. 2 is a continuation of the analog version of Cascade, but utilising different type of strings – aka rubber bands. Intended for audiences to pull and interact with, the elastic bands are meant to generate sound feedback, which would be more processed the further one stretches the bands.
However, I altered the structure of the initial concept as pulling sideways is a more practised movement than pulling it downwards. Pulling the rubber bands from underneath would also cause the elastic bands to pull back and jump around, potentially messing my strings. Hence, the sideways arrangement of the final project is more idealised for both restricting rubber band elastic feedback/movement and adapted for used human gestures.
Prof feedback-ed that this project might be an instance of too many details, whereby it could be further simplified yet bring across a more ‘purified’ message. I wanted each band to sound their own unique soundtrack, which instead made the patch more complicated. I also intended for the feedback sound to be more in tune with the vibrations (and hence more responsive), instead of just relying on changing the speed. However, I was not able to produce these in this piece. These are simple details, but yet were exceedingly crucial for this project to be successful. I should have tried it out earlier, and ruminated more on the different types of options for this project – eg. recording the physical twang sound and manipulating it instead of using a pre-recorded sound – perhaps, this would strengthen the linkage of sound to object, and increase responsiveness of the project.
Overview Grand Theft Avatar (2008) is a live performance by Second Front, hosted in the 3D virtual world Second Life, stimulating a bank robbery of the Lynden Bank to liberate the Lynden dollars held by the bank. The live performance was carried out as part of the “From Cinema to Machinama” panel held physically at the San Francisco Art Institute, and the virtual avatars took on the guise of panel members. Impersonated panel members included new media artists and theorists: Camille Utterback, Char Davis, Howard Reingold and Christiane Paul[i].
After grabbing the loot, the members took a dramatic exit, first through an extravagant scattering of the loot into the air, and finally ending the performance by stimulating the ending of Kubrick’s 1964 film Dr. Strangelove, or How I learned to stop worrying and Come the Bomb by riding hydrogen bombs into oblivion, Slim Pickens (aka Rodeo)-style into the sunset[i].
Artificially Expanding Reality Grand Theft Avatar (GTA) is a metaphor on the blinding artificiality of the fabricated world. It is situated away from the physical space, remotely operating within no set boundary – within the third space, where laws of the known world were disturbingly abandoned. It disrupts and questions the known traditional social etiquette and structure, through fragmenting the sense of reality and imbibes disillusionment. The lines between the reality we live in, the reality that we act out and, the reality that we realise gradually becomes blurred. The constructed boundaries of reality are thus expanded,
The third space is a fluid matrix of potentiality and realizable connections to the most far-reaching remoteness. – Randall Packer, The Third Space (2014)
Derision of the Human Presence The group constructs their own alternate ego, the artificial avatar on Second Life, and later, disguising themselves as other personas. Essentially, they erase their own presence digitally and mindfully, as their digital avatars are the sole outcome of their personification on the Second Life platform.
In GTA, Second Front justifies their action with a ludicrous excuse – the mocking liberation of the supposedly suppressed Lynden dollars on the guise of a bank heist, and later, the wanton abandonment of those rescued dollars after escaping the venue. With this, they effectually apply another layer of mockery to the work: the avatars themselves lack a stable existential identity; their ridiculous actions further fuels the hypothesis that in actuality, they do not function as per the known world, but rather, can only exist ephemerally, within the uninhibited constrains of the third space.
References [i] Guertin, Carolyn. Digital Prohibition: Piracy And Authorship In New Media Art. 1st ed., Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd, 2012,.
[ii] Packer R. “The Third Space,” (2014) in Reportage from the Aesthetic Edge
Both Löwgren and Stolterman adopted a realistic approach towards the theory of critical design, and recognise the limitation that all designs will always be imperfect, due to the complexity of the design situation. However, through the prediction of social systems and technical components, the product is able to achieve success, or a systemic whole. Hence, they propose that good design is still possible, dependent on the designer.
Later, the authors mentioned that writing acts as the medium to create, but instead the ultimate created product depends on the designer. As his role as the final steward in the production process, the thoughtful designer depends on the theoretics of knowing and predicting in attempting to determine the usefulness of the product for consumers, as part of what they term ‘design as knowledge construction’. The writing tends to edge towards the more practical aspects of a product; if applied to art, it fails to account for the consumer desire for art which cannot be quantified using a theoretical formula.
On a similar scale, they also term digital products ‘Digitial Artefacts’ – namely, designed things built around a core of information technology. The products thus ‘impact on everyday lives’, be it individually or socially, and subsequently the environment and therefore the nature in which we live in. As an extension to this theory, the products are not restricted to simply being a catalyst in helping us function our everyday lives, but also, to perhaps, shape and alter it in hopefully beneficial ways. The way we now live in this constructed world can be purposefully and deliberately changed by us.
In particular, smart home technology, fosters this alteration in an ambitious attempt to further streamline our way of living. In my personal opinion, one of the reasons why such technology has not achieved widespread success is that of it being hard to alter our habits of living (cultural aspect), and also that it might be too intrusive into our everyday lives. Nevertheless, it remains a breakthrough in which interactive design strives to break out beyond being simply contained to a singular body, to affecting the wider environment.
Example projects of thoughtfully designed interactive experience:
Impulse is a digital installation fruited from a collaborative effort by Canadian designers and artists, consisting of 30 illuminated see-saws. Each see-saw was fitted with LEDs and speakers, and when played with, changes its light intensity and sound. Together, the 30 see-saws produce a melody.
The installation successfully incorporates play, an inherent humanistic feature, into a musical artwork, to engage the users in both auditory and kinaesthetic functions. Granted, the see saws will attract users on its own, but the added dimension of music and attractive lighting enhances the playing experience.
Part of the Apple iOS, the elastic scrolling is activated at the bottom of a webpage on a web browser. It gives user a cohesive and organic realisation of himself reaching the end of the page, rather than an abrupt ending.
Spectacles by Snapchat is a recording device that syncs with the Snapchat application on your phone. It’s sole function is to record videos, by pressing the button at the side of the Spectacles. Relatively simple, it functions solely for its only purpose.
Write a response to the reading and post 2 questions to the reading.
Can there ever be a designed good that would suit the needs of all the projected personas of users?
Would serving the human need guarantee long-term success for the product? Assuming that other factors such as project management and marketing are considered successful.
Designing for the Digital Age by Kim Goodwin, offers readers a detailed breakdown of the design process. While I do agree with her points, the first chapter could be better studied under certain cases which I would address in this response. With respect to today’s current digital age, there is an increasingly crucial need to adapt as user types and means of affordance are constantly changing. Not only does the visual styles of society change, the availability of multiple design companies on the market saturates the market with generally similar goods. Traditional methodology of creating goods to suit the tested and tried human need will no longer be a design breakthrough in today’s world, rather, I believe that recognising the unrealised human need and thus cater to it would help to distinct one’s design from the others.
It would be interesting to explore the definition of ‘human need’ itself (Goodwin defines design as, ‘the craft of visualising concrete solutions that serve human needs and goals within certain constrains’ (Goodwin, 3)). With respect to different personas, their needs would vary – a socialite would need a luxury bag to be compatible with her social status, while a worker with a labour intensive job would need just a durable work bag to store his equipment. As such, the goals of these two cases would differ, despite both items holding the same purpose for storage, and accordingly, the principles, process and practices.
Let us explore the concept of bespoke gifts. The situation has now been transformed, of designing an individualised product for a particular group of customers. In my opinion, the goal of the design no longer simply seeks to simply satisfy the human need, but rather to fulfil the want. Should the deadline be tightened if it is a last minute job, the project length will have to be shortened, potentially sacrificing some design aspects with speed. As mentioned in the text, design has to be within certain constrains: be it time-wise or resource availability. As such, I have come to realise that there will always be an inherent limitation in design, that designers will constantly try to overcome.
Part 1:Choose any current exhibition in Singapore (except for “Future World” at ArtScience), visit it and write a response. Select particular work(s) in the exhibit which inspire or interest you and do some research to find out how the work was developed and additional information about the artist.
What is not visible is not invisible; National Musuem of Singapore
What is not visible is not invisible – the title of the exhibition postulates that beyond the 2 distinct opposites of black, a more deep-seeded area of grey exists.
The title and design of this exhibition was inspired by the artwork of a similar title by French artist Julien Discrit – a lighted-text installation that lights up only when triggered by motion – paradoxically, the need to make seen the not visible can only be realised after being seen (visible). The exhibition, which features video, installations and sculptures, tries to bring to the surface deeper philosophical themes, through the uncustomary forms of art-making.
The exhibition reveals the not visible: the abstract, through the revisiting of both organic and structured forms of art. The exhibition layout adopted took the form of a fixed path, bringing the audience through a proportionate mixture of video and structural art, ultimately starting and ending with the artwork What is not visible is not invisible.
The deliberate placement of that artwork challenges our thoughts, of realising the absence of the not visible firstly through text, but later, through a series of thought-provoking artwork. By touring through the whole exhibition in a circular manner, one walks around the entire physical space, and metaphorically, concurrently expands the philosophical space of understanding.
This post will focus on two artworks in the exhibit, Grass Grows, and Blue Sail by Hans Haccke.
Hans Haccke (b. 1936) is a German-born conceptual artist whose process and materials are constantly changing. He favours creating minimalist sculptures from industrial materials and found objects. In the late 1950s to early 1960s, he joined part of an international art movement called Zero, where most of the works were monochromatic, geometric, kinetic and gestural. Zero also utilised nontraditional materials such as fire, water, light, and kinetic effects, which are reflected in Haccke’s pieces.
Haccke’s earlier works, Blue Sail, allude to movement, minimal expressions, while Grass Grows uses earthly elements – literally, Earth, and grass.
Despite his status as a conceptual artist, he prefers to label his art as thought provoking, rather than as conceptual pieces.
Blue Sail, 1965
Blue Sail features a fragile fragment of chiffon blue silk floating softly above a fan blowing above situated on the floor, Haccke labels it as a sculpture, questioning the status of art-making and production. The structure of Blue Sail remains nostalgically organic, with undulations unfurling gently, akin to waves of water, but created with non-traditional materials such as chiffon silk, and a fan. It reflects Haccke’s philosophy of debating against compartmentalisation.
According to Haccke,
“A ‘sculpture’ that physically reacts to its environment is no longer to be regarded as an object. The range of outside factors affecting it, as well as its own radius of action, reach beyond the space it materially occupies. It thus merges with the environment in a relationship that is better understood as a ‘system’ of interdependent processes. These processes evolve without the viewer’s empathy. He becomes a witness. A system is not imagined, it is real.”.
– Excerpt taken from Kinetic Systems: Jack Burnham And Hans Haacke (2014)
Thus with reference to Haccke, everything we are exposed to contributes to our view of the world – and with his artwork, he attempts to destroy the conceived status of the forced narrative of a sculpture, expanding and not constraining the borders of art.
Grass Grows, 1969
Grass Grows is a unique art piece featuring a mound of grass growing, oblivious to the conditions of the environment. The grass continues to grow, and exist as a system largely segregated from the cold floor of the museum, as an autonomous entity. Haccke uses this organic artwork to question the constitutional constrains of art, of its economic and political conditions.
Installation setup of Blue Sail
There are few components in the installation Blue Sail, and set-up is considerably simple – strategic placement of the few materials would help to create the work.
Blue Chiffon Silk (x 1)
Strings (x 4)
Fan (x 1)
As for the artwork Grass Grows, the installation setup simply comprises of digging up a perfect round mound of soil, taken from the ‘institutional roof’ where it originally grew at, and placing it in the set position, on the floor. However, the artwork requires the frequent watering, lest the grass dies.
[i] Chau, Christina. “Kinetic Systems: Jack Burnham And Hans Haacke”. Contemporaneity: Historical Presence In Visual Culture, vol 3, no. 1, 2014, pp. 62-76. University Library System, University Of Pittsburgh, doi:10.5195/contemp.2014.57.
How might the open source system of sharing and collective narrative be a creative inspiration and useful approach for your work as an artist or designer?
The open source system was created in part to subvert the limitations presented by intellectual property legal rights, and the construction of a collective platform for the sharing and compilation of knowledge. As an artist in the making, this open source system of sharing allows me to reference other artworks of both more established artists and my common peers, and be able to understand and pace myself as an individual against the common ground. Art is interpreted on different measures of understanding; the strength of the open source system as a platform to gather artists and thus different opinions and thinking styles, if utilised effectively, can be a resounding force to help artists, or specifically, me, to gather public opinion, and sought critiques which I believe is an essential process in honing oneself as an artist.
On a similar note, while the benefits of Open Source system is definitely admirable, one cannot help but to wonder if there are certain downsides to it. Open source projects which have currently been realised include Blender, Processing, and FastPokeMaps.se. FastPokeMaps however, met an unfortunate downfall when main developer Waryas allowed access to the code for a privileged few, but the code got leaked, and the project was ultimately stopped as a result. As a budding creator, while the open source system is helpful, I feel the need to be wary about the artwork/information I put up on the collaborative platform. Ultimately, this may defeat the purpose of the open; perhaps what we need is a synthesis of both safeguards, and responsible usage. For the starting artist though, the open source system will definitely be a good starting point for her.
This exercise seeks to explore and observe the reactions of two participants, who were placed in a particular situation (mediated by an object) for a few minutes.
For this exercise, the following items were tested out:
A rope arranged in a circle, a red rope to encircle participant’s waist, a flexible tube, bubble foam with holes at each corner (not pictured).
Considerations for chosen items:
Rope in circle arrangement: Participants were to stand in the circle, and create their own perceived figment of space from the visual of the rope-border
Red Rope: Tugs and pulls, participants are able to pull on their own extension of rope to affect the other
Flexible Tube: Participants are free to play around with tube
Bubble foam: Emulating the original artwork, participants can however play with bubble foam, and also tug it affecting the other. Mostly served to simply enforce closer proximity
By deliberately pacing the gap between the participants, this object makes participants self-conscious about the space around them, as they start to pay attention to the nearby elements. Also, personal space is intruded upon – by another person without their approval, and they feel uncomfortable with the adjusted space. A new situation is created: and the response recorded varied between users.
In general, there were 3 main responses:
1. Keeping quiet and standing awkwardly
2. Keeping occupied, fiddling with object
3. Chat with each other
After the experiment, participants voiced that the experiment forced them into a situation different from when the object had not been there, hence their different behavioural outcomes. With its presence, the object became a catalyst for setting up a social situation, where the personal space became the shared space. The participants thus share a common situation (of standing stationary at a given spot, facing another person), and a similar understanding of their current position.
When external factors such as friends came into play, a sense of ease was given to the participants – possibly mitigating the outcome of the experiment. Having familiar elements in an odd, new situation helps to allay some anxiety. The space has now expanded to involve the friends. Personally, I feel that at such, too many elements are present which erodes the position to create a personalised space for the two participants.
On the other hand, when friends join the experiment, anxiety tension is still created. Some friends continue chatting, ignoring the discomfort from the objects, whereas some become overly conscious about it.
However, participants who overcame their anxiety discomfort started to create another space with each other, through initiating polite talk. Below are a picture series of strangers (to the other) participating in the experiment:
Later, we instead gave a pair of participants free will to play around with the object. The lack of restriction allowed the participants to build a space around the object, rather than create an object as an outcome of the experiment. Their actions was now for the object, rather than mediated by the object. Now, the need to interact with the other has failed, failing the idea of creating a common space with the other.
It was interesting to note that some participants mimicked the other subconsciously through their actions.
It was truly an eye-opener to see interactive works in real life, and to connect the examples that have been shown in classes to the works experienced in teamlab’s exhibition. The works were all very engaging – user-friendly, family-friendly, with the strong use and integral usage of media in the works. The exhibition items also strongly included some elements of gameplay, a compelling way to induce interactivity, especially so when the museum was geared towards families and the general public.
The Creation of Space
All artworks utilised lights, and sounds as a medium for narration. The use of stunning visuals, especially in the exhibition Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together – A Whole Year per Hour was particularly strong, and truly brought the space to life. The reliance on space, and visuals, and the accompanying background sound, highly engaged sight, sound, and temporality of users. While the interactivity was slow, and not obvious if one does not take a closer look (in terms of how fast the flowers wither upon touch), in this instance, content (of the flowers, nature) tied it with the narrative seamlessly, and it was a pleasant experience as a user.
Visualising Computer Data
In many interactive media art pieces, I realised that visualising computer data is commonly utilised. Teamlab’s exhibit Universe of Water Particles, portrays a classic example where computer graphics was used to create a visually appealing artwork, though it has a lower amount of interactivity in comparison with the other artworks in the permanent exhibit. The juxtaposition of nature and the unnatural (ie. computerised work) is clearly seen in this work. Part of the natural landscape, a waterfall is rendered using computer graphics. It puts out the question that whether nature is no longer what it seems, and whether our natural landscape has been gradually overtaken, and deemed replaceable by artificial data. The strife between nature and the unnatural will always be present, and at times, in interactive media works, artists try to input realistic items from our real surroundings into the works, possibly edging into this debatable topic.
The Garden of Forking Paths is an interesting read that despite its subject matter, follows a linear narration. In the novel, Ts’ui Pen alleges that time is relative; and that at any one point of time, or period, there is an infinite series of possibilities, and that these different possibilities are all interlinked, “diverging, converging and parallel times”. He states that time exists like a web, and that at any one moment, every possibility of action is possible. His proposed theory remains abstract, yet it proves to show how the unpredictability of man, coupled with the curious linearity or non-linearity of time interplays.
Within the text itself, the motif of time frequently announced through Richard Madden’s hot pursuit of the author, holds a central place in the text. Time is very much regulated by the author, through his tedious note-taking. Similar to the text itself, the use of the word ‘time’ is rare, except in the later half of the text where Albert explains. The main story follows an overall linearity – the author escapes from Richard Madden, who follows on hot pursuit. Then, he finds Albert and discusses the novel with him, and kills him later when Richard Madden catches up with him. However, in this content, there are many different ‘paths’ of possibilities by different playing characters, and it can be almost seen as a game.
For instance, Richard Madden could have chosen not to catch the author, or could have formulated a different method rather than pursuing him ala cat and mouse style. Or, Albert could have chosen not to discuss the novel with the author, if he had sensed the author’s murderous intent. Also, if the author had not made a conscious plan to murder Albert afterwards, Richard Madden might not have arrested him. In all scenarios, there is always an option, and the availability of this option creates a symbolic labyrinth, with some choices actively available and conspicuously absent to the user at the same time. Thus, it can be argued that time, like these various possibilities, does not follow a linearity, but rather, its interweaving and connectivity, to some extent, gives space for a conceptual space to be formalised. Lastly, the text can be said to be an interactive generative style. Interactivity comes through the choices of options, and possibilities, or routes are then generated. It is in this unique sense of how it is generated that goes against what we have been termed to recognised, a linear sense of progression where the narrative is somewhat fixed. Without a fixed route, the option of choices might even bring you back to the past, hence the text can have a linear style and a non-linear style concurrently.