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American and European Design in the 40s-50s

 

 

-International Style
-The Machine Age
-Streamlining
-Organic Design and Biomorphism

In the 40s and 50s, multiple design movements overlapped with and existed simultaneously in America, some of which originated from Europe, namely the International Style, Machine Age, Streamlining and Organic Design. Such movements were prefaced by historical circumstances that gave people reason to use design as a common language to assert their opinions in order to drive society towards a new direction towards a more orderly and organic design language after the chaos of World War I.

 

Following World War 1, the Machine Age (1920s) saw to the celebration of technology, machinery and the mass production of transportation during the Industrial Revolution. household items and other electronic devices. During this time period, Henry Ford perfected his assembly one automobiles, creating affordable, mass-produced cars for the average person. Literature during this period such as Brave New World highlights efficiency, production and consumerism as the most important values in society. Exponential scientific discovery motivated more exploratory and innovative designs. Designers such as Peter Behrens and Marcel Breuer designed buildings, home appliances that were functional but unobstructed designs which featured exposed screws and undecorated surfaces. (Donald J. Bush, 2017) Many designs resembled parts of the machines that produced them and were devoid of an individual’s touch.

 

The International Style (1920s to 1930s), one of the first styles to emerge post-war, which was a largely architectural modernist movement coined by European architects Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This style saw to the construction of rectilinear buildings using mainly steel, concrete and glass, light and the removal of excess ornamentation from buildings, giving it a sense of architectural integrity. (Clericuzio, P. 2018) Some of the most prolific designers who contributed to the International Style are Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius and Oud. Frank Lloyd Wright. Le Corbusier’s design of Villa de Savoye was a quintessential example of the movement. (“Modern architecture: International exhibition”, MoMA catalogue, 1932). There was also the use of cantilever construction that lessen the need for bulky, heavy structural columns and made open interior spaces more feasible. Consequentially, there was also rapid erection of skyscrapers during this period of time, an example being the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society building (1932), the first International Style building to be built in 1932 during the Great Depression, which featured practicality in the prioritisation of volume over mass and balance over symmetry. (Dupré, J, 1996)

 

While the machine age successfully introduced the mass production of transport and goods, it also caused many people to accept the “haphazard, disorderly look” (Carma. R, 2000) of such inventions and Streamline Moderne (1930s), which was popularised by Norman Bel Geddes in his book “Horizons” (1932),  served as a movement to re-introduce appreciation for the aesthetics of mass-produced goods. Streamline Moderne products often resembled forms of fast-moving transport machines such as trains and cars that took into account factors of laminar and turbulent flow of the wind and combatted wind resistance since the movement was driven by the desire for speed and efficiency such as with Buckminster’s Dymaxion car (1933) and Burlington’s Zephyr Train (1934). There many curves included in designs to exude dynamic functionalism in static structures as inspired by the Futurism movement that preceded this movement. The motifs of reductionist and continuity were adopted as speed and efficiency were desirable goals during the chaos of World War 1 and the Great Depression.(Donald J., 2017)  The acknowledgement of the women proportion of consumers was also evident with the increase in streamlined household products (Kowalik, W., 2017), such as with Henry Dreyfuss’s Streamline Iron resembling a typical streamlined train. The modernising of domestic surroundings allowed for the celebration of progress in technological advancement while enjoying forms that are more curvilinear and colourful compared to designs of International Style and symbolised economic growth in society.

 

Following streamlining the rise of organic design and bi-morphism. “Organic design” (1930s – 1960s) was coined by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright who was interested in the relationship between buildings and their surrounding environments and designed buildings that used incorporated natural elements such as light, plants and water with open spaces that provided a place for natural foliage to grow, and is most evident in his design of Fallingwater in southwestern Pennsylvania. (“Organic Architecture”, Guggenheim, 2016) Organic design borrowed its philosophy from the art movements of Surrealist and Art Nouveau movements that preceded it, including many curvilinear forms and nature motifs (Alloway L., 2005) while staying true to the motto of “form follows function” as coined by Louis Sullivan. Designs that incorporated Biomorphism, coined by Geoffrey Grigson in 1935, highlights the importance of anthropometry, which puts the human user at the centre of design. Designers like Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen who created the Womb Chair (1946) and Alvar Aalto who created the Paimio armchair (1932) created chairs that were made of natural materials and fit the shape of the human body. Ideal body measurement charts such as Modulor by Le Corbusier and “Joe” and “Josephine” by Henry Dreyfuss were also developed for product designers to design their products in a more ergonomic manner. Organic design was able to incorporate the human psyche into their designs and which made it more appealing to consumers and helped to drive the economy during the Great Depression.

In conclusion, under historical circumstances, design played differing roles that served to help society. As such, design trends responded to the state of society at any point of time. From mass-produced products with no personal flavour to the development of a design-thinking methodology which is user-orientated. Even today, it is hard for designers to divorce the concept of their design from human psyche in order to appeal to the masses, as can be seen from the priority of user-experience in 21st century design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography:

“The International Style Movement Overview and Analysis”. [Internet]. 2018. TheArtStory.org.  Content compiled and written by Peter Clericuzio. Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors. Available from: https://www.theartstory.org/movement-international-style.htm [Accessed 06 Nov 2018]

ALLOWAY, L. (2005). The Biomorphic ʹ40s. In Landau E. (Ed.), Reading Abstract Expressionism: Context and Critique (pp. 250-256). Yale University Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezlibproxy1.ntu.edu.sg/stable/j.ctt32bk1z.37

Carma R. Gorman. (2000). “An Educated Demand:” The Implications of “Art in Every Day Life” for American Industrial Design, 1925-1950. Design Issues, (3), 45. Retrieved from http://ezlibproxy1.ntu.edu.sg/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsjsr&AN=edsjsr.1511815&site=eds-live&scope=site

 

Donald J. Bush. (2017). Streamlining and American Industrial Design, (4), 309. Retrieved from http://ezlibproxy1.ntu.edu.sg/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edspmu&AN=edspmu.S1530928274400049&site=eds-live&scope=site

Dupré, Judith (1996). Skyscrapers. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc. p. 41. ISBN 1-884822-45-2.

KOWALIK, W.. Streamline Moderne Design in Consumer Culture and Transportation Infrastructure: Design for the Twentieth Century. New Errands: The Undergraduate Journal of American Studies, North America, 5, sep. 2017. Available at: <https://journals.psu.edu/ne/article/view/60475>. Date accessed: 07 Nov. 2018

Modern Architecture: International Exhibition | MoMA. (1932). Retrieved from https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/2044

Organic Architecture. (2016, November 17). Retrieved from https://www.guggenheim.org/arts-curriculum/topic/organic-architecture

Tisc, Jonathan M.; Karl Weber (1996). The Power of We: Succeeding Through Partnerships. Wiley. p. 175. ISBN 0-471-65282-2.

 

 

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Artist Manifesto: START WARS; GROW ART!!

History of Design – Artist Manifesto: START WARS; GROW ART!!

 

My current main Manifesto is “START WARS!!! Grow art!” (Disclaimer: No we should not start actual wars). It takes the form of a propaganda-looking poster that was using during regimes to grab the attention of and communicate ideas to the masses.
The idea behind it is that design is by humans, for humans. Throughout history, artists and designers have used their works as a form of universal language to challenge an ongoing mindset. This is evident in movements such as Dada, where even Dada went against himself, Streamlining after the Machine Age, and even today we are trying to marry the idea of using technology into human-centric designs. Usually after periods of dispute, strong assertions were made using art to communicate to the masses and propose to them potential directions they could drive society towards as fellow members of society. They may not have been the most aesthetically pleasing (even that is subjective), but what mattered was the philosophy behind the works and the process of creating them. The most successful movements often differentiated themselves with stark contrasts with movements before, or coexisting with them.
So my vision statement and call to action would be for designers to aim to have a larger outreach and get more people to participate in expressing their personal opinions and owning their rights to having an opinion and making them feel that it that matters in society. As such, they have to be well-informed about the world around them and investigate disputes and their underlying reasons and encourage discussion about the current state of society and not just accept society as it is.
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b a u h a u s

|| For this creative response assignment, we had to do a bauhaus-inspired design while putting the context of Singapore into consideration.

 

Something that is really iconic to Singapore is the void deck space. In the past, void decks used to be places where residents could gather and conduct social activities, but with the myriad of rules of placed on permitted activities and control of the usage of this space, most residents would not choose to spend their free time chilling in the void deck and bonding with their neighbours. Coincidentally, a while back I took a photo of a void deck at my house which reminded me of how barren and boring void decks are. Being a resident of the HDB high rise flats community, I have always wished for residents to be given a chance to exercise creative freedom in our own living spaces.

voiddeck(); photo by me

This led me to think about a potential place to start: l e t t e r b o x e s.

Uniform and made of cold aluminium (both figuratively and literally), their current design really does not do much but emphasise the desolation of the void decks. Some residents even choose to lock the slits of their letterboxes because they want to avoid spam advertisements from being shoved in. In my opinion, I think the saddest thing is that residents do not even send each other any greeting cards, or any forms of letters. :’D

http://www.namlee.com.sg/sites/default/files/styles/galleryformatter_slide/public/boonkeng_letterbox.JPG?itok=ot682C0l

 

Inspired by the features of Bauhaus design, which is the consideration of functionality with form, geometrical shapes that are simple for mass production, I came up with a potential design for letter boxes in void decks (below)! The letterboxes are in hexagonal shapes, which not only are a really strong structure based on physics, but also resembles a beehive and represents how residents are living in a community like bees would. (hexagons would also make a lot more space for slightly thicker mail). The shapes are all relatively rounded off so that they appear more organic and less stiff, and the use of vibrant primary colours would give a splash of liveliness and congeniality to the entire void deck area.

Bauhaus-inspired letterbox design by me (Yue Ling)

I would be so incredibly happy if this sort of design were to be a reality in the future. *shamelessly hypothetically patents own design* :’D

Although a void deck literally means empty level, I really doubt it has to remain as a purely empty space. Something like a Bauhaus letterbox design would definitely do much to bring a sense of playfulness and conviviality within the living spaces of Singaporeans.

Creative Industry Report: Hello Monday

3 Reasons You’ll Love Hello Monday, You Won’t Believe No. 3!

Hello Monday – Just the perfect balance of fun and serious.

Hello Monday's Instagram
Hello Monday’s Instagram

When it comes to user interface/user experience (UI/UX) design, Hello Monday is sure to steal the hearts of many people. They are a creative studio specializing in digital branding, products and experiences. Named ‘Hello Monday’ because they aim to make Mondays better for everyone, they create delightful and explorative concepts to their clients though whimsical illustrations and micro-interactions that are sure to be only executed by meticulous professionals in their fields of web design and development.

Hello Monday currently has three offices in two countries (two in Aarhus and Copenhagen, Denmark and one in New York City, USA). Founded in 2006 by founding partners Rasmussen, Anders Jessen and Jeppe Aaen, Hello Monday is now made up of a team of 38 Mondayteers (Hello Monday’s employees) and boasts a total of 117 awards, including the Favourite Websites Award (FWA) and Global Association for Creative Advertising & Design (D&AD) awards. Its portfolio includes some of the clients include well-known organisations like Google, Youtube and MoMA.

 

Hello Monday Landing Page
Hello Monday Landing Page

01. Their deliver the whole package: experimental micro-interactions to explorative concepts.

Hello Monday projects include an incredible level of meticulousness from experimental micro-interactions to the larger design concepts.

One exemplary project is this project in collaboration with artist and performer Erika Senft Miller in which they designed a website to document her works. The concept of the site, free-exploration, is well-researched and actively mirrors the concept of Erika’s works as well.

Example: Erika Senft Miller's Portfolio Site
Example: Erika Senft Miller’s Portfolio Site

On the site, users would have to drag around the virtual space with their mouse, giving them the liberty to freely navigate the virtual space and explore the artist’s works. As you move around, the decorative lines in the background of the page make way for the cursor, creating an interesting interaction. The colours of the page would even change according to the day the project was held!

Early wireframing stage of Erika's portfolio site
Early wireframing stage of Erika’s portfolio site
Hello Monday's extensive process documentation
Hello Monday’s extensive process documentation

The best of it all is that Hello Monday documents their projects really well, from start to finish, including all their conceptualising and wireframing processes so visitors to the site are able to better appreciate the behind-the-scenes, and not just the final product.

For more projects with experimental digital interactions and experiences,  check these really cool ones out:

  1. Hollow – in collaboration with artist Kate Paterson
  2. Greenpeace – Into the Arctic
  3. Headbanger – An AI Experiment

02. They’re driven by passion and philanthropy.

Hello Monday also embarks on many meaningful and philanthropic projects such as Jeans for Refugees in collaboration with artist Johny Dar, where they created a website to showcase the jeans from celebrities which were artistically modified by the artist, meant to be auctioned off for a global charity fundraiser to help refugees worldwide.

Example: Jeans for Refugees
Example: Jeans for Refugees – in collaboration with Johny Dar

The micro-interactions of particles coming together to form the names of celebrity jeans donors mimic the hand-drawn art style of Johny Dar, and the way he artistically modifies the jeans.

Artistically modified jeans from celebrities by Johny Dar
Artistically modified jeans from celebrities by Johny Dar

For more projects with a philanthropic intention, check these ones out:

  1. One Day in my World – in collaboration with Witness Change
  2. Virunga National Park – Saving the gorillas of Congo

03. They have office mums!

Yes, they really do!

As if their top-notch quality work was not enough, Hello Monday is supported with a fantastic office culture. They have ‘office moms’ who act as “cultural coordinators”. They do not have to be female and they help to manage the office and prepare homemade lunch for the office. A glance through Hello Monday’s social media feed also shows how they frequently organise events for the whole team to get together and go on vacations. From the looks of it, Hello Monday is not just another digital agency, but more like a close-knitted family.

Hello Monday's screening event
Hello Monday’s screening event

Hello Monday’s website also features a comprehensive list of principles to which the Mondayteers align with, called their ‘Code of Honor‘.

Hello Monday's Code of Honour

Hello Monday's Code of Honour
Hello Monday’s Code of Honour

These are great principles not just for the Mondayteers, but for all designers to be aware of as well to strike a nice balance between being serious but also being able to have fun with their design work. With this amazing work culture, it is no wonder Hello Monday is constantly able to deliver great projects.

Conclusion

Hello Monday is a great inspiration to me as a designer as they are the perfect marriage between having fun and being serious at the same time. Their projects are proof that even serious topics can be made fun and memorable through intentional design. They also remind me to never stop exploring and experimenting. If anything, chancing upon Hello Monday has sure made my Mondays better. 😀

Find out more about Hello Monday here:
https://www.hellomonday.com/work

https://www.behance.net/hellomonday

https://medium.com/@mbuzzard/studio-profile-hello-monday-35db0644e92a

https://www.awwwards.com/sites/hello-monday

https://thefwa.com/profiles/hello-monday

https://thefwa.com/agency-spotlight/hello-monday

https://www.commarts.com/features/hello-monday

Typo 1 Assignment 2: Bedazzling Bodoni (Posters)

Draft 1 

 

Advice from Angeline:

Don’t put extra borders

Use complementary font for body copy

Delete redundant elements to make way more white space available to play with copy.

Try to fully utilise all the columns available. Don’t just flush everything to the right.

 

 

Draft 2

 

 

 

Draft 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Draft 4

 

 

 

 

Draft 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Typo 1 Assignment 1: VAG Rounded – Germany Motor Show

[Team Members: Jasmine, Tiffany, Yue Ling, Vania]

VAG ROUNDED

(a.k. a. VAG Rundschrift)

 

 

General Content

VAG Rounded is a typeface that was developed by Sedley Place in 1979 as part of the corporate branding for Volkswagen. The “VAG” stands for “Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft” (which is German for “Volkswagen Incorporated”). Insiders at Volkswagen joked that V.A.G means Von Adolf Gegründet (“Founded by Adolf“). In 1989, the font was published for public use by Adobe. Its designers were David Bristow, Gerry Barney, Ian Hay, Kit Cooper, and Terence Griffin. Sedley Place was a branding and marketing company created by members of the VW marketing group and still exists today as a powerful force in the world of high-end marketing.

 

There was no easy way to combine the existing Audi/VW font identities with Audi using a full serif Times and VW using the 1927-designed Futura font. The art and creative director decided that a totally new typeface was required, thus the concept of a rounded-end typeface as a basis for their typographic branding was born. Originally rendered by hand, the VAG Rounded design was later perfected using a PDP-8 computer.The VAG Rounded typeface was subsequently used in all corporate and dealer publications of VW, Audi VAG Bank and VAG leasing until the late eighties, when VW began another round of re-branding. The VAG Rounded design remained in use by VW until as late as 1992.

 

VAG Rounded was designed to act as the corporate typeface for the German car manufacturer Volkswagen. To address the problem of worldwide users obtaining the font for work commissioned by the company, it was placed in the public domain.

 

The anatomy of the VAG Rounded typeface has the following features:

  • Geometric San Serif
  • Originated in UK
  • 19th century grotesque
  • First typeface with all Rounded terminals
  • Closed aperture (of letter e)
  • Even stroke weight
  • No italics
  • Circular bold strokes
  • Short ascenders
  • Moderate descenders
  • Long extenders
  • Many type weight variation
  • Monoline bold stroke
  • Circular tittle of ‘i’. Slightly wider than the  stroke
  • Large x-height with low contrast
  • Rounded apex

There are many fonts variants developed under VAG Rounded.

Mainly because of the lack of hard and sharp edges being replaced by rounded and gentle curves, VAG Rounded presents a clever balance between a friendly appearance and a corporate seriousness.

 

To date, Volkswagen no longer uses VAG Rounded, but instead uses a Futura derivative called ‘VW Utopia’. However, VAG rounded (or its derivatives) is/are still used in other contexts, such as the Skype logo, Jollibee logo, or Apple keyboard. There are also other alternatives to VAG Rounded such as Arial Rounded and Helvetica Rounded.

 

Presentation Structure

1. Skit segment about a Volkswagen car show

A ratchet handmade Volkswagen car will enter the scene in the context of a car show set in Germany in 1979 after Volkswagen has acquired Audi. Staff from Volkswagen are struggling to promote and sell their new car model but they are unable to get anyone to buy their cars. The staff hold a board meeting with designers (fictionally from Sedley Place) to discuss their branding strategies to raise sales.

2. Audience participation segment

Audience members will get to put themselves in the shoes of the graphic designers. They will be presented with a chart of Futura for Volkswagen and Times for Audi and try to combine the both of them and come up with their own typeface (a few letters will be picked for them to save time) to solve the problem and help raise sales for Volkswagen.

 

3.  Analysis of VAG Rounded typeface

It will then be revealed that the actual chosen typeface is VAG Rounded. We will then proceed to analyse the typeface anatomy of VAG Rounded in detail.

 

4. Mention of contemporary application of VAG Rounded

It will then be explained why VAG Rounded was chosen (how it’s a friendly, yet corporate typeface) and is still currently used for branding and advertising in current times to target certain target audience (namely children most of the time).

5. Kahoot segment + Prize presentation

We will then summarise the presentation with a Kahoot segment to consolidate the information about VAG Rounded. The highest scorer will get a prize of a Jolliibee drink cup with its typeface being analysed with markers. 😀

6. 5 min Q&A

We will then accept any inquiries from the audience.

 

 


The Actual Skit

 

Thank god for the existence of Google drive.

 

Our group discussed over Whatsapp and Google docs to get everything together.

 

Link to the planning Google doc:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1srhyXJHbOD7V9-es_O0-y8IRlMml2iQhmoqJT0lfgTA/edit?usp=sharing

 

Link to our slides:

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1VBHPohVXDiI6cl6A3k1g5d61p0EnyV2kHdXfoc3SBxo/edit?usp=sharing

 

Slide from our presentation:

 

 

We contextualised everything into the scene of a car show and a board meeting. Our audience participation segments consisted of getting the audience to design a letter of their own typeface by taking Futura (used by VW) and Times (used by Audi) into consideration. This helps them to put themselves into the shoes of Gerry Barney and his team at Sedley Place when they were tasked to design a new typeface for VW back in 1979.

 

VW: Futura

 

Audi: Times

 

Our lovely classmates’ responses!

 

 

A few letters from the  VAG rounded typeface were also selected to make closer comparisons between the type anatomies of VAG rounded, and the original typefaces of VW and Audi (Futura and Times). Arial Rounded was also chosen for comparison since it was another rounded typeface that was similar to VAG rounded.

 

 

 

For our VW car prop, we picked up abandoned cardboard from Can 2 and transformed it over a night into a beautiful (and questionable) Volkswagen car. 😀

 

 

We dug the internet for examples of the original designs of advertising collateral from VW designed by Sedley Place back in 1980!

In addition to these old posters, we also emphasised how VAG Rounded is still currently used even in current times for brands/companies that are aiming for a convivial yet corporate vibe since VAG Rounded still has even stroke weight and very much follows the structure of basic shapes, unlike fonts like Arial Rounded (look at letter Q) or Comic Sans.

 

We also added in a Kahoot at the back to consolidate everyone’s knowledge about VAG Rounded!

 

Here are the Kahoot! questions:

 

 

Proof that we gave away an actual Jollibee voucher as promised! (Thanks Tiffany for going all the way to town to buy it!)

 

 

Group photo at the end of the presentation! 😀 Big thanks to everyone <3

 

xoxo

 

Personal reflections

 

Jasmine:

Through this project, I learnt a lot about the VAG Rounded font. Previously I was only aware of comic sans as a rounded font but after researching, I learnt the existence of different rounded fonts and how they vary as well. VAG Rounded also taught me how understanding the background of the typeface is crucial when applying it for different usage.

 

Vania:

This project taught me that there are more to consider when using typefaces—the context, the familiarity, the versatility, etc. It made me think that all typefaces have their own good and bad points—especially more with VAG Rounded, which I didn’t particularly like in the beginning. It made me want to break from just using the typefaces I like or I’m familiar with. Moreover, I also learnt that a group setting is beneficial for ideation and problem-solving, since not everyone will think the same way and that could be a good learning point for everyone.

 

Tiffany:

After researching about the development process of VAG Rounded typeface and how it portrays Volkswagen at that time, I feel that it is important to be aware of the trends and the characteristics of different type classifications and typefaces to better apply with the intended purpose of future projects. Preparation, time management and initiative in a team should be taken care for better presentations in the future.

 

Yue Ling:

 

This project taught me that sometimes using skits can really make presentations a lot more interesting (even though it’s harder on the presenters, but it’s worth it). Initially, there was not too much historical data to go on, but by contextualizing the presentation, more time is committed to making information more memorable through storytelling and audience engagement instead of rushing through a normal lecture-style presentation, and we even ended up slightly exceeding the 15 minute mark much to my surprise. I’ll definitely consider doing more crazy skits for my future presentations!

 

Resources

https://www.fonts.com/font/linotype/vag-rounded/story

http://typedia.com/explore/typeface/vag-rounded/

https://www.linotype.com/1562935/vag-rounded-family.html

https://www.behance.net/gallery/47323669/Type-History-VAG-Rounded

https://andiehannan.myportfolio.com/typography

Seddon, T. (2015). The evolution of type: A graphic guide to 100 landmark typefaces. Richmond Hill: Firefly Books.

Dawson, P. (2013). The field guide to typography : typefaces in the urban landscape. London : Thames & Hudson, 2013. Retrieved from http://ezlibproxy1.ntu.edu.sg/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cat05206a&AN=ntu.1267666&site=eds-live&scope=site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STRÄNG

STRÄNG Final Installation by Brendan, Bryan and Yue Ling

 

End-of-Sem Project Proposal:

 

STRÄNG

(Time-Space Warp Simulation)

 

STRÄNG is a wordplay on Doctor Strange’s name (who bends space and time) which means ‘string’ in Swedish and is also coincidentally related to the string theory about how our reality is shaped.

 

A superpower simulation that mimics the bending of space and time. There will be a clock mimicked by a running LED strip with RGB bulbs. There will be a one way mirror layer in front of the LED to create an infinity mirror illusion. The mirror will have a circular hole cut in the middle so that people can move their hands inside, and be able to touch a sheet of felt material. The RGB lights will change from blue to red across the rainbow spectrum when they do so (will add sound if time permits), and the running lights will start running at a slower speed.

Aside from that, there will be a servo motor behind a larger sheet of the same felt material away from the mirror that responds to the action by moving the sheet, thus creating the illusion that the participant’s hands are moving the sheet without actually touching the sheet. Whenever the motor moves, the LED lights around the frame of the material sheet will light up as well. In this sense, participants can feel like they are bending both time and space.

Things needed:

  1. LED strip
  2. Wood material for the box (probably will be spray-painted)
  3. (Elastic) Felt material
  4. Frame to hold felt material
  5. Servo-motor (have to fix something on it)
  6. Diffuser frame (borrow from film store)
  7. Ultra-sonic sensors/touch sensors.
  8. Speakers (If time permits)

 

Stuff to code for:

  1. Code for LED running strip (colours and speed)
  2. Servo motor.
  3. Response between touch sensor in the box and the servo motor on the other side

 

 

In the end, we had 2 main codes and used 2 Arduino circuit boards. One was for linking the LEDs and ultrasonic sensor while the other was for linking the flex sensor and servo motors. We shared a lot of the coding workload so it’s hard to be definitive but if we really had to, it would be something like:

Bryan – LEDs

Brendan – Ultrasonic sensors

Me – Servo motors

Challenges faced in the form of advice for future programming students:

 

#1     Do not go shopping at Sim Lim Tower on a Sunday.

#2     Go to Continental Electronics Pte Ltd #B1-23/24/25 to get WS2811 LED strips which are programmable by Arduino. Those lights are pricey though, 1m for $18 but do it for the project!

#3     If you do not take IM 1 and are deprived of your free Arduino kit, do get wires. Lots of them. Get the male to female connectors too.

#4     Nope, you can’t laser cut glass. Only acrylic mirrors from Artfriend (one costs $26)!

#5     Example codes and libraries are your best friends! We tried coding the running light pattern by ourselves one evening for around 3 hours but still couldn’t figure it out but then I found an example code and it solved like 80% of our problems. Just trust open-source culture.

#6     Yes we have flex sensors that can be borrowed from the film store. If you get the one soldered down you need male to female connectors.

#7     Loose wires were a huge problem for us, we had yet to try hot glue but it’s worth the try! Getting longer wires would probably have helped!

#8     The fabric of the black flag borrowed from the film store is way too tough. We just used Bryan’s old shirt. (We really wanted to use a stretchy material like Spandex initially but that’s too expensive)

 

Future Developments:

This installation may be small (because we’re on a low budget) but imagine being in a room with a massive infinity mirror where you can change its lighting using gestures! When you raise your hand in, motors move the other side of the room! T r i p p y

On the day of presentation we didn’t include music, but when we set it up the day after in its proper orientation and played music, it really gave the installation the atmosphere it needed!! Really important element for immersion.

Also do give a proper preface to your viewers about your installation! A well-conveyed context isn’t only fluff!!! It gives the installation more meaning and affects the way the participant views the artwork!

It is probably worth the try to place the ultrasonic sensor behind the thin piece of fabric and propped up by some piece of foam instead of placing it directly at the end of the tube since it was easily accessible by the participants and they could have just pulled it out.

P.S.: I just named a picture of the LEDs “strang” + “led” but I realised it literally spells “strangled” oh god

 

PICS OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN:

 

By default, the LED lights are a combination of warm hues. The light gradient is also rotating at a quick and steady pace.
As the participant’s hand reaches deeper into the tube, the distance sensed by the ultrasonic sensor decreases and this changes the hues of the light to cooler hues and slows down the pace of the light rotation.
When the participant’s hand reaches all the way to the end of the tube, the lights change completely to a bluish hue with purple light rotating.

 

Here is a video of a demonstration done by our participant Jacob in the video below!

As the participant’s hand reaches the end of the tube to touch the cloth material at the end of it, they can push even further to bend the flex sensor. This changes the resistance read by the sensor and thus triggers the 3 servo motors coded for in the same program.