Jacquard by Google

Project Jacquard was created by Google’s Advanced Technology and Progress (ATAP) department to explore the possibilities of interactivity between the us users and our inseparable smart phones, namely through textiles. By weaving conductive threads into regular fabrics such as Denim, Project Jacquard has enabled cloth to recognise simple gestures that translates into controls; allowing it to become convenient interfaces for our phones and tablets.

“The yarn is created by replacing strands of thread with thin metal wires or conductive polymers. According to the team, their yarn is highly conductive as well as scalable, so it can be used in industrial weaving machines around the world.” Variations of colours, textures and patterns makes this product incredibly versatile.

Whenever we talk about interactivity in class, we are always referring to large scale projects and I think this one is a refreshing take. Due to the micro scale of threads, along with the familiarity of cloth, the end product may be unsurprisingly normal with an invisible interface. As creative technologist João Wilbert says “It’s somehow getting the technology out of the way and making interactions more natural and more seamless.”

In collaboration with Levi’s Commuter Range, Google developed a jacket designed for urban cyclist. So not only is it an interactive garment, it is a practical one that is water and odour-resistant. With a touch of the sleeve, users can access navigation prompts and information on nearby places, change their music, and even answer calls. Such gestures can also be programmed and customised to activate different commands through an app.

See here to check out its functions.

However, the ‘smart-ness’ of the jacket is limited as its sensitivity is only exclusive for touch patches on the cuff of the sleeve. A detachable smart tag as seen in the image will then transmit signals wirelessly to your device. It will also need to be recharge. So despite the jacket being washable once the smart tag is removed, I find the whole spectacle being ruined because the ‘natural’ and ‘seamless’ interaction is not that far from a touch-screen of my smartphone.





Silk Road: Tyrian Purple

The one thing that captivated me, out of all the research regarding the Silk Road, was Tyrian Purple, then, a symbol of power, authority and wealth. It was the first purple dye to not only produce such vivid range of pinks and violets but also said to be resistant to fade. It was harvested from Murex shellfishes, specifically the Murex trunculusPurpura lapillusHelix ianthina, and especially the Murex brandaris; each produces a different shade.

Types of Murex and their colours

The dye so was highly sought after, Silk Road traders would take detours just to obtain it. One can imagine its value as its production required thousands of these little shells. It was said that “10,000 shellfish would produce 1 gram of dyestuff, and that would only dye the hem of a garment in a deep colour”. The heap of the discarded shells would also reach a height of 40 meters high.

Of all its uses, I chose to focus on its use on Byzantine Silk for its influence as the combination became the core of Byzantine silk monopoly. It originates from Phoenicia, current day Lebanon, so it is also geologically more relevant.

The research have given me vibes of the the sea, ocean and water; connotations of waves and ripples. With the thought of Byzantine Silk as my main subject, I have found that often circle motifs are painted onto the silk and would fit well with the rippling effects. The shapes of the shells are rather interesting too and might open opportunities to explore the terrain of the spiral surface. Things are not set in stone yet, but one thing for sure is that Purple will be an accent colour.

Click Next to see my progress!










This is an interactive installation of a tree that seeks attention. When one walks towards or around it, the tree draws it’s branches in and out as if its ‘calling out’ to the viewer. Its roots crawl beneath the grass, ‘speaking’ through sounds from nature when presence is felt; such as birds tweeting and crunching of leaves.



As natives of urbanity, we tend to overlook nature in motion because of their stillness and ordinarity. The tree, a representation of nature, reacts to an approaching viewer; showing eagerness to connect and bring us closer to those we often ignore. It is a bashful tree, its movement more prominent when approach from a far; smaller more minute when near. It is a static object ‘brought to life’ through human attributes, displaying modern communication tendencies by craving interaction but shuns away when confronted. Together with its miniature size, the tree evokes endearment and encourages viewers to reach out as well.

The interface of the tree includes the grass patch with leaves specifically placed to guide the viewer to step on the Audio switches underneath and the make-believe tree facade to the mechanism. It classifies under valued users as (preferably) only a single person interacts with it at a time. However, the viewer is not responsible for all events, only the majority of the results are dependent on the viewer. Even without the user, the tree will be wiggling some branches to attract interest.

It is a parallel of real world experience as the feedback is in real time and place. The tangibility of the tree allows viewers to feel better connected with it while searching barefoot for its ‘tickle spots’ and being able to step into a transformed space. The interface is has constant elements that provide continuity. Results are repetitive but in random sequence to create an open structure. The viewer is free to communicate however they like by walking, hopping, crawling, rolling etc on the grass to gain different combinations and discover how the tree will react.


Position of switch mark with leaf clusters
Ambient lighting
Interact by walking around
Curious viewer reaching out
Close up of mechanism
Parallel Circuit
Testing prior to final presentation
Contruction of canopy
Construction of tree trunk
Putting everything together


Artist Reference

Reflection of the Age

The tree was inspired by Slovak Designer Juraj Kotian’s Reflection of the Age. His work ” is a analogical visualization of the exaggerated desire for the unreachable — something that we lose as soon as we want more than we can ever get at that specific moment in time.” Similar to that, we wanted draw attention to our tree by tapping into one of the raw desires of humanity.


Technical Setup

  6x Ultrasonic Sensors

14x Servo Motors (180°)

  1x Aluminium Circuit Floor Mat (2m radius semicircle)

16x Sponge Switch

  6x Portable Chargers


Technical Description

Technical aspect of the tree is divided into two parts – moving branches and ‘talking’ roots.

The moving branches were made using servo motors, gears, ultrasonic sensors and Arduino to code the whole set up. Ultrasonic sensors measure the viewer’s distance from the tree using the Arduino library “HCSR04”. For every 50cm, the Arduino-coded gears moves at different angles – 40 / 80 / 120 / 160 degrees. As for the servos, Millis was used to replace Delay for the duration of the servo motor to reach a certain angle.

The ‘talking’ roots were made using brown paper, aluminium foil, sponges, wires. Serial port was used to communicate between Arduino and Processing. Whereas the source code to randomize the music played was from http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?topic=96456.0 edited to fit the project.


Individual Responsibilities

Ying Hui – Coding communication between Processing and Arduino to produce sound effects when switches are stepped on in the floor mat.

Najiha – Construction and painting of tree bark and planting of branches and leaves.

Gladys – Construction of mechanism and canopy.

Jamie – Arduino coding of the interactive installation. Also assisted in wiring system and building of tree branches.


Individual Reflections



– This project took a toll on me!! Prior to this project, I have never tried coding before, and it was really eye-opening. There were tons of information online to assist me on coding. I mainly did coding on Arduino, which meant tons of research and trying out of different codes and equipment. Firstly, I used PIR sensor to detect motion, which worked, but I realised that I’m unable to measure distance through the PIR sensor. I then switched to ultrasonic sensor, which is able to measure distance, but only in a straight line, and we tried to make do with it. When coding, the ultrasonic and servo motor coding had delay and delayed the whole circuit. This was a huge challenge as online information mostly used delay and i had no idea what to do. Thankfully, I overcame this challenge and used Millis instead. It was confusing initially as I didn’t understand how Millis worked but it managed to make the whole circuit not laggy! Another challenge I faced towards the very end of the project was trying to remove everything from the breadboard, and then solder and attach it to the tree. With some help, i understood how to make the circuit work without the breadboard. I also had a challenge in coding the servo motor as I wanted the servo to stop moving once the audience is at least 1.2m away. I keyed in a code, but it didn’t seem to work, but on some instances it worked.



– Personally, for this project, while Jamie and Gladys work on the main code, I was part of the support crew with Najiha. I mainly took on the minor role of coding the floor mat and influenced the aesthetic of the whole installation by proposing the artificial grass mat. Originally, we were going for something more conceptual but because the grey coloured grass was too expensive and the product looked too realistic. Thus, the tree was made to match. As for the construction of the hidden circuit, the first idea to use photoresistors was too risky because the wire-parts were too fragile and prone to break under pressure.  So, I went with DIY switches with sponges and aluminium foil. Then there was the problem that if there is too little surface area, the circuit would not work. For example, when tape two pieces of aluminium foil on top of one another or when I attach a straight piece of wire on the aluminium foil. In the end, I wrapped the aluminium foil around each other and coiled the ends of the wires for better connection. Coding wise, things were fairly smooth. The only challenge would be the randomizing of sound played when pressing a switch. The plan was to print random strings of words (music title) as a variable of sort and allow minim library to read it. I had multiple methods such as StringLists, Arrays and ‘.shuffle’ to print random strings but minim was unable to read any of them. Eventually, after a night of countless iterations, I found that creating arrays of the AudioPlayer worked better than ‘arraying’ the sound files.




In this project, I did the construction and decoration of tree which is made up of cardboard, and some wooden sticks to hold the shape of trunk. As mentioned during presentation, scale was meant to be at least 1.7m to make it a realistic tree, but due to time constraint and limited resources, tree would be better off in a miniature size. The tree trunk was made of paper mache, black tissue paper, paint and roots were made with newspapers – ironically materials were by-products of trees. As for branches they were made up of sticks and leaves were mainly cut out by me. There were different variations of tree leaves but we stick to simple green ones instead.

I felt that this project had a good concept where something natural like a tree is given an electrical/technological element like servo motors and sensors. Because it is nice to combine two elements together and turn it into a concept that is relevant to Interstices. Practical-wise, I felt that coding was left completely to my other group members, so on one side there is a heavy duty coding and the other side is more on crafty-aspect of the tree. Even though I lead the team initially, everyone’s work was individualistic on most occasions and towards the end we manage to put everything in place and the installation went smoothly.




– I am quite skeptical about how the tree would turn out in the beginning but I’m very relieved and glad everything came together! I could only finish finalising the design of the canopy 2/3 weeks before final submission because our group wasn’t sure which mechanism was the most suitable one to mimic the movement of branches. I tried pop-out paper mechanism but it was too flimsy to handle the weight of the branches, I tried cam mechanism but it was too bulky, hence I decided to go with the rack and pinion mechanism. I had trouble fixing the servo to the mechanism initially as I had to make sure that the rack had enough teeth when the gear turned 180degrees so that the rack wouldn’t fall off the canopy. We also wasted one week of our time as we bought the wrong servos and were figuring out how to control the speed and angle of the continuous servos. I had to cut the gears manually using thick paper to finalise the design before sending them to be laser cut. I needed to very precise and careful when I attached the pathway to guide the branches as the movements of the gears had to be very exact. If the pathway is slanted, the gear might get stuck and stop moving. Another challenge I faced was designing the branches as they had to be designed and positioned in a way such that it wouldn’t be too heavy and cause the moving mechanism to be unbalanced and fall off the tree. The wiring system was also a mess I had to make sure that the wires wouldn’t get in the way of the branches and gears.


History of Design [ VC ] – Bauhaus

Creative Responds

When I think about shapes and colours in Singapore, the first thing that came to mind was Playgrounds. Looking at the example I found, a playground at West Coast Park, you can see the use of basic shapes and primary colours used in the structure in accordance to Kandinsky’s colour theory. Not all of them follow his rules but you may see the round roofs and stepping ‘stones’ are blue, the pillars are red and those hexagonal bars are yellow. In my creative response, the composition may be the plan view of a playground. Instead of using yellow as the dominant, I used red because it was favoured by Bauhaus the most.

West Coast Park Playground


In-class Assignments 1:

De Stijl Inspired Letters


In-class Assignments 2:

Disgust and Not-disgust reaction

History of Design [ VC ] – Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau Creative Responds

Art Nouveau is known for its organic curves, flowing lines, repetitions and decoration. The style is romantic with a sense of grandeur and fantasy. It uses many elements from nature such as floral and fauna. Thus I chose the canopy of a tree as the base of my creative respond. I cut out the most distinct branch from the image, replicated it and started to rotate and flip in all directions; while making sure that the lines were continuous and smooth.

Original Image

The pattern created not only reminds one of the painted glass windows of a church, it also brings to mind the skylight of the Rendezvous Hotel at Bras Basah.

Rendezvous Hotel


In-class Assignment 1:

Cubist Portrait


In-class Assignment 2:

William Morris, Cray Textile, 1883–4

Out of all of William Morris’s Textile patterns, this one stood out to me the most. The warm use of reds and oranges, contrasting against the dark black background, gives off a warmth feeling. The different types of flowers seems to be celebratory of some kind which reminded me to Chinese New Year. When compared with the pattern of Chinese Embroidery, the similarities are self-explanatory.

Example of Chinese Embroidery pattern


Principles of New Media

First rule.

New Media refers to the means of mass communication using digital technologies which means “all new media objects can be described formally (mathematically)”; in the language of computers. So which part of the ‘tree’ is new media? At first glance, it is very much just a normal model of a tree, until someone approaches The only part of the ‘tree’ digitized is the automation – the code and the electrical components. Thought it is a piece of interactive art that uses digital technology, it does not classify under new media as a whole.

In the ‘tree’ project, we are transcoding psyche to give the illusion that the supposed ‘inanimate’ object is sentient. The sixth sense of presence is the “cultural layer” where as the “computer layer” is the Arduino and Processing code.

La maison sensible (from Intro to Interactive I)

Manovich states that “Media used in cultural communication will have discrete levels.” But he also states the opposite that it may not be applied to all kinds of cultural communication. Does body language have discrete units? Maybe not. But transcoded body language, has discrete units due to its “fractal structure”. Just like how art and design are 2 separate categories – design is art but art is not design, New media and interactive art co-exist in a similar way. Discrete units do not have any meaningful connotations unless you are making glitch art.

Ra9 added into the code (Detroit Become Human)

Discrete units of the computer code are purely technical and are meaningless yet it enhances the semantics of the artwork. Bridging the disconnection between audience and display. Because…

Second rule.

“A new media object is subject to algorithmic manipulations. in other words, media becomes programmable.” This type of programming leds to 2 closely related principles – automation and variability.

As the ‘tree’ is not a self-learning program, it is a “low-level” automation; “in which the computer user modifies or creates from scratch a media object using templates or simple algorithms.” Its feedback is pre-programmed and will not change.

Another way of identifying a “low-level” automation from a “high-level” one is that, the variability of a “low-level” automation is dependent on the user while the variability of a “high-level” automation is solely determined by the program itself.

“Computer characters can display intelligence and skills only because programs place severe limits on our possible interactions with them. Put differently, computers can pretend to be intelligent only by tricking us into using a very small part of who we are when we communicate with the.”

The ‘tree’ is also a special case of a “low-level” automation pretending to be a “high-level” one. As it is not an artificial intelligence (AI) program but it seems to understand meaning; as mentioned above in transcoding.

Lastly, the modularity of new media allows for easy editing. Manovich described to be building blocks of code, stating that “The objects themselves can be combined into even larger objects – without losing their independence.” The ‘tree’ comes in 2 parts – Branch and roots, which can be be removed and still function on their own. Removing the discrete units however, would ruin the entire system.



The language of New Media by Lev Manovich

History of Design [ VC ] – Rebus

My Name:

Sound of a mosquito (ying~) + Blowing out air (hoo) + [ Spitting (Pui!) – P ]


In-class Assignment 1:



In-class Assignment 2:


Reference Images from Noun Project:

Spitting by Richard Cordero

listen mosquito by corpus delicti, GR

Blowing by AomAm, TH

History of Design [ IM ] – HYPERESSAY

Soundscape of Body was created by Hong Kong New Media Artist – Keith Lam, for the 2018 Body Donation Day by the Body Donation Program of the University of Hong Kong. The piece was specially choreographed to bring awareness to the relationship between life and death.

As the artwork comes in two parts, there are two sets of experiences – the first being the performance, the second being the audiences’s own trial with the body scanner. Associative thinking comes into play as the artwork provokes thoughts about the value and meaning of life and our body; which will be further discussed in the immersion section.

The experience in the first part of Soundscape of Body may be constant for every person but how each person perceive it, is different. Each individual had lived different lives, some might have lost a love one, others might once have been close-to-death. The way each reflects on the subject of life and death is variant, adding on to the plurality of the outcome on top of the indeterminacy of entropy; caused by the subject’s freedom of movement.

Audience Trial

However, unlike Variation V, Soundscape of Body is less about Entropy and more about the message received. It is obvious that the second part of the event stands higher on the interactivity scale which results in a change in the role of viewer. From being a passive viewer of a performance, to an active participant of your their creation. In spite of the change in perspective, it is still a very sensual piece of work, onstage and offstage; more so onstage when they are under the scanner.

We may suggest that such posture is one common in life and death. Especially when the scanner forces the participant to lay down flat, in a rather unnatural stiff way as if they were in a coffin. Even though the bed on which the participants lay is not constrained, the scanner above somehow makes one uncomfortable and shrinks within range of the scanner. Thus willing to the catalyst of behavioral art.

When looking at the performance as a whole, the artwork carries similar mechanics to John Cage’s Variation V. Both artworks are relies on the movements of the human body and vice versa. It is a interdependent relationship. “A retroactive process of human involvement, in which the artifact functions as both matrix and catalyst.” as stated by Roy Ascotts in his essay – Behavioral Art and Cybernetic Vision. Matrix being the Processing and Arduino system and catalyst being the visual and sound output. This two factors combine to create behavioral art, where by the experience of ‘viewing’ the artwork is no longer one dimensional.

Though majority of the artwork resides in Interactivity, there are elements from Hypermedia and Immersion too. A part of the experience includes viewing your own and other audience’s Body Soundscape online, ready for download and online sharing.

Experience Section

There is awe when visiting the site as the soundscapes deconstructs the body into abstract representation of graphs and unfamiliar sounds. They bears the same impression of collective narrative from Shelly Jackson’s SKIN project, where a story is told in a form of tattoos on 2095 volunteers; each holding one word to the story. If one of these 2095 people were to die, the story would be incomplete; going back to the value and meaning of life and death. It is a massive web made of connections in which you sense when replaying the soundscapes, seeing the vibrations of others lets one in to their astral space. It is almost spiritual as one ‘touches’ a another’s core of existence.

Keith Lam himself had mentioned his preference for tangibility in his work at an interview. He says that physical form adds a different aspect to an artwork; “Something direct, real, and perhaps a formal way of communicating with our audience” and that “virtual reality should be used out of the of necessity in creating un-real things”.

It is true that VR now has the ability to immerse the user, mimicking close to reality. But as Keith Lam mentions, it is not the only way and should be used only when necessary. Without the use of VR, he is still able to incorporate a rather strong immersive experience for the audience as presence is psychological; perceived in your personal mind space.


For more details on the Artist: https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/ytan149/hyperessay-keith-lam/

For more details on the artwork: https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/ytan149/hyperessay-soundscape-of-body/