Author Archives: Alexa Di Luca

Post Mortem: Project 1:: SLC in You

This is the final installation of project one.

This is the final installation of project one.

Installation Process Our installation was very simple. We attached each mosaic print to to the wall with tape. For the wall text, we printed out the question “Do you see yourself in SLC? Do you see SLC in yourself?” This was then attached to a long piece of styrofoam and taped to the wall. It was placed in the middle of the two prints. Our installation space was near the elevator and staircase on the middle floor of Heimbold. We chose this space instead of the original space we were assigned to because it allowed the viewer to step back farther. This enhanced the user experience because it allowed the viewer to see the illusion of the mosaic better. It also had a lot of natural lighting in the space, which made the details in the project easier to see.
This is final mosaic of the SLC sign, using various photos of the SLC campus and students.

This is final mosaic of the SLC sign, using various photos of the SLC campus and students.

This is the final mosaic of a student, using various photos of the SLC campus and students.

This is the final mosaic of a student, using various photos of the SLC campus and students.

What went right? For this project, one of the main ambitions was for us to create something visually artistic. Though we juggled with various possibilities of what we could create artistically, it remained a staple in how we wanted to present our juxtaposition. The fact that we were able to maintain an artistically clever presentation was a success for this project. It was a greater success that our photographic mosaic turned out as well as it did. The final posters were detailed enough to be able to distinguish the smaller pictures that formed the greater. A fear we had while creating the posters was that the resolution would not be generous enough for people to identify the smaller photos, rendering our posters giant pixelated images.   What went wrong? The major shortcoming of this project was the amount of pictures we took. We took enough to satisfy a minimal color palette, but our goal was to incorporate many student profiles in order to create a better representation of the student body and produce something more people could identify with visually. It took more effort and time than we had expected to ask the individuals we did represent, proving we had underestimated our ability to create a portfolio with many profiles. In the end it did not matter as much since the posters still came out clearly with all the people we had included somewhere. However, it would have created a better impact if more of the student body, and maybe even the facility, were portrayed among the smaller images. Another issue with the project was that we had problems printing. The first campus mosaic we had printed was on a shiny paper and the color came out very dark. We reprinted the mosaic of the campus to match the paper and texture of the student mosaic.    

Project #2 Proposal: Stress Catcher

A drawing of how the bubbles would look.

A drawing of how the bubbles would look.

For project two, we are planning to make a stress catcher. The design of the project will be to have an electronic representation of bubbles.  Within each bubble, there will be an image or word that conveys something stressful. For example, common stressful elements that are relatable to students include tests, homework, alarm clocks, parents, tuition bills etc. This will help display specific stressful aspects in a clear way to the user. This acts as a catcher because it is transferring the user’s stress away from their body to the program. When the user clicks on the bubble, it will pop and disappear, providing a simple reaction to their input. We decided to choose bubbles since bubble wrap is commonly associated with relieving stress. Many find popping bubble wrap to be a therapeutic act, and so we wanted to recreate this interaction to catch the stress of others. In addition, we chose to use bubbles to act as the catcher because when people feel stressed, they often describe they way they are feeling as being physically trapped. A bubble is the perfect representation because it acts as a confinement. This project connects to Anthony Dunne’s project descriptions in his book. In Hertzian Tales, Dunne points out that ‘Informance’ aims to persuade an audience that a product fits and has a place. But here the aim was not to convince an audience of need, but to draw them into a ‘what if…’ scenario, a ‘value fiction’ to stimulate desire for change” (Dunne, 128-129). This relates to the idea of a catcher because the purpose of this project is to create an object that can figuratively catch something that isn’t necessarily valued. Our design involves bubbles that capture a person’s stress. This project isn’t based on need, but is a “what if” scenario because stress is an emotion and therefore isn’t tangible. This increases the desire for change because people will want to change the levels of stress they feel by popping the bubbles. The idea of capturing people’s stress in an electronic representation follows Dunne’s guidelines in this chapter.
Popping bubble wrap is  common stress reliever.

Popping bubble wrap is common a stress reliever.

The project is interactive for the user because they will be able to visually make the “stress” go away. The program will provide a continuous supply of bubbles for any amount of users and any amount of stress.  

Project 1 Proposal: Who benefits the most? The student or the institution?

A general outline of what the completed project will look like once installed.

A general outline of what the completed project will look like once installed.

Visual Aspects: In the project “Who benefits the most? The student or the institution?,” the juxtaposition of the two different groups of people are shown through the use of photographic mosaics. On the left, an image of a student will be shown and on the right, an image of SLC’s campus will be shown. Each picture will be made up of smaller images. This medium will be very similar to the popular style of pointillism, which relies on the collection of colored dots to create a broader image; however, instead of dots, the project will use photo mosaics. The smaller images are positioned so that their general color correlates with the colors of the greater image, recreating the image. The smaller images within the project will be photos of the SLC student body, faculty and campus.
An example of a photographic mosaic. An image of a seagull is formulated with smaller pictures of birds in hexagonal tiles.

An example of a photographic mosaic. The image of a seagull is formulated with smaller pictures of birds in hexagonal tiles.

Juxtaposition: The juxtaposition comes from the idea that the student and the institution exists on opposite sides of the coin. Although they work together in a complementary relationship, they provide and receive differently from this mutual interaction. What the student gains from the college experience is an education, guidance, and life skills. In return, the college receives the student’s tuition, productivity, and possible future reputation. In this juxtaposition, it is easy to imagine the student as a consumer and the institution as the supplier because the student and their family are paying for the services of the college. This reveals the juxtaposition of the buyer and the supplier. And even though the titles within the buyer-seller relationship can be reversed, the opposition remains the same. Although, we chose to have the two photographic mosaics be of an SLC student and the campus, the juxtaposition posed relates to all colleges. The message that we are trying to put out there is that the relationship of a student and their college is a complicated one that involves beneficial and detrimental factors for both parties. Question: The questions that will be in between the two images is “Who benefits the most? The student or the institution?” These two short phrases will help clear up any confusion that the viewer may have. The concise wording reveals the two groups of people involved in the juxtaposition. It also directly makes the viewer think about the relationship of the student and institution.
An example of the type of images of the campus used in the photo mosaic. The entrance to Heimbold is mostly grey and so can be used to represent a grey color in the greater picture of the student.

An example of the type of images of the campus used in the photo mosaic. The entrance to Heimbold is mostly grey and so can be used to represent a grey color in the greater picture of the student.

Social Network: A photo mosaic alone is not a social object, but we made it into one by relating the two images to the juxtaposition of a bigger issue. Since we are using images from the campus and members of the SLC community, it creates a personal connection with viewers that is shared with everyone else on this campus. The object is relative because it pertains to the reason we are all here: the college itself.  

Post Mortem: Project 2:: Magic Ball

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For my second project, I created a magic ball that is a spin off of a “magic 8 ball.” Instead of shaking the ball and getting an answer to their yes/no question, the user will click the ball and it will generate a random answer to their question. Some of the phrases I used range from “signs pointing to yes” to “definitely not” to “cannot predict.” I chose several simple answers because they are applicable to any yes/no question.

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I wanted to design something that people of all ages could interact with. I feel like this project did a good job of achieving that because it creates a low barrier of entry for the user. They don’t have to say their question out loud, but can keep it to themselves. Even though this interactive is very easy to use, it still generates a fun outcome for the user. They won’t always get the same answer to their question, so it creates the element of surprise. I think that this enhances the playfulness of the project because its’ outcome is unexpected.

Something that went right was the rough build. I had originally developed a rough prototype very fast. The random text selector was the main function of the project, so coding this aspect was simple. After I had developed the foundation of my project, I had trouble finding the right ways to capture the user into mystifying mood.

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Along the way, I made many improvements to the design of the project. First, I started with a ball that generated colors randomly. I changed the palette of the colors to be more concentrated towards blues and purples. I think that this improved the overall look because all of the different colors changing at a high frame rate were overwhelming to the user. This makes the overall feel seem more relaxed. In addition, I played a lot with different fonts. It took me a while before I found the right one that would capture and transport the user to a mystifying mood. The font I chose resembles an old fashioned, traditional type face, that kind of reminds me of the time period of the Salem Witch Trials. I thought that this was perfect for the design of the project because it definitely helped create a magical atmosphere. Furthermore, I made the stationary stars move across the ball. I think that this improved the bewitching effect I was going for because it made the interaction more interesting. Finally, another change I made was that I added a border around the magic ball. I wanted to stick to the blue and purple color palette that I had created, but enhance it even more. So, I decided to create this border in photoshop. I drew ying yang signs, stars, and moons to add to the mystifying, cosmic theme. I think that this makes the project look more unique and interesting because it creates a lot of detail for the user to look at, without feeling overwhelmed. In addition, it helps clarify the interaction. It implies that there will be a “magical” interaction, like a crystal ball predicting the future, without explicitly saying what is going to happen.

I think that this project creates a magic circle because people can chose to use it in groups or individually. If used in a group, the users can ask questions together and see if it was what they had expected. If used individually, users can compare their answers with their friends or even people they don’t know. This forms more interactions between people and therefore, creates a magic circle.

I think that my project fits into de Waal’s ideology because it falls under the category of a “sensible city.” The design of this project is to provide people with answers to their yes/no questions. While it can be seen as something very straightforward, it can also be thought in a different way. I see this project also being able to fit into de Waal’s ideology of a “flaneur city.” This project has an element of mystery in it because the whole idea is based on the unknown. This aspect allows the users to see it as a fun experience that can be new every time.

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I’m happy with the way that it turned out because I think that it looks playful and interesting to the user. I’m really glad that I was able to achieve a design that accurately portrays the interaction because it makes it more enjoyable to use.

   

Post Mortem: Conference Project:: Black and White Euphoria

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For my final conference project, I designed a web cam that picks up motion detection. When the user moves, the black and white pattern on the screen will move too. This makes the design evolve further because the user keeps on changing it with their movement. Every minute, the pattern changes into a new one with different sized shapes with different levels of transparencies. This keeps the user more engaged because there are more surprises in how the pattern will change.

I was inspired by the artists Bridget Riley and Ryoji Ikeda because they both primarily work in black and white to create complex patterns and designs. I really admired their styles and I wanted to create a project that resembled their artwork. I think that I was able to accomplish that because I created ten different black and white patterns that are similar to their style.

Creating this project took a lot of planning and time because I had to create ten different patterns. I also got to play with it a lot and test it out. I found it really fun to play around with because it always surprised me. It doesn’t always have the same outcome because the user’s motions will be different every time. This shows that my conference project is abstract and will always be evolving into something new as each person uses it. I decided to have each shape move at different speeds. This added to the abstract element of the project because the pattern doesn’t move in uniform. This means that the user can’t anticipate when the pattern will shift or how it will shift.

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The code of my project involved a lot. First, I imported video into processing, so I could use motion detection through the webcam. Then, I created different variables for each shape within each different pattern. I had 90 variables in total. After that, I made a list of all ten patterns. Within each pattern, I had a section that specified the speed of each shape and how fast it moved, based on the motion detection. For example, I could say that a certain ellipse would move every three seconds, while a different ellipse would move every second. Following this code, was the list of shapes within the pattern. Under void draw(), I wrote the motion count and specified the order and duration of each pattern.

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After looking back at Martijn de Waal’s ideology, it is clear that my project falls into the category of a “playground/magic circle.” This interaction that I’ve created offers a site of play, is a voluntary activity, isn’t rational, and forms community. This means that it is more open ended to how people will use the interaction. The user can move in front of the webcam by themselves or with other people. This displays the potential to create a magic circle. If multiple users are in front of the camera at the same time, they can create a different pattern together. This could increase interaction between people because they may choose to work together. For example, they could try to move the shapes to one side of the screen or to hold still to see the pattern freeze. Since the project is very open ended, there are so many things people could try to do with it.

Overall, I had a lot of fun making this project because I really like the idea that it can evolve into something so different and abstract every time. I also really enjoyed deigning black and white patterns because I love the way that they look.

Project #2 Progress: Magic Ball

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For my second project, I’m making a “magic 8 ball” that predicts answers to the users’ yes/no questions. So far, the code that I’ve used incorporates a text selector. This allows the ball to generate random text when the user clicks on it. So every time they clicks on it, they will get a different answer than the previous time. This creates the effect that the ball is actually answering them because the generated answers aren’t consistent.

I plan to work on this project further by adding more details to the overall project. For example, I want to play around with different fonts and the design of the magic ball. I want the design to look captivating to the user. So far, I decided to have random colors flash on the ball. I think that this creates a mystifying aspect to predicting the future. I’m planning on evolving this design further by developing the base to make it look more realistic and adding more stars on the ball. In addition, I want to add more answers for the ball to give the user. I think that that would add more depth to the interactive aspect.

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I think that this project has the potential to create a magic circle because it can involve more than one person. People can ask questions in groups or compare answers to their similar questions. If in a group, people can think of questions they want to ask collectively. I think that this project’s function is a universal idea because it is based off of a magic 8 ball. Therefore, it will be able to bring people together because of its’ familiarity. Although this project has the potential to create a magic circle, this may not always be the case because it is primarily targeted towards individuals. For example, a person would ask the ball a question in their head and then click to find out the answer.

Wether used by individuals or groups of people, or even both, I hope that this project is fun for people to play with. People usually are intrigued by finding answers to the unknown, so I think that people would enjoy using this light hearted way to predict the future.

Project #2: Magic ball

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For my second project, I wanted to create something similar to a magic 8 ball. The user will ask it a yes/no question out loud or in their head. Then, they will click on the ball and it will answer them. The answers would be responses, like a magic 8 ball. For example, “don’t count on it” or “yes, definitely.” I think this will be fun to play with because people enjoy using a magic 8 ball. It is also very approachable for all ages.

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The design of this project includes creating a spin off of a magic 8 ball. I’m going to create something that looks like it predicts the future. The design will be different from a a magic 8 ball, but it will have the same function. The code I will use will include generating random answers from the text that I will provide. I will set it up so that every time the user clicks, it generates a different response. I think that this will be one of the main challenges I will have when creating my project because I know how to generate random things, but I’m not sure how to generate random things based on given inputs.

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This project fits into de Waal’s ideology because it falls under the category of a “sensible city.” The design of this project is to have the function of getting questions answered. Any person can go up to it, click the ball, and get an answer to their question. Although this project is a fun way to get answers to your questions, it obviously isn’t the most reliable. I think that it serves the function of being a resource, but at the same time, it also fits into another category. In addition, this project can fall into de Waal’s vision of a “flaneur city.” In the article written by de Waal, he notes that Paulos and Beckman wrote “We marvel at mundane everyday experiences and objects that evoke mystery, doubt, and uncertainty” (10). This project has an aspect of mystery because the whole idea is based on the unknown. This adds a fun element for the user because they don’t know what kind of answer they are going to receive to their question.

Conference Project Update

For my conference project, I planned on creating a black and white design that would change based on the user’s movement. So far, I have been able to create a sketch with motion detection. At first, I wasn’t sure how to accomplish this, so I created black and white shapes that moved in unison.

When moving in front of the camera, the design stayed intact and didn’t appear to be that interesting. After experimenting with this, I decided that I really wanted to create something more complicated and interactive for the user. I wanted the design to be even more distorted from its’ original state and keep on changing, based on the user’s movement.

After my conference meeting, I learned how to make each individual shape move on its own. Within the code, I have used 16 variables that indicate each shape to move at a different rate than the previous one. For example, one shape may move every second, while another moves every three seconds. 

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By making each shape independent from each other, it creates more confusion for the user because the design isn’t moving in unison. I think that this poses an interesting effect on the user because it creates the element of surprise. It’s hard to figure out how you can control all of the shapes at once because they keep on moving in different directions, at different rates. This creates new and unexpected patterns that the user can see. This aspect makes my conference project much more individualized because the sketch will appear different every time.

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So far for my project, I’ve only used circles. I plan to add different types of shapes that are different sizes. I’m glad that I tried using the same shapes over and over again so far because it has allowed me to understand how to program motion with many separate variables. Now that I have had practice with this, I feel better about adding more complicated shapes to create a unique pattern. I’m hoping that I can figure out how I want to create the initial design, so that it has the best effect on the user.

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Project #1: Horoscopes

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In this project, I created a simple way for people to read their horoscopes for the month of October. By clicking the screen, people will be able to see all of the horoscopes. They can click back and forth to see which horoscopes correspond with their signs. I decided to use very few words per sign because I think that this keeps the interaction simple. There isn’t an abundance of text to read, but just enough information to portray the theme of their horoscope for that month. I think that this is a fun interactive because it allows people to gain information efficiently. Whether people follow horoscopes or not, most will still find them entertaining to read.

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Originally I had planned to have the user be able to click on each individual sign and only see that horoscope. After working on the code, I found difficulty in achieving this. Despite this, I still think that it has the same effect on the user because it allows them to reveal the horoscopes themselves. This still engages them to an extent because it is their action that makes the text appear.

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The coding of this project incorporated mousePressed(), with layers of the black background and the text. I chose to use black and white because I think that it contributes to the simplicity of the message.

I see this project fitting into de Waal’s ideology of the “City of Strangers.” Horoscopes are universal in the sense that anyone regardless of gender, age, class, and many societal factors can relate to it. I think that this would bring people together because everyone has an astrological sign. When looking at the horoscopes, people could share their opinions with their friends or others who have the same sign. I see this supporting the idea of a magic circle because it can unify people based on having the same astrological signs. This can strike up a conversation between two strangers. I think that this helps reenforce common ground between people because everyone has a sign.

Conference Project Proposal: Control Your Illusion

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What are you making?

For my conference project, I will be making a passive webcam interactive. When first looking at the screen, the user will see a still black and white abstract pattern. This pattern will have many freeform shapes that will draw the viewer’s attention to the screen. Then, the camera will pick up the user’s movements and distort the image on the screen in accordance to the person’s movement. The abstract pattern that was first there will transform continually into new abstract patterns, as the person moves in front of the webcam. This allows the user to create their own patterns.

Why are you interested in making this interaction?

I’m interested in making this interaction because I think it is something new and different that will draw people’s attention. I think that it is a fun approach to using a webcam because instead of seeing an image of yourself, you’re seeing your movements reflected through an evolving pattern. This allows the user to have direct manipulation, but also allows the interaction to be open ended. In addition, I’m interested in making this interactive because I was inspired by Bridget Riley and Ryoji Ikeda. These two artists both use black and white shapes to create abstract and uniform patterns. I was really drawn to this style because I think that there is something so simplistic, yet captivating, about black and white art. Bridget Riley’s artwork consists of paintings that have ornate patterns and optical illusions. While her work is still, the illusions that she creates makes it appear to be moving. I thought that the effect that her art gives to the viewer was amazing because it makes people see more than just still shapes. Ryoji Ikeda’s work consists of more simplistic patterns, like thin stripes. His work is projected in a large room. The projector moves the patterns along the walls and floors, creating an impactful effect on the viewer. Both of these artists use black and white to give more definition to the shapes and patterns that they have created. I decided to combine both of the artists’ styles into my conference project because my project will include black and white abstract patterns and movement.

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How do you expect it to work in public space?

I expect my project to work in a public space because it has a low barrier of entry. This means that people will be more inclined to try it because there is no pressure as to what you are supposed to do with the interaction. People can act freely and use it how they wish. There is no right way to use the interaction; there are endless possibilities. I think that these type of interactions are the most fun because it allows people to be creative. This will enforce the idea of a magic circle because this design allows multiple people to be interacting with it. Since it is based on movement, there can be multiple people in front of the camera. This will bring people together because they can interact with this project at the same time to create a unique image on the screen. After reading Martijn de Waal’s article, it is clear that this idea fits into the category of a “playground/magic circle” because this interaction fosters a site of play, is a voluntary activity, isn’t rational, and forms community. Although this interaction fits into all of these aspects, it is not autotelic because there is no ending goal for the user. They can play with the interaction as long as they want to. Therefore, I think that Castells would like this idea because it displays a network. Castels believes that “the concept of network to symbolize a society that is increasingly de-centred, flexible and individualized” (Gane + Beer, 20). This project is definitely flexible because it is very open ended. The user(s) can make any motions they want to change the image on the screen. It can also be individualized, depending on how many users there are.

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Norman’s seven steps:

Forming the goal: The user will see the black and white pattern on the screen.

Forming the intention: The user will approach the screen and see that the patterns moves.

Specifying the action: The user will understand that the pattern’s movement is controlled  by their movements.

Executing the action: The user will then move themselves in front of the webcam and move in front of it.

Perceiving the state of the world: The user will change the pattern present on the screen.

Interpreting the state of the world: The user will understand that they have the power to make new art based on their physical movements.

Evaluating the outcome: From this experience, the user will see that they can create art in a new way.

Design:

I choose this for my design because I thought that a webcam interactive would have the least barrier of entry required. I think that these are the most enjoyable interactive because people are the most comfortable using them. Another option that I considered was to create a black and white abstract pattern that was controlled by the movement of the mouse, instead of the person’s movement. This idea would not involve  a webcam and would therefore have a greater barrier of entry. Although both ideas are passive, I decided to go with the webcam one because it allows people to be more creative with their movements. A track pad would limit the movements they could make.

Code:

Draw(); The black and white shapes will be programmed to follow the motion picked up by the webcam.

Setup(); The background will be the webcam.

Variables: I will use variables for some of the shapes that will be repeated.

Color: I will only be using black and white in my project because I think that it will have the most impactful experience on the user.

Interactivity: The pattern on the screen with change according to the user’s movements.