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.
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.
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.
My map defines the invisible process of the way in which natural light adds to the beauty and theatricality of specific buildings in New York City. I feel as though the sunlight that streams in through the windows of these architectural monuments adds to the beauty and warmth of the building itself, and ultimately leads to a type of performance put on by the interior of the structure. This “performance” makes the audience (or people within the structure) pay attention to the way in which the light hits various parts of the room, allowing better understanding or “absorption” of the architecture.
The viewer’s participation and individual reaction to the work deems the work itself as a theatrical performance meant to inspire reflection. There are specific factors that are applied to art and architecture (such as time and space in relation to weather, lighting, and season) that are regarded as essential to the display (or the performance) of the piece. The experience of the individual is what ultimately defines the work; an experience that is aroused by the way in which the room or building is displayed.
A lot of inspiration for this conference project comes from Tadao Ando’s Church of Light. This structure is one of the prime examples of the concept of theatricality in architecture and the difference between a structure’s era of “performance” versus the time in which environmental factors are not in favor of the building. The interior of the church is simple with very little ornament, and the major focus point of the structure (a large cross cut out of the wall that provides a source of light to the inside of the building) relates the interior directly to the exterior. In addition, essentially all of the visual documentation of this structure is taken at the point of the epiphany, and never when the interior is “void”; an act of censorship similar to the way in which artists can control the environment in which their work is displayed, unlike the real, functioning structure of the Church of Light in a current and continuous context.
In this project, I went to various locations in my neighborhood on the upper west side and took note of which direction the windows were facing. I went to the Apple Store (SE), my own apartment (SE and S), Lincoln Center Opera House (E), Church of St. Paul the Apostle (SW and NW), and Grand Central Terminal (W and SW). After going back to these places 2-3 times throughout the semester, I realized that there were certain directions (most prominently, Southwest) in which the sunlight was more consistently shown through the widow. This is where the surface of my map plays an important part; the yellow of the southwest corner represents the most sunlight while the opposite side of the “compass” (the Northeast corner) is gray and dark. Then, I took the pictures of the sunlight streaming through the windows and plotted them on the map’s surface in relation to the connection system: the compass.
Our initial discussions about what renders something “invisible” to society greatly influenced my thoughts the process behind figuring out this conference project. I feel as though the natural light coming in through a window is something that is so common that it is frequently overlooked, yet it still possesses a beauty that in the rare moments it is recognized, there are always feelings of warmth and pleasure associated with this experience. In this map I hope to bring this invisible process to light.
Throughout the semester, this project went through a series of revisions; all of which contributed to the final product. In the beginning, I focused solely on collecting data and studying the light that came into these buildings, contemplating direction, time of day, and height of the structures. After this stage of the process was complete, I discussed the ways in which I would plot these points, and what the surface of the map would be. Through trial and error, I established that the surface of the map would attempt to copy the “color” of light; as in, the way in which sunsets (one of the more vivid displays of light) have countless variations of color schemes. I took multiple pictures of sunsets and made many copies of the color gradients that were displayed in the photo.
One of the main complications that presented itself throughout this project was the fact that many of the buildings I studied in New York City are surrounded by other, taller structures. This meant that there were often times when sunlight should have been streaming in through windows in the building, but this warmth was being blocked by the rest of the towering city. Even on the sunny days I went to these buildings, they would often seem a lot darker in comparison to the sun’s actual force that day. (Side Note: While most of the buildings were mostly dark, if one went a few blocks away to the great lawn in Central Park, hoards of people were swarming for a spot in the sun).
A pleasant surprise while working on this project were the reactions (unprompted) of other people in the spaces I was studying. There were times (although infrequent) that people would stop for a second and bask in the warmth of the sunlight indoors, or purposefully stand in the patch of natural light on the ground. Without even realizing it, the few people that displayed this behavior confirmed my idea that this was something beautiful; something that could be mapped and discussed.
The concepts from the class that influenced this project the most were the discussions we had on what could be deemed “invisible” in this society. In addition, the discussion during the Psychogeography project about “site-specific” sculptures was incredibly relevant to my project in the sense that in the buildings I studied, environmental factors were directly related to the various data I collected.
My map defines the invisible process of the way in which natural light adds to the beauty and theatricality of specific buildings in New York City. I feel as though sunlight that streams in through the windows of these architectural monuments adds to the beauty and warmth of the building itself, and ultimately leads to a type of performance put on by the interior of the structure. This “performance” leads to the audience (or people within the structure) paying attention to the way in which the light hits various parts of the room, allowing better understanding and absorption of the architecture.
Our initial discussions about what renders something “invisible” to society greatly influenced my thoughts the process behind figuring out this conference project. I feel as though light is something that is so common that it is frequently overlooked, yet it still possesses a beauty that in the rare moments it is recognized, there are always feelings of warmth and pleasure associated with this experience. In this map I hope to bring this invisible process to light and make this beauty available to be viewed consistently rather than in the brief moments of time when natural light is visible indoors.
The vague areas of this piece are the how I will plot each building on the compass. I intend to pick a direction (south-west, as this tends to be the side of the building that gets the most sunlight, without acknowledging in the vast amount of factors that alter this statement such as floor level or proximity to other buildings) and place the most color in the surface in this part of the map, making these places/points deemed more “beautiful”.
By choosing to map this process on photoshop, I will be able to attempt to copy the various color gradients of natural light through the multiple functions on paint. Additionally, the text and the straight lines of the compass will be done entirely on photoshop, making the map neater and allowing the pictures stand out against the soft background of the surface.
Artist Reference: Original maps and cartographers
I began thinking about my conference project inspired by a couple of different psychogeographic and map inspired projects. I found the idea of ‘mental travel’ that Merlin Coverley wrote about in Psychogeography incredibly compelling, and I identified it with a lot of my own experiences of daydreaming about distant (or nearby) places. Additionally, over spring break I found the book Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky in a book store over spring break. The subtitle of this book is “Fifty Islands I have not visited and never will,” and in the introduction Shalansky writes about her experience of mental travel through looking at atlases as a child growing up in East Berlin, a place she could not travel beyond.The night before I found the book, I was aimlessly looking through Google Maps when I located a series of islands I had never heard of before called the Faroe Islands. I was surprised to know that 50,000 people lived there, and I clicked through the photographs of the towns there and tried to imagining what life would be like if I had grown up there. This is where the full idea for my conference project came from.
When school started up again, I began to explore different parts of America on Google Map street view. I was drawn to the most rural places, because I grew up in a city and have minimal exposure to living in rural America. Also, often when traveling (at least in my family), we tend to visit cities, both familiar cities where family lives like Los Angeles and Denver, as well as cities we have not seen before. In my writing class, we were talking once about the experience of driving through rural, almost empty areas of the country and trying to imagine what kind of person lives in the houses you pass by. As I looked through Google Maps and chose specific locations to zoom in on, I kept this framework of trying to imagine the lives that inhabit these locations in mind. I selected which specific roads/towns to zoom in on based on whether the street or town names appealed to me.
My map will depict aspects of American life that do not appear on maps but that mark the memories and locations of experiences in peoples’ memories. For example, a field where a child found a four leaf clover, or a road where a car accident occurred, or a place where a teenager smokes their first cigarette…these types of milestones do not show up on the terrain or maps of America, but they are very much a part of growing up in the specific spaces. The inspiration for the “invisible” aspect of my map comes from anthropologist Kathleen Stewart’s Ordinary Affects, an ethnography of American life that she depicts through non-fictional vignettes of the ‘ordinary’. I hope to map ordinary affects in my conference project. I am still decided how exactly to present this concept. I began with collage of rectangular pictures shown in the second image of this post and intended to make a 40 by 40″ map in that style. On top of the ‘surface’ (the screenshots of different street views), I would write in sharpie the ordinary event that occurred there which would be the sign system.
I’m not sure what the connection system would be in this map. When I brought my digital sketch to conference, Una and I discussed ways that I could use the map to combat competing discourses that define American life. We thought of using a chart of the stock market crash as a “surface” containing holes which reveal the screenshot images I took and the sign system details that explain the ordinary events that occurred in the spaces.
The issue now is that the draft I have is rectangular and therefore not 40 by 40, and I can’t use as many images as I hoped to. I also want to make sure it is read as a map.