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Physical Computing: Fall 06

  • ENTRY ONE: 9/26/06 20:33
    • Just finished brainstorming and encoding my site. Thoughts on collective action/ social agitation seem to be something I want to explore.
  • ENTRY DEUCE: 10/11/06 9:25
    • I've spoken to Jason Zimba about my project: he reccomends abandoning the EMF sensor, as the readings have to be extremely minute and precise (AKA expensive) and instead reccomended that I get a cellular antenna. This was a few days ago; I'm not quite certain how I can integrate the antenna into my circuit. I cannabalized a cellular phone, which was broken, and I have bought a cheapo pay-by-minute one to do some experiments on/with.
  • ENTRY THRICE: 10/22-24/06
    • I am filled with unspeakable rage. I've been workshopping and crunching my sensor, as it is not working: it may be the wiring, or any of the individual parts. Asked Ryan Moran for help, and we dug further into the schematic, and still no avail. Perhaps it is the antenna? My thought is that the redundant part is the MOSFET switch, and may be giving me some trouble. Still working on it.

UPDATE: Worked for another 7 and a half hours on the damn circuit: still not sure where the problem is coming from.

  • ENTRY FORD: 11/1/06
    • Brainstoming has begun.
  • ENTRY FIVER: 11/8/06
    • Built the beginnings of the barrier's armeture. Additionally, I've started to prototype the harware to make the barrier descend/ascend. Purchased motors from Radioshack, though I wish I could make it work with a servo. I'll have to think carefully about what I can do. The helmet needs to be sanded down and prepared for the fabrication process.
  • ENTRY SIX: 12/4/06
    • Still no full rotation servos. This is not good. Helmet is 60% finished: Open Servo doesn't seem to be an option this late in the game.

Advanced Projects in Digital Art: Spring 07


WEEK ONE: Looked around the internet for motor parts and accessories; called some junk shops in Bennington to see if they had some entire differentials still. Though about going to the Hoosic warehouse to try and find some kind of gas powered motor that had a simple circuit (weedwacker?) Looked into the static-maintan copper braiding on AC motors (its on TV picture tube assemblys as well) and tried to not get electrocuted.
WEEK TWO: Got the RFID reader to work after some technical mishaps; wrote out the ID numbers on the tags for identification. Thought about making positive, semi-transparent modifications and changes to the Student Center environment - integrating some improvements for the peoples who spend the most time their. Hacked a Car 12V charger with my 3-12V Converter to run a Sirius Radio (car model) on the Bar, piggybacking off of the existing sound capabilities (mixer) of the space. I've thought alot about twisting the MTV Pimp My Ride to my purposes, creating Pimp My Snack Bar!!


  • Nearly Infinite space of the digital realm in contrast to printed materials: Scott McCloud with comics; My boyfriend came back from the war, ect. How can this be used?
  • Schizophrenics (sp?) and their theoretical lack of an ego: this abandonment/disrupted filter means there is nothing repressing the subconcious. This is seen as a positive form of censorship ( a concept that is largely reviled and bastardized.) This may act as a better adding point from my interest in denial and (Orwellian) double-think.



Unpacking some of the ideas touched on before, jumping off of Dunne and Raby's work with EMF, and Natalia Jeremijenko's Feral Dogs, I've thought alot about some kind of moving dispatch object that seeks to neutralize EMF.

Mobile Reclamaition Unit: a self-propelling device that would seek out the presence of EMF, locate the most potent source of the energy, and isolate the persistent force. Ideally, the object would have the ability to charge itself, be minimally energy hungry, and look as ridiculous as possible.
We're fed so much dogma on what is good and bad for us. On a small scale, we are told Multivitamins will make you big and strong, Don't eat red meat or smoke or walk outside with wet hair. On a grander scale, we're given all sorts of notions and ways to think through the media, governments, and even loved ones. In Dunne and Raby's work, this kind of paranioa played out well with the placebo EMF device, and in Jeremijenko's work, the actual presence of a danger was the best part of the custy feral dog. I find myself interested in the middle: a device that seeks out the presence of an existing force, that may or may not be bad or good, and attempts to take care of it for us.

What kind of force in particular are you thinking? Are you thinking EMF? First of all I wonder if there is some way you could approach this concept of reclamation of space without building an entire robot, because that seems like a gigantic task. I'm also curious as to how this device would let us know that it was "taking care of it". They way you described it last week sounded like you were thinking of having some sort of beacon that would be placed in a particular spot that the device would approach and then enclose. I wonder if this is the clearest way to convey your idea. Could you hack one of those roomba vacuum cleaners so that instead of searching for and sucking up dirt it would search for and suck up EMF? I don't know if you could... Maybe that would be an even more mondo task than building a robot. Just a thought. --Jfunston 11:23, 27 March 2007 (EDT)

In response to Jess:
Thanks for the comments and ideas! I've thought alot about what I am/should be doing, and I seem to have this hang up on actually builfing something: why am I not considering electronic media as an option? I've thought about what I can or cannot do in the physical realm, and working with Flash or frames or whatnot might be really helpful/useful.

A simple flowchart of idea germination


What defines "space?" This question has been in the tangible, the physical, for the initial brainstorming of my project: why not consider a visual interface as a "space" the way that we do when veiwing a picture? I think that we allready do; the metaphor can be easily carried over into the digital realm. Bringing the user into a space's scenario would be the crux of the project. Just like any other kind of object, the user can choose to either engage, or ignore the device, conferring some kind of resposibility to the "player." I'd like to push this relationship a bit further, perhaps not John Klima far, but futher than accessing the object as a resposability.
This ties into concepts and guilt and responsability: if the object requires constant attention, or activity within a certain space of time to preserve its program, then it places the mantle of culpability upon the passer by; the bystander. I think that the concept of the "Good German," or "Kitty Genovese Effect," (Cohen, Bar On, Hegi) is incredibly facinating. What better to reclaim than our social spaces? How exactly would this be done? I certainly don't think that Save Toby is the best example , but it certainly is an illustration of the point, albeit cruel.

Bar-On, D. Legacies of Silence
Cohen, S. States of Denial
Hegi, U. Tearing the Silence


Using the prior Ideas, I've decided on making an object that is intended to be a symbolic method of overcoming or violating the bystander effect: an ultimate reclaimation of social space. The device will search for a nearby presence, and then engage a program that seeks interaction. If the presence does not interact with the object for a certain ammount of time, it will begin to change its sound/visual profile to one that demands attention. If a fixed duration of time passes and there is still no interaction, the object will let everyone nearby know that the presence has failed to acknowledge it through a terrible scream.
I'm toying with the idea of a counter, displaying how many times the object has been saved, but I'm uncertain. I'm going to bring a more concrete drawing to class to talk about it today.


Critique last week has made me think alot about the concept and potential design of this project. I don't think my problem lies in the concept, but instead is nestled in the execution: I think that its coming off as "emotionally facist" because of my initial desire to cultivate a response that I wanted. For good or for bad it's still not something that needs to be impressed upon another: I would rather have a veiwer and user interact with my project and take something away from it, instead of being given a parcel that they were supposed to hold in high regard. So, I think that the nature of the presentation should be in the forefront of my focus. Perhaps a game would be a more suitable approach, or a narrative? Perhaps an interactive work: cultivating the concept of action and intervention by tempting a user to continue.
Tempting and temptation. This is a far better approach than telling/demanding a user how to feel. The word carries a fair ammount of spin, but I think its a deviation.
More later.
Later is now. I have a pretty deep interest in narratives that isn't coming across in the project so far. This has brought me in a good direction: I should involve more of my interests in the work that I'm doing and not let socialization be the only kind of information that motivates my work. I'd like to establish an interactive story (probably in flash) that used reclaimation as a theme rather than a crux. In this way, the work is only accessable to those that wish to engage with it. No more forcing.



On Beginnings

Books tend to be solitary experiences: one can read it to another, and another can read over your shoulder, but accessing the text directly is a one person gig. I see this as a paralell to people in certain kinds of spaces. Unpacking this idea, I want to take books and infuse them with the ability to require cooperation and interaction with others. In this way, interaction is the game itself.

Enter the Stranger

Albert Camus' The Stranger will be supplanted with technology to only be accessable when in the presence of it's sister copies, but to also "reward" the users when multiple copies are accessed in the same area. Teamwork is reinforced in a predominantly solo environment, AKA the Library, Health Services, The Rec Barn, ect.
The use of Camus' existentialist work, is of course, very tongue-and-cheek.

Heavy Tech

Each book will be sealed until activated. When 2 books are near one another, they will open. Additional conditions will occur when multiple copies are engaged.

The Nexus


A place that is normally one of ingress and egress that becomes a nexus for people and objects in conversation. The idea I had was for a device to become somewhere that isnt a point A or point B but instead a individual point on the line inbetween; creating a new A Prime destination. I'm thinking alot about some kind of device that requires multiple users to activate it; when activated, it rewards all those that are involved. Taking it further as a game, perhaps it is an object that distributes instructions (READ: not like Yoko Ono) and asks them to be fufilled. The instructions would all be in the same vein as the reclaimation of space: social and otherwise. Perhaps you are asked to plant a tree, to borrow a stranger's shoe, to eat a cheesebuger in VAPA's bathroom: the possibilities are endless. Endless and fun.


Instructions can be displayed rather than given: places less of an emphasis on the idea of a token economy or object that is drawn from the device rather than the acutal actions: I like the idea of being more emotional/cerebral than tangible/tactile. The display will show a randomized instruction from a list (needs to be collected and entered in) and will then remain blank until a user accesses it again.
Perhaps a signifigant timer will help dissuade users from attempting to get a "better" instruction? What kind of housing?
I know its very important that the user is the only person who can access the instruction, and that the device and its interface should be in a point of transition and travel.
What about a briefcase? Represents order and structure and command, but instead hijacked to create potentially disruptive nonharmonious interactions? A ticker coming out of a buisness paraphenalia seems too played out: I like the idea of video in a nonvideo object.
What kind of tech. could randomize the instructions if there was alot of them? MAX? I'll have to stew on this one.

C is for Cookie

Finished building the carapace for the cookie out of semi-flexible rebar. Wound up using about 200ft of wire to build the frame. Cannabalized a printer for parts, found a nifty stepper motor and DC setup. I'm working on a good way to have the fotunes be spewed out consistantly. Fabric shopping is tonight. I'm pretty confident I should be able to get this done.
Got some IR sensors today from BG; I'll be setting them up with a breadboard and the motor assembly to begin feildtesting the sensitivity.
Will have "in process" photos soon.