Alaska Prototopia

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Rebecca's Notes on Prototopia for Adv Projects in Digital Arts

Reactive_Fashion - The Main Hub For This Project (see for Prototopia links) Rebecca's_RF_Notes - Links 'n' Stuff

Some Thoughts and Brain-Dump

Angela has been doing a much better job at keeping up with the prototopia news as it happens, over at Angela_Advanced_Projects. I wish I had started these notes with a better idea of the structure I'd be using, but I suppose I can always go back through and clean everything up after the projects are done. In the meantime, I guess I'll just be adding things as I remember/see fit. My goal is to keep this decently updated with my ideas for projects so that I can receive feedback through the wiki.

21 March 2007 In Class

Thanks, everybody for the feedback! I'll try to digest and respond here tomorrow (hopefully).

Notes from Blatherings 07 March 07

Angela took notes as I exposited on my ideas:

“clothing as the extension of the individual”

wearer – express ourselves – above and beyond what you are wearing, who you are/about you versus just aesthetics

keeping you company, relationship with clothing/yourself through clothing. exploring yourself, choices. changing your mind, instant choices – chameleon, changing to adjust to situations moment by moment

intermediary between environment and wearer. communication. transfer of information between wearer and world vice versa.

fun, enjoyment the user(s) feel. doesn’t need to be deep, but a sense of excitement/fun/interest. wanting to wear/interact/use engage it. games, bouncing back, feedback/fulfillment, continuous, reinforcement, REPLAY VALUE

a friend with a shirt that looks really great, every time you see it its always cool, keeps being great...

keeps an interest beyond initial novelty, being useful, repeatable.

one-on-anyone doesn’t matter who it is, doesn’t have to be specific person you are interacting with.

talked about stereotypes/cliches

I like what you are thinking about in relation to the "fun" of clothing, but also the reality that clothes communicate in and of themselves. I am really interested in your "one-on-anyone" idea and would also encourage thinking about one-on-many.
Robert_Ransick 15:17, 11 March 2007 (EDT)

To sum up some ideas: the things that interest me have to do with the user - ANY user, not intended for a specific person/subset - interacting either directly with the things they wear, or using their clothing as a "middle man" in their communication with the outside world. My hope is to avoid the one trick pony stigma, to have something that will can be set aside and come back to and still be engaging. Ideally, this "replay value" will be an automatic side effect of wanting to interact with the world / having a new experience every time.

Final Project Proposals (4 April 07)

Monster Bag / Bus Stop Secrets

A shoulder bag designed to look like some sort of small creature*. The strap has two easily accessable buttons: Record and Playback. These buttons can be used at any time to active a recording module inside the monster. This allows the user to choose to "pick up" overheard/experianced conversations, and share them later. But, this is not a passive monster. This little guy wants attention. He wants to be involved. He wants to gossip. Unfortunately, he only knows what he overhears. So sometimes he'll chime in, out of the blue, to play back a snippit for you - and anybody else who might be within range. He just wants love, he doesn't care what happens to you after his outburst. Maybe you'll make a new friend who thinks it's cool. Maybe you'll be shunned and avoided. Maybe you'll make somebody laugh, maybe you'll offend them. Is it your fault? Is it the monster's? Is it the fault of the original speaker? Who takes responsibility for these pieces of overheard information?

Things to think about: could the Monster pick up "secrets" through the internet, via a wiki page? Is that important, or would it just add to the interest/richness/interactivity? Would he still be able to pick and choose what to "hear" from the Wiki?

I like the idea of creating several of these bags, identical in function but with different design / different personality (that is, perhaps one can be shut up by zipping its mouth shut, one will talk incessently, one loves to play only clips of the recording, etc). There would be no computing interaction between the two: to exchange information they would have to talk to each other, just as they talk to the human users who carry them around.

Also, UglyDolls! I originally thought about using a plush fur that I have sitting around for the "skins", but I rather like the idea of using felt (like Bloaty), obvious top-stitching, friendly, homemade feel. This might make them appropriately "cute".

Here's that fabric site I was telling you about just now... Denver Fabrics - Jess

Push Your Buttons

A jacket with three large, inviting buttons on the back and lights up and down the sleeves/body. A participant walks up behind the user and decides to see what happens when they press the buttons, only to discover that one changes the colour (red, yellow, green), one changes the pattern (up and down, back and forth, around and around) and one changes the way in which they flash (quickly, pulsing, random intervals).

The wearer is helpless to the demands of the person behind them. This could result in mutual satisfaction: the participant and the wearer work together to achieve a pattern that both find satisfying. Onm the other hand, maybe the participant decides that they want a quickly flashing chase pattern of red lights, annoying the wearer, who has great difficulty in changing the light sequence.

Like the bag, I enjoy the idea that this could cause either a mutual enjoyment and bonding through this object, or it could create awkward and irritating scenerios in which one or all people involved feel uncomfortable and annoyed. It all depends on the people involved, their attitude at the moment of the interaction and the enviroment that they are in. It would also draw in others, and hopefully invite them to participate as well -- maybe additional effect could be achieved with multiple people inputting.

Questions: How much control should the wearer have? Can they turn it on and off (zipper)? Do they have override capability? How long does the effect last - indefinately or only for a certain amount of time? For x duration, unless y?

Project Ideas (11 March 07)

Firmer / More Defined Ideas

1. Playful Interaction Jacket
Everybody has probably seen games like [AllOut] or whatever you want to call it. Basically, the idea is that each button causes different lights to turn on and off, and you have to find the proper combo to get them all to the same state. This jacket project takes those elements and combines them with common clothing interactions, as well as awareness of self, others, environment.

The jacket would have six patches, three on each arm. Each patch would be a thin material with LED(s) behind it, to create a glowing square. These patches are how you monitor your actions. There would also be a resistive zipper set-up, several pockets with press switches and perhaps some touch panels on the arms or hips - this is how you would trigger the lights. Each time you perform a fidgety type action such as playing with your zipper (up & down), patting/putting hands in your pockets, rubbing your arms, hands on the hips, etc. the pattern created by the lit squares changes.

There are several uses for this jacket:

  • Having fun! Just messing with the various elements and turning things on and off.
  • Playing a game. Achieving goals: attempting to turn all lights on/off, create a pattern.
  • Being aware of self. The lights draw attention to your actions. Imagine being in a movie theater or concert hall: having this feedback might reinforce your desire to stop fidgeting / acting nervously.
  • Interacting with others. If somebody else has a similar jacket, the natural tendency to mimic another's actions would be obvious. It could also become a two-person game: race to match the others' pattern, or see who can turn them all on first.

In these ways, the jacket would have a variety of applications which would always keep it "fresh" and enjoyable.

Moondog 19:20, 18 March 2007 (EDT) I bought a jacket at Salvation Army - simple, metal zipper, couple simple pockets. Will be great for prototyping on, if not for the final. Angela is letting me play with her already-constructed zipper sensors, and hopefully I'll just set those up and get a better idea of how to use them. Still working through some ideas expressed in class re: Twister, bringing in others to interact, etc. Need to do more sketching and searching about what this will end up as.

2. Bus Stop Secrets Bag After experiencing the joys of 4 daily bus rides through Hollywood, I became fascinated by the idea of interacting with strangers. I found myself giving out random information that I might not ever reveal to a strange, just because I need something to say. Not like my phone number or address, but irrelevant info about my family, upbringing, etc. So what if I created something that spoke your secrets to others? Maybe more personal secrets?

In a brainstorm with Angela, one iteration we came up with is a bag that taps into some source of "public secrets" (more on that in a sec) and announces them, likely in the SpeakJet voice. It would either be triggered by proximity or by a pressure switch (only activated when the bag is set down - at a bus stop, store, cafe, etc). This is a weird combination of the personal, intimate and closed versus the loud, mechanical and public. I would love to "steal" these secrets from something like []. This blurs the idea of "ownership" of these shameful confessions. It also makes them public in a physical (as opposed to digital) realm. Words have power, and we all know that incantations have to be read aloud to work: speaking a secret is somebody so much more immediate and damning that writing it. It doesn't last as long, but it's a more active process, bringing the secret back to life.

The idea of this mechanical voice speaking (perhaps with poor pronunciation) these sentences would probably garner a lot of looks from people. What would they think? Would they judge the owner of the bag, as if these secrets belonged to them? Would they pretend to ignore the sounds? Instead of aiding in a pleasant, fun interaction between two people, it would cause both intimacy and barrier, setting in motion a unique and strange dynamic.

Note to Self: Other text-based online confessionals: Not Proud -- No longer updated. Old secrets, digging up the past, airing dirty laundry, etc. True Wife Confessions -- V specific. Not really what I want.

I really like the idea of using a wiki page here at Bennington (kind of like the Overheard page) to confess, so that it could be heard OR read publically. Also, it would allow people to change others' secrets: another element of non- or collecctive-ownership of information. IP tracking wouldn't be a problem, would it? As everybody using it would likely be routed through the Bennington servers anyway.

Misc / Less Developed Ideas

  • Crotch Cam: when you shake hands / approach people, a belt-buckle camera takes a photo of their crotch, maybe projecting video of the crotches? Secretive, personal peeking at people.
  • High-Five Gloves: create a glove (to be used alone, in pairs, with others, etc) with sensors in various pressure points. When the users perform secret handshakes, high-fives, clapping games, etc (picking up objects? typing?) a musical arrangement plays, based on which sensors are triggered/length of time/etc.
  • "The Kerosky": Named after my friend from high school who dances on a street corner every Friday. The more movement (sensed with flexors, accelerometers, ?) while wearing the garment, the louder/more varied/more interested the music becomes. Either music created by the specific motions, or hacking an MP3 player to change speed/song/volume/etc. Some way to sense if others around you join in??
  • Stealing Hearts: Hearts/heartbeats are way over done, so this may already exist. Heart-shaped pieces of felt with conductive fabric sewn in random locations are passed out to everybody at the exhibit/gathering/event/whatever it is. They are asked to pin these to their chest, somewhere over their heart. Somebody (or take turns) wearing a jacket/torso garment. The wearer must go around and hug people. The garment has conductive patches around the right side of the chest. Depending on how the jacket and the heart pins match up, different output occurs. Perhaps it spits out a fortune on your love life? Blinks warning lights? Plays a beautiful love song or a horrible screeching noise?
  • Wallflower vs. Spolight: Two identical garments with opposite functions. The Wallflower senses proximity and as people get closer it becomes less noticeable: hemline lowers, lights dim, sounds go down, thermo chromatic patterns disappear, etc. On the other hand, as people approach the Spotlight, it becomes more and more attention getting. Perhaps it goes wild if there are flashes of lights (cameras)? Maybe it's one garment that changes its from Wallflower to Spotlight based on ...? Fickle.
  • Random Things: I'd love to be able to do POV with heated wires and thermo ink, like those old neon signs! Also, temp sensing sleeves for something?
  • Stuffed Mushroom Cloud: Because now I'm obsessed (blame them). What would it do? Dunno. I like the idea of some sort of big installation (not this term!) that involves people bringing items to a Doomsday Clock - some items or news clippings or whatever will set the clock back, some will push it forward (originally set at 5, the new Minutes to Midnight). It ticks down in real time, and when it reaches zero ... the stuffed mushrooms spew stuffing everywhere? I have no idea. Maybe a simpler version: every five minutes the stuffed cloud lights up and makes ground-zero noises? (The holiday version can play Weird Al's "Christmas at Ground Zero" when squeezed!). I just want to make a plush cloud, that's what this comes down to.

28 March 07

I'm planning on doing the interactive jacket for the show. It will be controlled by the wearer and have buttons on the back that change it. There will be lovely light panels.

Problem: I tried to hook up my Arduino to strart prototype coding tonight, and it WOULD NOT WORK. At all. I checked the COM ports, tried replugging it, unhooked it from the breadboard - it kept giving me errors. So I'm going to go home and defrag and restart and see if it works after I clean up my computer a bit. Here's hopin'.

Ideas for Incorporating Motors into Reactive Fashion

Here's Some Video/Photo Evidence of the motor folly: Reactive_Fashion_Prototopia_1

  • One obvious use is like in Hussein Chalayan's Spring/Summer 2007 collection - using a motor to raise/lower fabric. This is something I've been thinking about for a little while, but Chalayan pulled it off in a way I never considered. What I really love about his use of movement is the sudden appearance of things like reflective (solar?) panels and the "release" of beaded trim. The beauty of this is that it has the potential to completely change the silhouette/coverage/message of the garment. It is also a very clear and recognizable way for somebody watching to see that, yes, something has affected something else and here is the payoff.

  • Related is the idea of using a motor as a winch to pull things taut (like Robert's spike comment or J. Meejin Yoon’s Defensible Dress). Angela at one point mentioned that she'd wanted to do something with wings in the past, and I've thought about the possibility of using a winch to raise/lower/reveal/etc a set of wings. Rather unlike Yoon's, I suppose that would be flight rather than flight. This is more visually appealing than any other reason I can think of at the moment. There's a nature element, which is always good, but mostly it's just awesome. (related: Wearable Warnings, though it's through static, rather than motors.)

  • So, vibrating motor. Never did I think I would be looking for proof of vibrating underwear for school. Heh. But, it exists (you can also buy vibrating tongue studs). So what - other than the obvious - could I use a vibrating motor for? Vibes are also used for massage, message alert.... A very light-weight fabric would probably flutter very nicely if attached to a vibrating motor. So what would that be used for? Besides looking floaty and cool. It would probably look like one of those cover shoots, with the rippling dress and blowing hair.

  • Other idea: I just remembered a project I did in high school that involved brainstorming ideas for various handicaps, and one of mine was a pulsing armband setup that interprets music for the deaf from an audio to a tactile experience (I've heard many stories about deaf kids who buy high-class woofers so they can feel the bass -- apparently there are also deaf raves!). It could either use an MP3 player for input, or ambient noises. Sound is already vibration, so why not? Could be applied to an entire garment, too.

  • Vibrating GPS Belt -- Brainstorming with Angela on Friday night (yeah, we're geeks) I was thinking about this project and it made me think about some sort of random-generated instructions for a walking experience, maybe using motors and spoken directions (w/ my SpeakJet chip) and lights?

  • Fans! Fans blow air, move things. Kiri's balloon dress last year made good use of helium and floating fabric. Hovercraft dress?! Little much. But a Marilyn Monroe-ish dress that fluttered up around you would be interesting. Though that would necessitate motors mounted lower on the body. Reactionary clothing is inherently pretty show-offish, there's no getting around that, so making you into a movie star/sexual object/center of attention is pretty logical. As mentioned above, it's rather photo-shoot like. Mount another fan to blow your hair around while you pose? Hahaha.

  • It would be pretty amazing to have a fountain dress, although quite messy. And it would require tubing and pressure. Not really a reasonable goal. A fan fountain, perhaps? Bits and strips of fabric that act in the place of water jets, floating up and down. (Animal parallel again: jellyfish tentacles.) I imagine a forth of July show with the 1812 playing as the dress almost literally explodes around the wearer. That would be a sight, for sure.

  • Random idea from the other night: flex sensors in the armpits of a superhero costume, so that when the arms are extended in front of the body, fans begin to blow the cape, as if soaring through the wild blue yonder. Ta-da!

if you make it, i'll wear it! Robert_Ransick 17:56, 5 March 2007 (EST)