Project 4 – Public Intervention

For this project, I collaborated with Shaan and Jason. Using Union Square as both topic and setting, we created a crowd source movie that expressed the hopes and wishes of its occupants in improvement of the space.

Inspired by Dr. Seuss’ gift for expressing serious issues through bazar imaginative tales, we borrowed from the structure rhyme style of his book If I Ran the Zoo in creating our own original script – If I Ran the Park. Through interviews with regulars from Union Square, we were able to crowd source content for the script that adhered to the realities of the park.

Here are some of the more interesting replies to our questions:

Interview Example 01:

Interview Example 02:

Interview Example 03:

Interview Example 04:

We camped out at Union Square for a week to collect enough volunteers to participate in our “movie”. Each participant was asked to read four lines of script before a stabilized camera set in front of the steps of Union Square. We then chose one line from each participant and pieced the “auditions” together into our final movie.

Our project description, script, movie and auditions were then posted onto a wordpress blog we set up:

Besides interviews, we also were able to capture footage of everyday activities and happens on Union Square. Our frequent appearance made us regulars as well, people began to recognize us and would sometimes come by to say hi or look out for us. Occasionally, people even helped us campaign our “cause”. We also became familiar with the regulars, and are able to identify their individual personalities and behaviors. So, I plan to create a short documentary about the social dynamics of Union Square in accompany of our final. This documentary is still in progress.

This was my first public project, the experience was very eye-opening, I would be interested in working on further projects of this nature.

Final Project

For my final project, I chose to create a drawing machine that reacted to subtle changes in its environment and documents these changes in an uncorrelated way.

Presentation here.

Video Demo of latest prototype can be seen here:

Prototype 03:

Prototype 04:

Stepper Front:

Stepper Back:

Sensor: (The current prototype has 4 temp sensors within the machine)

Interior – Prototype 05




Drawing Material:

Prototype 05 – A:

Prototype 05 – B:

Event 3 – ScrapYard Challenge

I didn’t have time to scavenge junk for Scrapyard Challenge, luckily, I was able to pick up a used umbrella while walking to the subway station, and that was what we used.

We drew inspiration from the mechanics of the music box, where the music played is pre-printed onto a cylinder plate in the form of pins. We created a pattern using tin foil, which acts as the music sheet. The pattern is circular, with multiple rings, each ring separate from the others with breaks of black tape in them. This was designed according to the possible movements of the umbrella. By pulling the umbrella up and down, the “claws” expand, respectively touching each circle and playing different tones. By spinning the umbrella, due to the breaks, beats can be created.

I’d never made anything like this before, and I was not sure if the idea would work. Fortunately, things turned out, and we were able to make “sounds” quite affectively. You can view a video documentation of our working instrument here.

Event 2 – Maker Faire

For Maker Faire, I volunteered to help out at Joel’s and Yuri’s booth. Because of that, I didn’t get to fully see everything that was displayed. From what I did see, I was mostly disappointed. I had expected a gathering of savvy non-mainstream hobbiests with crazy, experimental projects, not a combination of commercially driven corporate displays and supposedly cool carnivalesque machines. There was a walking chair that was kind of funky, a Stifteo game that was somewhat interesting. I was especially not impressed by the much talked about “fire-breathing dragon”. A better example of large scale sculpture made of found/used material is Xu Bing’s Phoenix Project, where there is more content and the design is more refined.

However, the experience was not all negative. Working at the Maker Shaft, I got to see a lot of people, especially youngsters, who are becoming increasingly interested in DIY electronics and programming. The Shaft sold toys directed towards children in elementary school, that would introduce them to basic electronics and circuit design, these packaged boxes contained as many as 100 different projects. Also, many that came up to our pulse sensor (for those interested in PComp, Joel’s pulse sensor might be a fun addition to your toolkit) booth were hobbiests who hacked hardware and software during their free time. One of the visitors at the booth was a middle school teacher who taught Arduino in his class. It’s exciting to imagine what kids who are exposed to electronics and code at such an young age might come up with by the time they mature.

Motion Detector and Slider:

Pulse Sensor



Event 1 – Whitney Museum & MoMA

Whitney Museum – Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools

The pieces displayed in the Pro Tools show are significant in the way that they are historical and should be seen in a historical context. Set history aside, I personally did not find the pieces that intriguing. The main reason for this is these pieces mainly investigate the use of then innovative tools, but media theory and discussion have evolved so much since the 70s that mere discussion of early tools really is not all that interesting anymore. For me, the way tools shape perception, thought process and culture, and projections of future developments are more stimulating topics.

MoMA – Talk to Me

The Talk to Me show at the MoMA in general was not as interesting as I’d hoped it would be. However, there were three pieces I found inspiring:

Hi, a Real Human Interface is a clever interpretation of computer data processing and task management. It was thought provocative in the way that it bridged a connection between man and machine, humanizing one and objectifying the other, and in doing so, equating the two. The video display in the Talk to Me show was probably not the way to exhibit the piece. I later found out that the piece was actually a live interactive project where you can directly interact with the screen displaying the video, and change the activity of the performer.

Hungry Hungry Eat Head has all the qualities of a well done public intervention, it’s light, fun, extremely participatory, and alters public behavior to a great extent. The technique of using QR codes for object detection is new to me and I’d like to learn more of how it is done.

Dead Drops was my favorite of all the pieces, I find it the strongest project. When I saw it, the first thing that popped up into my head was: alternative social network. I think if you think about it that way, it then becomes extremely interesting in the fact that it proposes a very unique and original way of communication, and the simplicity of the project only makes it stronger.

Project 2 – 7 & 7

The week I did my 7 & 7 projects was the week I had the most diverse experiences since my arrival. The city encompassed so many contradictions that it seemed almost fictional. I had lived in the States previously, but NY was something else. For over a month, I had been waiting for the realization of “I’m in America” to hit, but that never came (and I’m still waiting to this day), this was in no way like the US of my past experiences.

My 7 & 7 projects are starting ideas that attempt to document/express my experiences and reflections within this surreal environment.


Day 1

For my first project, I documented my process in building a bookcase. This was the last chapter of my home setup. Due to my lack of experience in building furniture (much like my lack of experience in living and studying here), the whole process was very much like my experience in NY and at Parsons, the reality resembled the manuscript, but not in the way you imagined. There were often unexpected differences and difficult situations. I printed out my picture documentations, and juxtaposed them next to the images in the manuscript with notes to display the deviation.


Day 2

I went to Fashion Night Out to observe the beautiful and glamorous. There were all sorts of crazy elaborate things happing all over the place. Soho was one of the hot spots with live models in shop windows, designers creating fashion-wear for customers on the spot, free cocktails stands and walls plastered with dollar bills. It was exciting, but also disturbingly superficial and wasteful. The whole night was a portrayal of a commercialized, appearance – oriented lifestyle, that for that one night only, allowed want-to-be participants, who on regular days would not be allowed in (and ironically were still not allowed into the more exclusive parties and gatherings), to take part in the illusion.

For my project, I documented outfits of people on the street and superimposed lyrics of pop songs that illustrated said lifestyle onto the image, suffocating the characters in text.

Day 3

In my Set Pixel class, we were given a code that allowed us to merge multiple images into one by means of averaging. I composited two images, one of portraits of me taken while I was living in the United States, and one while I was in China. As can be seen now, the time I spend in the States was mostly childhood, while adolescent years were mainly in China. I plan to continue adding images to the result. Presumably, as my travel patterns become more dense, diverse and evenly distributed, the images of me in each place will become increasingly interesting.

Day 4

The neighborhood I live in is very different from what I’ve been used to, and it’s interesting because it consists of elements that I find extremely contradicting. Throughout the week, there there have people shooting guns in the street, ice cream trucks driving around, children running and playing on the playground at the nearby school, numerous policemen patrolling the cross street and setting up scanning stands in the subway, Jews coming into the area to manage their real estate … I attempted to make a photo collage by putting all events and elements into one environmental image, but unfortunately the prototype was unsuccessful.

I think one of the problems I had was making using online images instead of actual documentation, which weakened the effect. A direction for future iterations can be a timelapse of selected images taken from a single camera that was set in one place that periodically took snapshots of the street. Multiple angles of different parts of the area can be documented in this way. The end result would be a collection of photographs.

Day 5

I was really interested in the topic I chose for day 4, and I wanted to do another iteration of it with sound, so I made a sound montage of different elements for day 5.

Day 5

Due to unprofessional recording equipment and lack of time, the current version is far from ideal. However, I plan continue with this idea and document sound from the area. I am thinking of combining Day 4 and Day 5 projects in future.

Day 6

When I first moved to the NY, I was completely out of my comfort zone, it was extremely hard to be myself, I felt the city was shaping the way I behaved and communicated in ways I could not control. But as weeks passed, I began to reclaim my personality and identity. For day 6, I combined the map of Manhattan with my own portrait, and through a series of images, displayed the process of my own face emerging form the behind the city map.

Day 7

On the last day of the week, I began my first job (non-school work) ever in America. I served as translator for the National Committee for 2 lunches on the 13th and 14th of Sept. The job opened up to me another social side of New York City : the powerful, the wealthy and the well educated. People talked about yacht clubs and mansions, of having 4 chefs and private helicopters, of lunches with princes and dinners with ambassadors (I’m guessing these would be the 1%). Although I documented some of the happenings during the two days, I am not authorized to use the material in any way. So I can only post a picture of the lunch menu below.




Reading 1

Natural Interfaces are not Natural, Don Norman

I had begun noticing what Norman would consider NUIs when the Nintendo Wii first came out, the experience was quite different from what I thought human/machine interactions would be. But it wasn’t until the appearance of the XBOX 360 that I started thinking about the new possibilities that these new interfaces were presenting.

At the time, I was still in my undergraduate program (animation) and was thinking about creating an interactive performance space that could generate graphics and sound (only to find out later that many have “been there, done that”). Because I wanted to focus on the therapeutic and meditative aspect of body motion and abstract audiovisual experience, I didn’t want to use the cumbersome motion capture suits that were introduced to us in class. My other option was using a camera capture set up which was very expensive and inaccurate if you wanted to do more detailed movements of joints, or group capture where overlap may occur. The interaction that the XBOX 360 advanced confirmed that such technologies were becoming more and more accessible, affordable and powerful. But due to my limited knowledge and understanding of the emerging technologies, it was hard for me to envision the design process and further realize my idea.

This article is interesting in the way that it emphasizes the complex thought process behind each seemingly natural interface (musical instruments, GUIs, etc.) that we have become so accustomed to. For me, the design process becomes more tangible, and I begin to have a sense of areas I can start looking into for further understanding.

I am hoping to read more about the conceptual and design process of NUIs, GUIs and musical instruments (the mechanics of musical instruments can be so fascinating and creative).

Great Wall of Facebook- The Social Network’s Plan to Dominate the Internet — and Keep Google Out, Fred Vogelstein

The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You, Eli Pariser

Last weekend I picked up a copy of Eli Pariser’s The Filter Bubble. Although there’s been critique on the book’s view of the personalization of social network and social media sites (one reader placed Pariser in the same “Internet pessimists” category along with authors like Jaron Lanier, Andrew Keen, Lee Siegel, and Nicholas Carr.), I still found the author’s point of view interesting and worth considering.

Since the beginning of its existence, the Internet has always been seen as a platform of new possibilities and opportunities. But with the increasing use of personalized systems online, the extent of our cyber vision becomes questionable. Are we really in control of what information we take in? Are we really presented with more choices? or are we instead put into little niches that the algorithm has constructed for us? Personalization seems to emphasize the individual and his or her unique characteristics, but at the same time, does it turn us into cliche’s?

Your Art Not a Gadget, Jaron Lanier

“I want to say: You have to be somebody, before you can share yourself.”

This was my favorite quote from the section.