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.