Archive for September, 2011

NYC challenge

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

This is our second external challenge and while we are not committed to implement it, I would encourage us to think in a “could do this” way. Just to keep the options open.
Let’s break this one down a bit:
This challenge is about the translation of gesture into some other form. Such a “translation” happens on the media level (e.g. into sound, text, sculpture etc.) as well as the cultural level (as it enters new settings and conditions).
The particular cultural condition for us is: an Iranian woman is not allowed to dance in her homeland. Her dances in public spaces in NYC are dealing with this, but cannot really answer the underlying cause, because of the forced distance and the fact that she cannot get back. Thus, the task is to find a way to translate movements (and we should think beyond the dance we saw) into another form – ship this form to Teheran – and install it at a public space there.
This would be a one-way directed performance – and the first and primary target. However, the bonus round is to think about how local Iranian artists could react and collaborate with this dance on the basis of our transformation.
Another element to keep in mind are the conditions in Iran, the danger of any public performance and the security of anybody involved in such a piece (whether it is this subway or the plaza).

To add some notes from Michael: there are a number of massive challenges that hover under the surface of this challenge: e.g. transformation of time and place and context – all this in a cultural context we cannot fully grasp. Let’s focus on the particular set up with our client and not let’s not get overburdened by the big shift between these two worlds.

Second note: as we will have to communicate this back via Skype: be as visual and tactile and cinematic and dramatic and expressive … as possible in your concept presentation next week.

Insect Stories

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Stop the humanoid solipsism. Join the world of the creatures:

Digital Mirror Parade

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

For the design challenge for the Atlanta School, I propose a performance project involving hauling a kinect down a historical path to map the space and change it:

Vertical Segregation

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

We divide groups of people in many different manners, I propose a new one:

Mark Your Territory

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Lots of initial design went into this project and the first parts are described a bit below, and can maybe be chatted about more later.

The current design of the physical system is detailed in this PDF:


The first step was to prototype the purely physical stage of the product. This means prototyping and designing a marker with several intersecting qualities related to taking ownership of a particular locale. The key features that I initially needed to design for come down to the following:

1) Visibility – Bright, eye catching, indicative of a user’s goals and actions.
2) Resilience – especially to being soaked with water/urine
3) Conductivity – To measure the power of your pee with the arduino
4) Mutability – to provide a bit more engagement and feelings of accomplishment for the interactor, the device should react and change in accord with the user’s actions (peeing on it makes it different)
5) Semi-Permanence – Littering sucks, and also this increasing the dynamics of claiming spaces; once your marks bio-degrade you need to maintain your trips and markings of a place to retain leadership.
At first, I wanted to deal primarily with points 1 and 2 (and a little bit of 4).
My very first goal was to create a little marker that, when peed on, would reveal a secret message.
A nice discussion of possibilities for doing this was held here:
My beginning attempts focused on methods of imprinting an invisible message onto supposedly ordinary looking paper which would reveal itself once soaked in water or a mildly acidic or basic solution (urine). This was the tricky part- there are lots of methods for making invisible ink that reveals itself when activated by heat or UV, but liquid alone proved to be challenging.
I experimented with those crayola color changing markers, and tried to located that special crayola water color paper used by very young children, where the colors are activated by a paintbrush with ordinary water.
The color changing markers failed to respond to water or urine in order to reveal the secret message. I tried various other chemicals too.
Another difficulty to this problem was that the method should be mechanically repoducable (i wanted to print it) and the message was of high visual complexity (a QR code), and I needed high contrast for it to be machine readable.

Third design challenge

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

this time we will try to include the process into the design challenge and we would like to proceed with a view toward the Dourish paper. In some ways the challenge is a practice-based response to the paper.
step one: find a context
step two: analyze it in what Dourish called “positivist” way
step three: break it down to a “phenomenological” counter approach
from these analyses evolves your particular problem
step four: based on step three > suggest a digital thing
We would love to see your process when you do your print out/ presentation.

Open Hardware streaming

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

From Friedrich:

In case any of you are interested in Open Hardware, they are streaming the whole thing live from New York:

Second challenge

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

design challenge for September 14th

This challenge is based on the quote used in Potteiger/ Purinton “To exist historically is to perceive the events one lives through as part of a story later to be told” (see p 4); create a digital media “thing” that puts a 14-year old into such a frame. The history field we are talking about is the civil rights movement.
As an extra incentive: keep in mind the evolution from exploration/ discovery of something to a state of transformation/ creation to a state of replanting/ distributing. History, here, should not be seen as a thing of a distant past but in relation to one’s life in the here and now.

First design challenge for fall 11

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Here is our initial “warm up” design challenge on the official channel:
the jump off points for the design challenge from the readings was a combination of the
“frame” as described by Bateson
and the “wittingness” as described by Sheridan
and the role of theater as described by Boal (we talked less about that, so here is the key quote, I want to stress: “The theatrical language is the most essential human language. Everything that actors do on stage, we do throughout our lives, always and everywhere. Actors talk, move, dress to suit the setting, express ideas, reveal passions -just as we all do in our daily lives The only difference is that actors are conscious that they are using the language of theatre, and are thus better able to tum it to their advantage, whereas the woman and man in the street do not know that they are speaking theatre”)

The assignment is:
Find an everyday movement that happens in daily life.
Design an intervention that changes our awareness (wittingness, if you want) and transforms us to actors (spect-actors, if you want).
The goal of that intervention is a change in behavior for this movement.
Your intervention should be non-digital as we will be digital enough in the future.
Due in two weeks – so I hope to see some working designs.