One of the amazing things about the building at 240 Central Park South is its history, and throughout our focus groups and research of the building and its inhabitants we’ve been reminded of this. One bit in particular stood out to a few of us, author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry lived in the building and wrote a portion of the best selling children’s story The Little Prince while living there.
As a group, Sheiva Rezvani, Luis Daniel and I were fixated on this point and the beautifully illustrated stories of Saint-Exupéry. We each read the book again and we decided to try to recreate the experience narrated by the prince of watching sunset on his little planet whenever he felt sad.
A cursory search of webcams online led us to a wonderful website The Eternal Sunset where you can watch sunsets on a series of curated webcams around the world. We utilized this set of webcams as well as others we found from EarthCam and coded everything into a Processing Sketch (github) that would cycle through the sunsets, analyze the sky image and decide if the sky was light enough for a sunset or if the sun had already set and then transition on to the next.
We also had heard from the residents during our focus groups that noise was a ever obtrusive element in their lives at 240CPS. We decided to weave a little noise into the picturesque Sunsets to transform the piece from a simple screensaver-ish piece into more of a visualization of the peace of mind of the residents as well as a reminder of the colorful history of the building.
At first we tried to inject noise through a physical interface by stripping the electric magnetic shielding and then warping the signal along the VGA cable. You can see our experiments below.
Ultimately we decided to concentrate on keeping the noise software-based. Utilizing the sound data feed that Michael Uzzi and Alex Olivier built for their group project Hive240, we added a few lines of code into our sketch to create noise that would fade in and out based on how loud the data stream indicated it was outside.