Lamps Update

So I went back to Material Connexion on Friday with my friend Nora who has had considerable experience with fiber optics. I explained to her what I’d like to do and how I’d like to do it, and we looked at the variety of materials available to us at the library in Manhattan.

There was the beautiful Lumiblade OLED panels that would work, but wouldn’t be as flexible as I’d like them to be.

Along those same lines was the Sensacell panels, that you see in a lot of interactive installations. They also sacrifice flexibility but instead you gain a considerable amount of interactivity.

But ultimately, the materials I’d like to work with turns out to be the Lumitex fiber optic sheets. Material Connexion didn’t have any in their library but they did  have the Italian brand Luminex fiber optic fabric. Unfortunately, the Luminex is very dim and as a result a no go for what I’d like to accomplish. Nora mentioned she has some Lumitex at her studio and I plan on visiting later this week to play with it, but at this point I’m considering an alternative construction.

Enter Origami.


Chat’s and Doorbells

We had two assignments recently for Sensitive Buildings that were meant to get us more comfortable the ZigBee’s and the XBee wireless network systems. With one we built a doorbell using a simple sensor, two ZigBee’s, a button and an Arduino. Unfortunately I didn’t have the foresight to document what I had with the doorbell, but when I worked in a group with Sheiva Rezvani on the chat assignment we made a few videos. Check it out below and then go read Rob Faludi’s Building Wireless Sensor Networks.

Sensitive Buildings XBee Chat from Sheiva Rezvani on Vimeo.

Fiber optics / Lights

I’m often surprised how little people have used fiber optics to create lamps and lighting solutions. I have seen some examples, they’re just rare, which makes me wonder if there’s an inherent problem or if designers just don’t like the materials. Regardless, I’m thinking about playing with this material from a Material Connexion to design a flexible desk lamp that lights up. 


We’ll see what happens!

Playing with Printers

I’ve been doing a lot of printing these past few weeks, which is wonderful. I build a lot of code and to finally have something physical to hold and display is validating. For Ideas Taking Shape we’ve been building a lot as well, including spending some time at the MoMA this past week to research and build an object in the style of an artist or designer from the 20th century.

The design exhibit at the MoMA is wonderful but it’s also very limited, the Cooper Hewitt is by far the better museum when it comes to designed objects, nonetheless there were a number of very interesting pieces. Instead of choosing an industrially designed object I became fascinated by the work exhibited next door at the architecture section, in particular the model of the Sevilla Parasol.


Parasol in Seville

The organic shapes and airy beauty of it is just captivating to me and I wanted to try to create something like that. So I took to my 3D software of choice (SketchUp) which I had used successfully before in architectural drawings but when it came to creating organic shapes, I was hopeless with.

I was adamant however that I print my object this week so I printed it out and created my first 3D printed object using the MakerBot. This insistence might partly be due to the fact that I visited the new MakerBot store near NYU two weeks ago to see their new Replicator 2 and then heard about FormLabs and their new product. Exciting times for 3D printing.

What I ended up printing turned out to be a lot less exciting, due to a lack of technical skill with 3D software. I got a few tips from classmates though, which hopefully will lead to a better version of this before the term ends. I’m looking into Rhino for Mac and the Plethora Project, which seems to be an amazing resource for anyone interested in learning about generative art and 3D modeling.

The Power of Observation…

Sensitive Building’s is about understanding as much as it is about creating. To that end, Rob Faludi, our professor and ITP Alumni, first assigned us to simply observe.

After chatting with Michelle Boisson, my classmate and partner on this project, we decided to try to head down Ground Zero on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks to observe people as they experience the site. We first arrived at the Cortland Street Station but we meandered south from there to the edge of Zucotti Park, on the corner Trinity Place and Liberty Street where last year Occupy Wall Street had encamped.

View Larger Map

We had originally planned on going straight to the memorial just a block away but it was closed to the public for family of the victims of the attacks. This turned out to be fortuitous since a second part of our observation exercise was to have another group from class go to the same location at a later date and observe what they could. Our counterparts, Michael Uzzi and Gavin Hackeling decided to attend on the following Sunday and Monday which happened to be the one year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Our observations can be seen in the presentation below.

Objects imbued with emotion

We’re starting a new term at ITP and I’m enrolled in what looks to be an excellent course on product design called Ideas Taking Shape. Our first assignment is to create an object our of plain wood that would embody an emotion. I decided to work with the emotional state that stress creates, though I’m not certain if I can call “stress” an emotion. Nonetheless, I first imagine creating a sculpture not unlike the “Atlas” sculpture outside of Rockefeller Center, a man who carries the weight of the world on his shoulders.

I drew out some sketches of a thousand needle like objects flying haphazardly onto a single object. Instead of splinter a piece of wood into a thousand bits I tried to find objects that already had the form I desired. This lead me through a search of materials at hand and materials I could purchase and I settled upon Toothpicks. Through the process I also happened upon some old Jenga blocks that we were going to throw out and I realized how perfect the blocks were for this creation.

The result is two sculptures that try to embody what stress might feel like, the never ending attack of deadlines, projects, commitments and obligations that are juggled precariously by the individual.

Textiles Encoded With Text Messages, Using WWII Cryptography

Saw these beautiful textiles encoded with ciphers from World War 2 and I got curious. Maybe there’s a way to implement visual cryptography through sheer materials like scarves. Take a look yourself.

Textiles Encoded With Text Messages, Using WWII Cryptography | Co.Design: business + innovation + design.

Mosh Mural (a teaser)

Working on this project for a while and it’s finally taking shape. I hope to be able to post something more soon about how it looks. But in the meantime the code is available here at github.

The central premise is that visuals at concerts often concentrate on the music or the band, but rarely offer the audience an opportunity to feedback into the music and the aesthetics. The mural functions as a mirror for the audience, offering them a new way to engage the performance and via the visuals the performers. It allows a feedback mechanism that is tuned to both the audience’s motion and energy as well as the music.

The program uses the Kinect to capture data about the space and people and augments it with audio data from FFT algorithms.

Check a teaser below, but more documentation will follow soon. The project is a work in progress as we’re trying to fine tune the visuals and interaction for the ITP Spring Show.


Appropriating New Technologies

Computer vision isn’t necessarily new. In fact there’s been a bit of appropriating this technology already posted on my blog earlier, but there’s a lot of room to explore and here’s an exploration using OpenFrameworks and OpenCV to recognize faces, flip them and attach them at roughly where the chin is, hence bringing new meaning to the term “double chin.”



Suggested Crypto Art Abstract

So I’m considering a paper on the topic of visual cryptography in art. Here’s a short abstract I wrote, I would love any feedback anyone would have.

The intention of this paper is to explore the potential uses of visual cryptography in the arts. Cryptography has typically been the playground of mathematicians and computer scientists and the lifeblood of the financial industry and secretive organizations. In 1994 Moni Noar and Adi Shamir developed a novel method of encryption that splits an image into shares which when layered can recreate the original image. Alone the shares are just static and their original image can’t be deciphered through pattern analysis. This concept has obvious potential uses in the arts to hide a message either to protect the author, the content or simply to make a statement through the process. This paper will explore how cryptography has been used in art thus far and suggest potential methods and applications of visual cryptography in art practice.