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By our powers combined…. ACTIVATE! April 7, 2010

Posted by Calvin in : Exer4: Best and Worst of ACTIVATE!, Proj3: ACTIVATE! , add a comment

I had the pleasure to sample most of the projects in the great hall. Unfortunately I totally forgot there were more in the lecture hall. This review will focus on my overall impression of what worked and what didn’t and use certain projects to illustrate in more details.

What worked:
> Good attraction: Projects that are raucous (the Protest?), had line up (Elbow’s Deep), had good hosts (WTF), and/or visually intriguing (balloon popping), got my attention right away.
> Continued engagement with a human: Elbow’s Deep (the one where you put your hand into a box while blindfolded) has a host talking to you throughout most of the experience. Human interaction often is quite memorable. This is not to say installation type that is purposely isolated (ex. Emotion Box) are failing. It’s more like if there is a host is she/he attending to you instead of looking around and “abandoning” you.
> Interesting concepts: can be mentally interesting – a random fact (WTF) – or viscerally – popping a balloon.
> Good extension: A take away to show your friends works also as attraction (paper slip from WTF). A record of your engagement also helps keeping the experience in the memory. For example, it just so happened I cut myself the next day and I used the Band-Aid from Elbow’s Deep, who knew!

What didn’t work:
> Bad host (unmemorable attraction and engagement): Some project like the cross-word one had very lazy hosts. I stood there for a while looking for someone to explain what to do and no one was there. I ended up walking away without trying. The balloon one is interesting enough that I asked around myself for instruction, but then the host just talked and left – I felt slightly “abandoned” and the human interaction was incomplete.
> No Attraction: several projects seemed to be content of not advertising itself in anyway (for ex. The Diary and the cross-word one; I tried neither).
> lubed condoms: my hand smelled nasty after touching them! (Elbow’s Deep) (Technically this worked great for a memorable experience)

What can be improved:
> Short experience that are relatively linear: most of the experiences did not require long attention span and are very straightforward. You pop a balloon, or you press a button and receive an envelope, and you are done.
> Entry and Exit experience is mostly sidelined: If there is some sort of narrative so there is a more thought out beginning, middle, and end of an experience (entry, engagement, and exit), and if they are linked together coherently, the experience will be stronger. It’s possible with the short time frame we had most teams only have enough time to think of the engagement.

It’s interesting that a lot of the ideas in the great hall came up in some form during our class’ brainstorming and prototypes! (knowledge booth, fear box, emotion box, maze)

My 2 cents.

What, is you March 5, 2010

Posted by Calvin in : Exer3: User Scenario , add a comment

The Seed
Most of us go through a morning routine after we wake up everyday. After our consciousness awake from the unconscious every morning, the first or second person we see is often ourselves, in the washroom, in the mirror. Do we ever wonder what we are seeing before we proceed to start the rest of the day? Or do we ever notice?
We have grown used to the reflective feedback of the mirror and forgot how there was a time when a person could have never see a perfect reflection of oneself, or a person could not see how other people see him/her, or a person could not have a “realistic” self image in their psyche. The first time a human see part of itself was probably from the reflection in a pool of still water… we can only image how intriguing the sensation must be, finding out the reflection is in fact, “you”, but not.
From the time/story of Adam and Eve, when they ate the forsaken apple and become “self aware”, human has been obsessed with the idea of self/ego, either consciously or unconsciously. Test for “self awareness” (mirror test) might be used as an indication of intelligence in animals, robots in fictions that have achieve self awareness become more “human”, etc.
So, when we look into the mirror, what do we see? Jacques Lacan, a psychoanalyst, is known for his theory of the “mirror stage” (wiki) in the development of the human psyche of a human child. When a baby after about 2 years of receiving constant sensory inputs from this reality, becomes “self aware” for the first time with a mirror, what does that do to that new human mind? (human babies fail the mirror test until about 2 years old). Was the experience traumatic? How can this experience shape how we see ourselves and navigate in this world? It will be interesting to do psyche analysis with older blind people that have been restored of their sights and “see” themselves for the first time. (It’s reported that they react to the mirror images as if they were another person at first, which is logical).

The Physical Apparatus
Two rooms/booths slightly larger than telephone booths are connected on one side. There are no windows and the rooms are sound proofed to prevent outside stimulations. Each room has a door that connects to outside. A wall with a plain door divides the 2 rooms. Hidden cameras are placed in both rooms (it’s important that the user doesn’t know there are cameras). A hidden speaker is place on one side of the first room (the room the user enters first). A high resolution monitor, either full body sized or half, is placed opposite the door (that divides the 2 rooms) in the second room. All the camera feeds are connected to a laptop outside for on the fly editing.
The lighting of the rooms will be soft and rather dim.
There will be markings on the ground in the center of both rooms.

The Visceral and Mental Apparatus
The user enters the first room, not knowing what to expect. The instruction is to face the 1st door and turn around, standing still in the center and wait about 10 seconds before entering the 2nd room. An unexpected small chime from the hidden speaker will elicit a head turn response from the user during the wait. All these are recorded with two hidden cameras, one in front and one behind the user.
As the user enters the 2nd room, a camera behind the monitor facing the door (to the 2nd room) will play its image on the monitor, so effectively the monitor acts like a mirror (if it’s a good monitor and the lighting is correct that user might mistaken it as a mirror). Once the user is standing still in the room, looking at the monitor as most of us do when faced with a mirror, for about few seconds, the user will see their head turn in the “mirror” (footage from the 1st room, in response to the unexpected chime). Then the user will see themselves turn in the mirror/monitor (footage from the 1st room). The monitor will then show image from another camera behind the user (in the door). The user will now be looking at their back in real time.
A very brief blur will be used to help transition between different image feeds.
After about 15 seconds when the user has grown accustomed to their backside, the image turn again (footage from the 1st room) to the front and the monitor displays feed from the camera facing the user. The user then exit when they feel like.

The Fruit
The intention of this experience is to create a disconnection and discordance between our sense of self and what we so readily accept as a projection of that self. If successful the user should question how they really “see” themselves, and how important is that sense of self, and what, in fact, is “self”.
A step towards not-self.

OooOo Shiny February 25, 2010

Posted by Calvin in : Check it out, Exer2: Feedback Object , add a comment

Shiny things are fascinating, don’t you think?

Like this one.

Aluminum Foil

ooOoOOooo shinyssss


Birds, however, don’t like to be bedazzled (they are funny that way). Like those pesty pigeons on your balcony.

Foil on fence

Pigeons away!

Sometimes walls and paintings can use some dazzles.

Foil on ceiling

pretty lights

Sometimes candles can be made more shiny.

Candle in foil

pretty lights!

or like this
Foiled Candle with shredded ends


But of course, sometimes, it comes with silliness.

Silly Hat

save us from these silly hats!!

… (meaning) in the absence of January 24, 2010

Posted by Calvin in : Exer1: Avatar , add a comment

I do not believe in alter ego.



but I do like a lot of stuff

such as kittens and soft baked chocolate chip cookies

call me Calvin. Hi

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