This project is inspired by Junji Ito’s Japanese horror manga, Uzumaki. Uzumaki tells the tale of a coastal town gripped by the mysterious curse of the spiral. The curse manifests in a number of terrifying ways, with the entire town’s inhabitants eventually becoming supernaturally entangled with one another.
Uzumaki Embroidery Ring is a dark nod to the Japanese horror classic. Using what limited resources are available in the grips of the spiral curse, I imagine myself as a lone craftsperson, mindlessly producing yet another manifestation of the wicked spiral. Through the action of tracing a spiral within the ring, the user activates a series of broken circuits, lighting the path of the spiral as the doomed town descends towards the spiral’s singularity.
The unraveled spiral makes the circuit a bit easier to process visually. A previous wearable I produced called “Blinky Boots” uses this same technique in a straightened out version of the circuit:
Chalk outline of the proposed circuit. By running a conductive item (I use a metal guitar finger pick) along the two inner spirals, the circuit of each successive Red LED is completed as long as the connection remains. By tracing the entire spiral, the user completes each successive break in the circuit.
A classic feature of the largest social media network on the planet, the Facebook “poke” is perhaps best described as infamous for its intrusive and pointless nature. Having no real function other than to remind friends of your presence, the “poke” function spawned a colloquial and unofficial game known as the “poke war”.
Friends repeatedly poke one another until one or multiple participating parties give up. Users that have engaged in poke wars over the years sometimes have hundreds, even thousands of unchecked poke notifications from rambunctious friends eager to win the lawless and sadistic game.
This project attempts to create a live action interpretation of the Facebook “poke”, whereby users donning powered gloves and accompanying shirts poke their friends, triggering both a vibration and LED marker, alerting both the friend and those around them that they are being mercilessly and egregiously poked in a brutal, endless cycle of misery.
Torontotees.com T-shirt – Blue & White; 527 Yonge St.
Cotton Glove – Blue; Black Market Used Clothing
Fabric Painting Medium
Acrylic Paint (Blue and White)
Fine-tipped Paint Brushes
In my initial sketches, I lay out the overall idea. I toyed with housing the battery locally on the shirt, and simply using the glove as a connecting switch, however I decided that it would be more symbolic of “poke wars” if the offending user were the one to power the circuit. The t-shirt consists of the contact point for the glove, the LilyPad Vibration Motor and a red LED.
I found the alleged Facebook font online, along with the “poke” logo. With some finagling in Adobe Illustrator, I created a template with which to stencil my augmented logo onto the t-shirts.
I wasn’t too pleased with that result so I opted to go and have them printed for a modest fee.
Comparison shot for dramatic effect.
I had browsed some info on Kobakant about making a pressure sensitive button using velum and conductive thread, however I had difficulty finding a concise tutorial on how to do it. I tried my hand at producing one but I think I was missing some steps involving an Arduino, so I put the tangental experiment away on a shelf for review at a later date.
These patches of conductive fabric act as the gap/contact point for the conductive finger tips of the glove.
I had originally planned on using a sewable LED for the garment, however the LilyPad Red LED didn’t work in parallel with the vibe board, however the itty bitty 3mm LED worked like a charm.
Testing the circuit midway through production. Components work so far!
Chalk guidelines on the glove! Instead of both traces resting on one finger, I spread them across two fingers for some leeway in the precision of the poke.
These traces were unexpectedly difficult to sew. Definitely got sweaty and red in the face while doing this. In the future, I would probably opt to use a hand mannequin to make the sewing easier.
It works!…When I’m not wearing it? I tested the shirt while wearing it, and it didn’t seem to work 🙁 I’m not sure why and it definitely requires some scrutiny and more experimentation to figure out that kink.
Mabel Pines is a main character from the popular cartoon, Gravity Falls. She’s the fun-loving, effervescent sibling of her occasionally wet blanket brother, Dipper.
Mabel Pines is known for her vast collection of turtleneck sweaters, which tend to feature things that are cute, cuddly, fantastical and hilarious. In the opening credits of the show, Mabel can be seen wearing a plug-in sweater featuring her name, light-up stars and a rainbow.
For the project “wearing light”, I wanted to create a sweater that Mabel would conceivably wear. I wanted to make it feel cozy and homemade, with the same adorable and whimsical spirit present in the rest of Mabel’s wardrobe. I originally had this idea around Halloween, hence the subject matter of the sweater.
First order of business was to test my circuit. I was planning on wiring 8 LED’s in parallel and wanted to make sure that this was in fact possible before starting to sew. Lo and behold, for some reason unknown to me, this circuit wasn’t lighting up completely, so I started swapping out LED’s until…
I made a few concept sketches of my ghoulish creatures until I was reasonably satisfied with the look and feel, then I cut everything out of crafting felt.
I experimented with different colours of LED’s for the eyes, and I eventually settled on a set that functioned in the circuit with no funny business.
At this point I was ready to start sewing, so I made a chalk outline with some edges of the characters to make sure that everything would line up and there wouldn’t be any wonky eyes (although that wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world). I started by sewing in the battery snap and went chronologically from there, using a new thread at each connecting point in the circuit. I made sure to space my negative and positive traces sufficiently away from one another. I created arcs from each LED, where the traces get dangerously close to one another and the risk of a short goes up.
Some reinforcement for the snap.
OMG it works!
Further reinforcements using fabric painting medium to seal the traces.
I used embroidery thread to affix the ghouls to the garment, and there you have it! Mabel’s Light-Up Halloween Sweater!
At the time of this writing, the 9V battery snap unfortunately detached from the garment, rendering Mabel’s poor sweater in need of repair, and a robust pouch to protect the snap’s thin wire from wear and tear.
One of the most basic human predicaments is that of mortality. Through the decaying nature of the human body (and organic matter in general), limitations are imposed on the human experience by a single lifespan as well as by the basic needs that need to be met in order to survive. Ultimately, we must face our unavoidable mortality.
Taking inspiration from the technology found in airplanes designed to survive emergency situations such as a crash, The Black Box is a speculative wearable that stretches the definition of “wearable tech” to encompass an object that is “worn” by an accurately mapped biomechanical recreation of an individual’s brain. The project speculates about an era in which the body of a consciousness sidesteps or greatly delays many of the limitations imposed by a single lifetime and a relatively defenceless flesh box.
An artifact of this nature would need to fulfill many technical requirements. It would need to be constructed using material with high tensile strength so that it could withstand high energy impacts, such as in naturally occurring space phenomena, defence scenarios or in emergency landings. Alternatively, a concept explored in Larry Niven’s Known Universe series, the “slaver stasis field” could fulfill this requirement as well. The artifact would require resistance to heat and cold, would need to contain some kind of generator powered by renewable and/or readily available sources (solar cells, nuclear power), along with the ability to travel at relativistic speeds.
(above: “Return to Earth”. Matthew Crans. 2016)
It would require extremities with which to manipulate its surroundings (prehensile tentacles), and would need to contain a complex computational and mechanical system that could store and retrieve vast amounts of data on a scale that astronomically outclasses any system currently in existence, as well as provides the structure with the ability to repair and improve itself as data and physical resources are available. Lastly, it would need to run an AI system that allows it to both communicate with and learn from its surroundings and interactions.
(above: still from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) depicting the Monolith and pre-homo sapiens sapiens primates)
This project takes it’s inspiration from a number of sources, notably the mysterious and omnipresent “Monolith” detailed in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). In the classic sci-fi film, a mysterious black tablet known as the “Monolith” takes up residence in the solar system and interacts with pre-homo sapiens sapiens primates, presumably triggering the development of civilization by influencing the ape-like primates to use a tool to attack a competing tribe. Millions of years later, astronauts aboard a spacecraft operated by an AI system named HAL encounter the Monolith. One crew member, after being led through a vision sequence depicting them at various ages, is eventually transformed into a fetus which orbits and observes the Earth.
(above: “The Black Box VS the Monolith”. Matthew Crans. 2016)
The Black Box contains a similar air of mystery because of its apparently featureless structure. The imposing appearance of the artifact allows for a deep level of speculation about what technology conceivably lies inside, and tugs at and triggers a sense of awe and terror from observers. A structure of this nature could have existed for millennia, something that the project intends to suggest. What wisdom could an artifact like this with a developed conscience share with a civilization after having spent thousands of years exploring the galaxy and beyond?
(left: “Ringworld”. Bill Spitzak. c.1985; right: “Ringworld”. Dean Ellis. 1970)
Another inspiration is the concept of a “Ringworld” depicted in Larry Niven’s novel and series of the same name. The “Ringworld” is, “…an artificial ring about one million miles wide and approximately the diameter of Earth’s orbit (which makes it about 600 million miles in circumference), encircling a Sol-type star”(Wikia), and whose inner landmass is habitable. Similar to The Black Box and the “Monolith”, it is a mysterious alien artifact with an unclear origin inspiring awe, and which appears deceptively minimal.
(above: “Observation/Contemplation”. Matthew Crans. 2016)
The Black Box might also require another technology found in Ringworld known as the “slaver stasis field”, “…a field within which an object (or even a person) remains unaffected by the passage of time even for billions of years” and which acts as an airbag in crisis scenarios. Lastly, the material of which the Ringworld is constructed, “scrith”, has properties that should be identifiable in an artifact such as The Black Box: high tensile strength, conductivity, extreme temperature resistance, impact resistance etc.
The first iteration of The Black Box was completed for a similar wearables assignment completed for Erin Lewis in “Wearable Computing”. The following images depict process shots and the completed model.
The Black Box has crash landed on a habitable planet as a result of a storm of interplanetary debris disabling crucial components. The artifact enters a stasis mode while it attempts to repair itself. It is soon discovered by sentient inhabitants of the planet who observe cautiously. The Black Box, observing the inhabitants in return (and unbeknownst to them), begins to compile a library of their language in order to eventually communicate. The Black Box uses light and sound to deter the curious species from disturbing it before it can safely communicate and fully repair its systems and mobility.
Building on the concept developed in the previous wearables class, I intend to produce a similar model of The Black Box in a new environment, and containing functional electronics that depict an interaction between the artifact and its surroundings. I propose using a Ping sensor to detect proximity of an object to the Black Box, which will trigger a series of responses by the artifact in the form of light and sound.
To make a relief map of my intended snowy landscape, I started with a rough 3D outline using newsprint and masking tape.
To cover the structure, I cut strips of plaster fabric from a large roll.
Full coverage, now it needs to dry before paint is applied.
The Black Box consists of two parts: one which houses the electronics and front tendrils, and one which houses the other six tendrils and the body of the Box.
The RGB LED’s I had on hand needed to be soldered, so I opted for a sewable LED to get rid of that pesky problem. Using pliers, I formed circles at the end of each wire through which to sew.
Each pin of the Lilypad RGB LED has to be assigned to a digital pin on the Arduino (9, 10 and 11).
The wire that the 9V snap consists of is quite thin and consists of many small threads, so I used some alligator clips and extra wire to connect it to the VIN and GRND pins of the Arduino.
One element that was important for the final iteration of this concept given feedback from the previous class, was that the interaction between the Black Box and whatever it was encountering had to have better context that justified what was taking place.
I started to think about how every interaction would be unique in some way given the things, living and nonliving, that the BB could encounter. The possibilities were endless, so I reflected on a few different scenarios:
The Black Box is socially-minded/helpful
conducts risk-assessment procedures
passive listening builds language library
database scans – have any Black Boxes catalogued this species?
modeling behaviour, bio-mimicry to soothe/communicate
defensive maneuvers when met with aggression
helps societies innovate, improve their technology
The Black Box is insociable/aggressive
also conducts risk assessment (can I fell this foe?)
builds and deploys weaponry
offensive maneuvers (capturing cities, towns)
modeling behaviour to trick and overpower
In addition to the moral compass of the conscience within the Black Box, its behaviour and communication style will depend on its environment.
would differ greatly from this one:
For the purposes of this project, I decided that the Black Box would be making it’s first encounter with a species of ponies and unicorns found in the Clouds of Magellan, just outside the Milky Way on a wintery planet.
Species is peaceful and diplomatic, with the ability to be fierce and magical if threats arise
Welcoming: making offerings of giant bubbles and candy
BB responds by emitting a soft pulsing rainbow, one of the favourite colours of the pretty unicorns and ponies
Advanced communicators, society goes back millenia
Advanced technology, frilly packaging
Check out the rainbow in action!
2001: A Space Odyssey. Dir. Stanley Kubrick. Prod. Stanley Kubrick. By Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, Geoffrey Unsworth, and Ray Lovejoy. Perf. Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, and William Sylvester. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1968.
“Ringworld.” Larry Niven Wiki. Wikia. Web. 4 Dec. 2016.<http://larryniven.wikia.com/wiki/Ringworld>.