Project #2, Final Reflection

This was my first exploration into wearable technologies and as such, I feel that this project was quite successful. Although I wasn’t able to integrate the electronic and material components, the work I did with each allowed me to become a great deal more comfortable with building circuitry and with finishing ABS plastic (something I have been interested in since I began working with 3D printed plastic). Moreover, developing a project with such a relatively narrow conceptual basis was important in honing my skills at editing, as well as allowing greater experimentation with specific design details, such as the form and surface treatment of the pod.

I find that the field of wearable technologies is uniquely suited to my interest in the relationship between jewelry and wearer, as the integration of electronics with a piece of jewelry allows it to become responsive to some aspect of the wearer’s person, and thus promotes such a relationship. At an applied level, this interactivity between jewelry and wearer is useful for other fields in which I am interested, specifically, medical identification jewelry and assistive technologies for children with autism. Currently, however, I envision this project as something that could be productized simply as a unique piece of jewelry, without a specific practical function.

As mentioned in class, I would be interested in taking this project forward to completion. The most important element of this would be the modification of the electronics so that they will fit within the pod. One method of accomplishing this might be the use of surface-mount construction, rather than the through-hole construction I used for this iteration. Another possibility might be the elimination of the 551 timer from the circuit. So far, I have been able to get a simpler circuit to work only when closure of the circuit is achieved through direct contact between the electrodes/leads. I can only assume that the resistance introduced when using a finger to close the circuit is too great, although my attempts to decrease overall resistance by placing resistors from 10K to 300K in parallel with the touch switch have been unsuccessful. According to a simple touch switch design that I have found online, this problem may be resolved through incorporation of a metal oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor. This circuit design may also be more appropriate, as I am not particularly interested in the frequency modification that is introduced by the 551 timer, but would rather produce a constant, high-amplitude vibration as I feel this will provide an effective one-to-one link between the wearer’s touch and the jewelry’s response. However, incorporation of a transistor may result in the same scale problem as was present with the 551 timer, so ultimately, it may still be necessary to look at using SMD components.

Another design element on which I would like to focus greater attention is the design of the electrodes that will be positioned on the surface of the pod. Because of time constraints, I chose to create two small circular electrodes as I felt these would be easiest to affix to the pod’s surface. However, it would be possible to use strips of metal (ideally silver, as it would best match the neutral palette of the pods, and has connotations of fineness) to patterns on the pod surface.

 

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Project #2, Post #3: Surface Treatments

In order to further develop the tactile experience of this piece, I used different surface treatments of various textures on copies of the pod.

After my work with painting ABS in Project #1, I decided to try using spray paint as this might provide more even coverage. I found a variety of paint intended for use on plastic, which came in glossy, smooth and ‘textured’ (rough) finishes. These did provide excellent coverage of the plastic, requiring only two relatively light coats, and they dried to the touch within about a half hour.

I also used yarns to create softer textures; to do this, I drilled holes into the pods with fairly even spacing, and used a modification of rug-hooking technique. I was able to begin working with a loose merino yarn, as well as with an alpaca-cotton blend. I am also keen to try a yarn made of kid (baby goat), and jute, to provide a rougher texture.

I chose to use neutral colours exclusively, to minimize the role of sight in interacting with the pieces (and also because there was a greater variety of textures of spray paint available for neutral colours than for pastels or brights).

Several surface treatments of the pods. First row, left-to-right: satin white Krylon Fusion paint, gloss black Krylon Fusion paint, textured gunmetal Krylon Fusion paint; Second row left-to-right: satin white paint coated in clear DragonSkin silicone, silver grey flocking, merino yarn

Project #2, Post #2: Electronics

In order to create a touch-sensitive vibrating function for the necklace, I needed to create electronics small enough to be embedded within the hollow pod. My original idea was to build the circuitry on a micro-/nano-Arduino. However, upon Kate’s and Heather’s suggestions in class, I visited Come as You Are to investigate the electronics that are used in some of their smaller vibrators, as these are on a comparable scale to the pod.

The Fukuoku 6000 Finger Vibe (Photo: www.comeasyouare.com)

The vibrator that was most analogous to my intended object was the Fukuoku 6000, a touch-activated, quarter-sized fingertip vibe. This device has external electrodes, which, when they are both touched simultaneously by the finger, complete the circuit and activate a vibrating motor. As this was a strategy Kate had also suggested during my proposal, I felt that this seemed to be a logical one to pursue.

Because I was unsure of the specifics required to create such as circuit, I met with Kate, who directed me to several webpages related to the MIT Media Lab’s Drawdio, a device for ‘drawing with music’ – that is, a pencil hooked up to a circuit such that when the pencil makes contact with the page when drawing, the circuit is closed, a speaker is activated and it emits a tone. This device was originally created to work using any conductive object (e.g., skin, plants, running water from a tap) as the circuit-closing mechanism. Thus, I could simply use the Drawdio circuitry, with the substitution of metal electrodes and skin contact for the pencil setup.

The main challenge of this task was the interpretation of the circuitry schematics for Drawdio that were available on the Web.

Original Drawdio circuit design (Image: http://web.media.mit.edu/~silver/drawdio/make.php)

Ladyada.net's schematic of the original Drawdio circuitry (Image: www.ladyada.net)

Drawdio schematic from Concordia University's S-Lab (Image: slab.concordia.ca)

 

I initially found the S-Lab’s schematic to be the easiest to follow, substituting a vibe motor for the speaker and electrodes for the graphite; however, once I assembled the circuit on my breadboard per this diagram, I found that the vibe motor was continuously active, regardless of whether the electrode leads were in contact. After browsing some forums, I found someone who had experienced the same problem following this diagram, and discovered that the capacitor connected to the speaker ought to be connected via its negative lead. In hindsight, this makes sense, since the electricity in a circuit flows from positive to negative. But being somewhat out of practice with circuits, it didn’t occur to me until I read it. After this, I was a bit concerned about the accuracy of this diagram, and crosschecked it with the first two diagrams, which I had initially found quite difficult to read (I found it challenging to figure out how components were connected in the first, and in the second I was a bit thrown by the strange ordering of the numbered terminals on the 551 timer.) Using the S-Lab as a sort of legend based on the parts of it that did make sense (e.g., the bypass of timer pin 5 to ground via a 10nF capacitor) to ‘decode’ the other two diagrams. I then followed those two diagrams in constructing my circuit. One of the forums I had looked at when trying to solve the capacitor orientation problem had also suggested the substitution of a 10nF capacitor for the 680pF one indicated at pin 2. This did seem to provide a stronger vibration, and so I tried different combinations of resistors and capacitors throughout the circuit. I found that using a 10nF capacitor on pin 2,  a 330uF (16V) capacitor on pin 3, and a 10K resistor on pin 2 provided the strongest and most constant vibration.

Circuit prototype.

 

Diagram of circuitry for my piece.

 

The next step was to try to fit the electronics into the pod. In order to do so, I arranged the components of the circuit on a basic circuitboard, which I then trimmed down. However, this proved to be insufficient, and ultimately, I was unable to get the circuitry to fit into the pod. I also tried soldering the elements together without using any sort of backing, but this did not provide enough support and the solder joints kept splitting.

Attempt at fitting circuitry onto a sufficiently small board.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Islands

Little Islands continues my exploration into syncretism and reconfigurations of Latin American myths and iconography through new technologies. It also serves as a response to the series of drawings I did in the first part of the semester.

Little Islands main inspiration is the syncretic figure of tio Diablo, a Bolivian underground god/demon that protects miners. The strange and colourful figure of tio Diablo dictated both the visual language and the underground setting of the piece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My research into visionary artists from the Amazonian city of Iquitos informed some of my choices –in particular its flirtation with psychedelia and the use of music. These artists combine visionary imagery from indigenous traditions with European landscape painting, folk art and Peruvian popular culture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The piece also is an experiment in appropriation. My original intention was to use the same colour scheme of the lithography from the streets of Lima. This style called “chicha” uses a black background and colour neon colours, and its used as cheap forms of advertisement. Being constrained by a strict colour scheme proved to be a challenge, and I am not sure how successful I was at this. This small issue is representative of my concerns of appropriation as a viable methodology for my practice.

 

 

 

The piece is a work in progress. I am planning on adding the figure of tio Diablo as a main character who guides the viewer through the underworld and ultimately to the heavens. I see it as a really fast version of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Yet, I am hesitant of adding too many characters because I see these spaces already alive and with enough personality.

 

The music I selected is a mix by Doma Tornados of a 1970’s song by Argentinian singer Mercedes Sosa. Doma Tornados is an Argentinian DJ living in Barcelona and Sosa was one of the most important folk singers in Latin America. The merger of the folk with the contemporary is something that is being explored by many Latin artists and musicians, and it is a movement that I am really interested in.

Even as a work in progress I am satisfied with the direction the piece took. It was a good way to reconnect with my previous CG work. I am also glad I was able to avoid the dreaded CG look by using flat images in Cinema 4D. However, I found a glitch in when using this technique: once the alpha channel is used in several geometries it stops working correctly. This was really frustrating and I spent hours trying to fix it to no avail. Philippe suggested I deconstruct the scene and render elements separately, which is something I might have to do if I don’t find a solution soon.

Otherwise the tunnel section would have looked a bit more like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In retrospect I think this piece is a good example of the work I want to do for my thesis. It combines technology, Latin American myth, animation, music, and humour. It is an exploration of a mythical space where many realities collide and coexists. It is also representative of my position as both Colombian and Canadian, as well as being fascinated by traditional culture and new technologies.

Password: Little Islands

Nick – Project 2 pre-final-write-up

Unfortunately, I failed to foresee one major consequence of my waiting til the weekend to document this project, which is that the equipment rental on the 7th floor is closed. Because the Pico projector is kind of the keystone of my creation, I will not be able to provide final documentation of my 2nd project until Monday morning. For this, I apologize, and I hope that it won’t throw off schedules… For now, here is the link to my second video: http://vimeo.com/40433065 (and the first, since I also experimented with projecting this one and the link has changed since I last posted it: http://vimeo.com/40428843). I will add the images of the projection into objects as soon as I can.

My final thoughts on the project are positive overall. Looking at the work of Dev Harlan was a good jumping off point for me because it gave me something to work against (his perfectly-mapped projections that accentuate the rigid geometry of his structures vs. my organic mixing forms that attempt to disguise and challenge form). While I think that, in the end, the experiment yielded mostly negative results (I found in most cases that the projection had little effect on the perception of geometric form) it was fun to execute and was a good first experience with projecting onto/within objects. Exploring the addition of topography to the surface used in the making of the second video was very exciting, and did in some cases help create an interesting loss of visual reference point when looking at some of the larger paper shapes. Exploring the paper shape construction was something I got unexpectedly invested in and I think, as Marian suggested, I need to try this again using a more rigid material, because the tracing paper tended to sag and bunch, which took away from the projection in some cases. The wood and shower curtain experiment should have been given a little more time (and more careful measurements!) but I think that too has interesting potential and I feel that, if I do pursue this idea to the construction of installations in which people can stand, this would be an excellent way to prototype them. As for the interaction between the dry paint spatters on the paper/shower curtain and the projection, I think the structures worked better when they were free of those little dots, which just look black against the light of the projected video. It is an aesthetic I like, but which doesn’t really make sense with what I was trying to do, unless I really begin to use the spatters as another layer of formal disguise (by trying to “shade” the different faces of the structure in misleading ways, for example).

All in all I think there is a lot potential for extension, and it is a direction in which I’m interested in continuing. I would eventually like to see these videos projected at a high resolution (the pico’s pixellation of my videos was definitely to their detriment) on a larger, tent-sized structure. I’m still not sure if outside projection or from-within is the way to go, or whether a combination will be most effective. Ultimately, I need to play more with getting the right shape, executing it on a large scale, and putting in some time with some more sophisticated projecting technology. From there, I can begin to think of larger applications, such as placing these “video objects” in public spaces (bulging out of a window near eye-level, for example). I’m happy with where the work is taking me and with the exciting new technologies I’m beginning to incorporate into my (previously quite low-tech) practice.

Project #2, Process Post #1 (Form creation)

Sketches of possible pod forms

First off, my apologies for the barrage of belated process posts coming your way. Because I was feeling somewhat pressed for time with this project, I chose to assemble documentation of my work as I went, but to compile it for the blog after the fact.

The first step of my project was the creation of the ‘pod’ shape. I wanted to get this out of the way as quickly as possible, in order to be able to get my model file in to the Rapid Prototyping Centre as quickly as possible – with the end-of-term rush wait times went from 1 to about 3 days and sometimes longer if there was a technical glitch of some sort.

I started experimenting with different shapes by molding microcrystalline wax into forms that felt comfortable to grip. (The use of microcrystalline wax was fairly arbitrary, based on its cheapness, ease of molding, and the fact that I had a large block of it on hand.) Once I had created a few of these models, I started to sketch abstracted versions of them to come up with a form that was simple and visually pleasing.

The Leaf Touch vibrator (Photo: www.leafvibes.com)

When I visited Come As You Are to get some information on the electronics component, I realized that vibrators could also offer useful information on form, since they similarly need to account for ergonomics as well as visual content. I particularly liked those that had a simple and unified form – that is, those whose exterior consisted of only few distinct elements, and which had the least complex geometries. I had already planned that the outer surface would be one continuous form, but I was on the fence as to how much definition should be added to the surface, in terms of grips for the fingers, etc. This led me to conclude that I should limit the form as much as possible – in practical terms, create a form that

required the least number of curves, and the least convoluted curves, to construct in Rhino.

Ultimately, I chose to create a teardrop-like shape. I felt this provided a sense of organicity that was going to be important in establishing/emphasizing the relationship between the wearer and the jewelry. In addition this shape was likely to hang well as a pendant. To construct the form, I created two curves to define the profile of the object (one curve for the back, one for the front). I then created a 2-point circle between the first endpoints of these curves, to define the object’s cross-sectional shape. To create the bulk of the form, I then did a 2-rail sweep of the cross-sectional circle along the two profile curves, and capped the resulting surface to generate a solid polysurface. Next, I copied and scaled down the polysurface to being to define an interior cavity. Of course, because Rhino Nurbs objects are, at a technical level, just surfaces without internal structure, additional work was needed to actually create the cavity. I split both polysurfaces with a single plane, and then created planar surfaces between the edges of the lower segments of both polysurfaces and the edges of the upper surfaces of both polysurfaces; this generated two solids – an upper and a lower. So that these two solids could fit together once printed, I extruded a thin polysurface from the inner edge of the lower solid, and copied and subtracted this new polysurface from the upper solid.

Renderings of the 'pod', showing different possible surface treatments.

I then had the pod printed on the Fused Deposition Modeling printer at the RPC. I chose the FDM because, based on my previous work with the arteries pendant, and with my projects for my Small Objects class, I have found that the FDM tends to be sturdier, and I felt it was more likely to stand up to the drilling and weaving that was going to be necessary for some of the surface treatments I was considering. (It is also a substantially cheaper process, which allowed me to make a larger number of prints than I could have afforded on the MJM.) In the end, there was a mix-up with the printing process which resulted in me receiving both FDM and MJM prints of the object. This worked out well, as I was able to use the FDM prints for my weaving-based treatments as well as on their own to provide an additional texture, and I was able to use the much smoother-surfaced MJM prints for my paint and rubber treatments, eliminating the substantial preliminary finishing that would have been required had I used the FDM prints.

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Week Update 4

I have been working on the tones that are generated when someone moves in the space. My intention is for body movements to trigger tones based on their location within the space and then control the way the sound moves between the 4 speakers with their hands. I have been testing this out in the actual space. I have the tones working but I am still having some problems with the spatialization of the sounds from the hand movements. I am posting some code from SuperCollider that generates this from Processing.

Synth Definition for Tone:

// Deep Drone Synth
SynthDef(\droneDeep,
{
| freq, modFreq, pmIndex, panX, panZ, amp = 1.0 |

var en = Env.linen(1, 5, 3);

var src = PMOsc.ar(freq, modFreq, Line.kr(0, pmIndex, 5), 0, 0.1) * EnvGen.ar(en, doneAction: 2);
//var out = SplayAz.ar(4, src, spread: 1, center: 0);
//var delay = CombL(src, 2.0, 2.5, 6);
var out = src;// + delay;
//out + delay;
Out.ar(out, Pan4.ar(out, panX, panZ, amp) );

}).load(s);

An Open Sound Control Listener listens for OSC events sent from Processing in order to trigger new Synth objects based on the location.
Here is the OSC listener in SuperCollider:

// Receive from Processing (trigger Crash Synth)
~oscDrone = OSCresponder(nil, '\trigDrone', {arg time, responder, msg;

// Location of Body
var loc = msg[1];
//var loc = 0.5;
var cFreq = (loc + 2.0) * 50.0;
var mFreq = cFreq/2.8.rand; //(4.8.rand);
var pIndex = 20.100.rand; //cFreq + 0; //100.2000.rand;
var panX = rrand(-1.0, 1.0);
var panZ = rrand(-1.0, 1.0);
~drone = Synth(\droneDeep, [\freq, cFreq, \modFreq, mFreq, \pmIndex, pIndex, \panX, panX, \panZ, panZ]);

cFreq.postln;

}).add;

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