Living Walls (4)

Following on from the theme of medicine, disease, and more widely, biology, I began to create a processing sketch which would visually represent some of these ideas. Thinking about cells and molecules, I decided to use circles as the main “visual point” in my sketch. Without a hugely clear direction, I went through several iterations until finding something I was happy with:

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I’m still not entirely sure whether I’ll stick with this grey version or whether I will go back to the red. I think the red gives a clear medical feel, but something about the grey is more mature, more subtle in its approach, and perhaps more “ghostly”. The sketch is fully sound-reactive, something I had to work through slowly and step-by-step. I feel a real sense of achievement now that it is working though – this is the first time I’ve done anything sound-reactive, and it always feels good to expand my knowledge.

Depending on how much I can progress with processing this year, I might try to make a second sketch to compliment this first sketch. I think that when it comes to creating and editing the video footage of this piece once it is projected, it would be nice to have some variation. Alternatively, I might just decide to run different versions of this same sketch, perhaps one in red and one in grey.

Once I’m back in the studio, I’ll look at setting up a projector and getting this filmed.

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Web Contexts (7)

And she’s finished! It brings me a great amount of satisfaction to have this project wrapped up and complete. I had originally tried to upload the .html file to CodePen by copy and pasting it over, but this seemed to have some bugs and eventually CodePen started to crash. Instead I searched online for an alternative, and found a simple solution in the form of philome.la, a site which offers free twine hosting.

So here it is: (link on image)

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Living Walls (3)

In a rather ironic turn of events, halfway through my project themed around illness and infection, I came down with a very nasty bout of bacterial tonsillitis. I do find this situation slightly amusing, however the downside (apart from being in bed with tonsillitis) was that I couldn’t finish this project in time.

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I feel particularly this year that more and more barriers seem to be coming between myself and my work. However, perhaps the truth is that this year I actually have more drive and determination to complete projects to the highest standard, and I am met with disappointment when this doesn’t happen. This only encourages me more to finish everything I have left unfinished before the start of the next semester.

Just now, I am going to prioritise improvements to other projects, since Living Walls relies on my having access to the Barnes building, which I will not during the course of the Winter break. I want to re-imagine my Control project, do some further work for Design Domain, and finish off the code for Web Contexts. I can at least begin the processing sketch for Living Walls, since this isn’t a location-specific task.

Here’s to getting a lot of work done (I hope)!

 

Living Walls (2)

With a loose concept in mind, I decided to seek out an area in which to project. I wandered around the building, exploring hidden corners and corridors I hadn’t previously discovered. As an art building and a studio space, most of the walls are painted matt white, undoubtedly to suit any exhibition events. This is the perfect type of surface to project onto – at least if you want to get crisp, colour-accurate results.

I began by taking pictures of each area that I felt would work well with the projections. I looked for blank spaces, interesting shapes and features. I also considered how I would film the projections in each location, making sure there would be space to set up a tripod as well as space to set up the projector.

The area I ended up being particularly drawn to was the Victorian skylight, situated in a long corridor. I’m confident that this feature is part of the original building, therefore it seems appropriate to project here – a nod to the history of the place.

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I also imagine that projecting around this shape might produce rather interesting results. I could probably project at any time of day, since the contrast between the incoming light and the underneath wall creates a dark enough surface to show up the projector light. Therefore, I could film this spot from the same angle but over a course of time, showing the change from day to night. It also means I am less limited with times at which I can work – since this spot will always be dark enough, rather than only after 5pm.

In terms of what I will be projecting – I would like to create some kind of processing sketch, which seems medical or biological in some sense, but still with relatively abstract visuals. I want this sketch to be sound reactive, so that the elements maybe shake a little when a noise is made, or scatter or otherwise change their movement behaviour. Although the sketch will very much depend on what I can figure out how to code, I imagine my projection might look a little something like this:

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The next step for me now is to create this processing sketch, and make sure that the sound reactive element works smoothly.

Living Walls

For this project, the brief is to use projection mapping to create a site specific interactive installation in the Barnes building (our studio building). We can project onto surfaces within the building, be them walls, ceilings, tiles, stairs… any surface can be used. The projection must then react to its environment in some way, i.e. reacting to sound or movement.

Last time we used projectors to make art, my project fell outwith the brief a little. This time, I want to make sure I produce exactly what has been asked. I plan to explore sound as an interactive element, as I haven’t really worked with sound as an input, and I feel that audio and visual elements link together nicely. Hopefully it will be obvious that the environment is reacting to the sounds – therefore, whatever I make should be quite simplified and also quite dynamic.

I began by researching the history of the building, gathering as much information as I could. I had already known that the building had originally served as a hospital, but it was interesting to find out more about this. I discovered a detailed history of the hospital at the Historic Hospital Admission Records Project. It turns out that the building was a treatment facility for sick children who could not afford medical care. I found this story rather interesting. It seems that the staff were very charitable people and aimed to help those less fortunate than themselves. Before reading into this story, I had found it slightly creepy to study in a building which was previously an old hospital. However, learning that the hospital was built to help vulnerable children and that many of these patients were cured and saved gave me a different perspective. I realised that the history of the building was a positive one. I thought of all of these children coming in with illnesses and leaving having been treated. I began to imagine the building as some kind of large, friendly entity who took in sick children and put out healthy, happy ones. What if the building itself helped cure the children? Their illnesses absorbed by the walls and their own bodies left healthy and free of disease? I realise that this idea is rather abstract and far-fetched, but as a metaphor I rather like it. It makes the building seem less creepy and haunted, and more “kind”.

Following this idea of personifying the building, I decided I wanted to create visuals that would display all of the diseases the building had helped lift from the children. With this in mind, my theme became that of “disease”, however I still wanted to make sure the tone wasn’t threatening. I have decided the best approach to creating these visuals is to use processing – that way I can also build the sound-reactive element into the piece directly.

Web Contexts (6)

I didn’t quite finish my illustrations in time for the deadline, but I decided I would add them in anyway. I created one drawing for each ending. I then scanned these drawings and coloured them using photoshop.

I definitely think that including these images will improve the overall piece. The visuals were VERY plain before, and this adds in just a little bit more excitement, hopefully keeping the viewer engaged and interested to find each different ending. I feel like I didn’t do something all that “technically impressive” for this project, but it was my first time using twine. I’m also starting to feel like projects are piling up, and it’s best just to do what I can than to be overambitious and end up with even more unfinished work.

I can’t quite figure out how to add these images into my webpage; Twine has an option for adding images, but it doesn’t allow you to format the image at all, and I would prefer to have them all scaled to fit the proportions of the rest of the page. I expect I will need to add the images in somehow using HTML5, however it seems like something I need to sit down and ponder over.

Since I have to move on to focus on the next project, this one is being added to the “things I’ll work on oer Christmas” pile. Hopefully next time I write about it, I will have figured out the code and can embed a fully working version into my post.

 

Web Contexts (5)

Having created my “Student Life” simulation, a “day-in-the-life-of” style multiple choice story, it was time to make some cosmetic changes.

I wanted to create this project as a kind of social commentary on the “hardships” a student faces. I think this time in our lives is a stage at which young adults are learning to thrive independently, but a lot of bumps are faced on the way. I wanted to make something kind of silly but also (hopefully) rather relevant for any student that might end up reading it.

With all this in mind, it starts to become apparent that the actual content – the story- is the most important part. I therefore wanted to leave the aesthetic looking fairly simple. I simply decided to make changes that would make the story easier to read, and hopefully more visually appealing.

I began by increasing the font size, inverting the text and background colours, and creating buttons around the multiple choice links:

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These changes didn’t make it look any prettier, but I do believe it is far easier to read this way. I asked a couple of my peers for feedback in terms of the colour scheme: I got them to tell me which combination was easier to read. The general consensus was that dark text on a light background is less distracting.

I then made a final change by adding a pop of colour. I wanted the whole thing to look a bit more inviting, since the monochrome colours seemed very boring. I went for a cerise/magenta colour, for no reason in particular other than because I felt it would stand out against the black and also set the right tone. I don’t know why, but for some reason this colour reminded me of a student.

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Finally, I had my friends and peers test this version and comment upon it with feedback. I received positive comments on the story, and how it nicely summarises the student experience in 2017. This made me feel more confident about my piece overall. I do have a slight sense that it seems unfinished or perhaps just lacking somehow, but I think I need to have more confidence in the story – hopefully my writing alone is engaging enough. All the same, if I get enough time, I hope to add in a few illustrations, just to make the whole piece more engaging.

Web Contexts (4)

Having looked at various examples and learned a few new techniques, it was time for me to come up with an idea of my own. To begin with, I was entirely lacking in inspiration. Without any kind of guidelines around the theme, I realised I could make pretty much ANYTHING for this project, and the thought was slightly daunting. However after brainstorming for a little while, I decided I would take inspiration from my own life. I wanted to create something based around the life of a student.

My concept was to create a kind of walk-through, multiple choice game. It would be like an interactive story, about a day in the life of a student. I began by mapping out the story on paper, creating a flowchart-type thing so that I would be able to clearly see where each choice would lead. I ended up writing out the full version on A3 paper. I followed my story using the arrows to make sure each choice would work properly. I ended up with 13 possible endings, and around 40 different pages altogether.

Now that the story was written, it was time to put it into digital format. Because of the nature of my project, I decided I would use Twine, which is a software for building interactive stories. I began by using Twine.2, but I found that there wasn’t much documentation of the coding language it uses. Instead, I went back to using Twine.1. This was slightly more clunky, but also more simplified, and so I managed to successfully code the parts that I wanted to.

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Having built the whole story on Twine, it came time to test it out. I exported the whole thing as an html file, and opened it in my browser. The resulting site worked, which was great, but I wasn’t entirely happy with the look of it:

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I think probably the traditional black text on white background would look a lot better. I also want to play around with the font and font-size, as well as maybe changing the position of elements on the screen so that the sidebar becomes a top bar, and the links to the next page sit side-by-side instead of above and below each other. This means I need to delve into the HTML and CSS of my exported story. Hopefully I will figure out how to make it do what I want it to.

 

Web Contexts (3)

The next thing we looked at was a series of simulations, created using basic emoji icons, which represented real-world systems and situations. These simulations were created by Nicky Case, an artist we had looked at previously in the week.

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The simulations were created in grid layout, and each different “class” of emoji would have a different pattern of behaviours. Using Case’s template, we created our own simulations by inputting emojis and giving them various rules to react with. I was very much reminded of John Conway’s Game of Life. Conway is a British mathematician. His “game”, created in 1970, is more of an automation than a game. It works by creating small cells and giving them rules of multiplication and division, then allowing them to do their thing, resulting in a series of interesting patterns.

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I found it interesting to look at Nicky’s version. Using emojis to replicate real world items gives the simulations a sense of relevancy, allowing the viewer to understand a system in real-world terms. Examples we looked at included the spread of forest fires, and the spread of diseases and how vaccines could help.

I found this topic somewhat interesting but I don’t think it is a route I want to take for this project. I personally feel that this kind of thing has its limitations. It can illustrate some interesting processes, but it doesn’t do much beyond that. For me, I think going down another path will offer more creative opportunities and would generally just interest me more.

Web Contexts (2)

Continuing with the web contexts project, our next lesson was on how to create a Twitter bot. These bots would pull tweets from other accounts, analyse their speech patterns, and then generate a new tweet that might sound like something written by the user(s) it looked at. These tweets could then be tweeted to an account owned by the bot itself.

I had never created any form of bot before, and found this exercise very interesting. I don’t think I’m going to use this knowledge for this particular project, but it’s always useful to learn new things.

I decided to call my bot “Roe Bott” – a play on words. I wanted to use some twitter accounts that would have contrasting personalities, in the hopes that the mashed up results would be funny or bizarre. I couldn’t decide who to pick, but as soon as I had made a new account, twitter started suggesting people to follow. One of these was Nicola Sturgeon, Prime Minister of Scotland. Another was Honey Cocaine, a Canadian female rapper. I decided that this seemed like as good a contrast as any, and so inputted their twitter handles into my bot.

Capture

The tweets were created by running a python file using the Command Prompt. I hadn’t really used Command Prompt before now, and it took me a little while to figure out what the code was doing or how to run it. Once I had grasped it however, it was very easy to run the software and create new tweets, also being able to add or subtract different twitter users into my tweet-mashup recipe.

The first few tweets were made using just @NicolaSturgeon and @QueenHoneyC .

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The tweets began to run a bit dry however, so I tried adding other accounts into the mix. Eventually I found a combination which I felt produced good content: @JerembyCorbyn along with Nicola and Honey. The results were pretty hilarious, at least in my opinion:

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and my personal favourite:

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I imagine that if my bot had a personality, she would be a sassy socialist. She isn’t afraid to tell it like it is, and she’s a proud Leftie. Honestly I think it would be interesting if people believed that this was a real account. How would humans interact with it? How would other bots interact with it? I think it would be great to understand how to make your bots have conversations with each other, to make them able to reply to tweets.

This was a fun experiment and I found the whole thing rather humorous. It’s interesting to see how juxtaposition effects things.