TAM Workshop: Git / GitHub




git init –should respond saying “initialized empty git repo”

ls – will list all files…

git add <FILENAME> – do this to add a specific file

git add .  – do this to add all files in that directory

git status – will respond with the changes to be committed, unstated changes in red, changes to be committed are in green

git commit -m “commit message here– you must include a commit message, it should be something short and meaningful (will respond with committed files)

if a file is already being tracked, you can commit changes using:
git commit -a —m “commit message here

connect your local repo to your github repo:
git remote add <NICKNAME> <LINK TO GITHUB REPO> (nothing will be returned)

You can nickname your remote whatever you want, but standard practice is to use origin. However if you have multiple remotes, you need to name them different things.
****ONLY DO THIS THE FIRST TIME, when updating repo, skip to push

git push -u origin master (it will take a second, then it will confirm)


git log – Show us a chronological log of all of our commits to the current repository.

git checkout – “check out” a different version of the code from the one you’re currently looking at.

git diff – create a “diff” view to demonstrate what has changed between two different versions of your repository.

git branch – list all branches in the current repository and indicate which branch you’re currently in.

git branch -D <BRANCH NAME> – delete the branch named <BRANCH NAME> from the repository.

git merge <BRANCH NAME> – merge the history from branchname into the current branch.


if you create a README.md on github, you need to pull this file to your machine – 

git pull origin master

Fabricating with Fungus

I have been working at ITP Camp for the month of June, helping organize events and teaching workshops. ITP Camp is a 4 week crash course/playground for busy working professionals. Every June, we invite non-student makers, artists, musicians, creatives of all sorts, to come to ITP on evenings and weekends to make stuff, hear speakers on the cutting edge, collaborate with people from diverse disciplines. It has been a wonderful way to ease out of the craziness that was thesis, and to share the skills I have learned at ITP with eager campers.

The first workshop I taught was a Fabricating with Fungus session. The beginning of the workshop was spent discussing the relatively unknown Kingdom of Fungi. Mycelial networks have been likened to social and communications networks. Fungi communicate, remediate, and decompose. They are used as food, medicine, spiritual guides, and material building blocks. Some are crucial to the soil food web; others will kill you. What do we have in common with mushrooms? What can we learn from them?

We then moved on to fabricating with fungus, using mycelium for oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) and pasturized coffee chaff as our substrate. Each participant got their hands dirty and fabricated a small mycelium form. We had 25 participants, which was a wonderful turnout, and a few others stopped by to check out the process.

Here are my slides from the first part of the workshop. It was really an honor to share this incredible technique, and I was so excited about the enthusiasm of the participants!


NS4D Drop-proof Microcontroller Enclosure

The group challenge that I worked on with Marc and Lisa for Networked Sensors for Development was to design a microcontorller + sensor enclosure that would withstand a 2-story drop. For our sensor, we choose to use an accelerometer because conceptually it made the most sense given our constraints. We created an enclosure with two layers of protection; it had an outer foam enclosure and a rigid inner enclosure which housed the circuit and also was padded with foam.

Here is what we came up with –





The enclosure we designed protected the Arduino and the circuit, and everything perfectly after the drop! I even dropped it several times to get good video of it. Overall the challenge went surprisingly well. The only part we didn’t focus much on was ways of saving or transmitting the data, that would be an important next step in the design.


This was a fun challenge and I enjoyed the process of creating something durable; it was also fun to drop out of the window! For my final project for this class I am interested in collecting data of light levels indoor versus outdoor, I would be happy to work with a team on this, but also already know what sensors and data-logging method I want to use, so I would be happy to work alone as well. measuring light

Hacking Clock Movements

I’ve been working on ways of hacking a clock, the first two I tried were completely ruined because I couldn’t keep the gears in place as I took it apart. And the gears are so small and delicate that once they fall out of place, it’s nearly impossible to get them back into place. I finally figured out how the gears are arranged, and I was able to take it apart in two parts and then tape the gears together while I hacked the electromagnet inside.

This is the tutorial I’ve been working from.

First I carefully removed the top enclosure to reveal the clock mechanism. Then I removed the quartz crystal that was soldered to the electromagnet and soldered wires to the +/- pads so that I can connect it to my Arduino. Then I really carefully put the whole thing back together, keeping my finger on top of the gears so that they wouldn’t fall apart. See the images below for details.

IMG_3488 IMG_3494IMG_3489IMG_3490IMG_3491IMG_3498




NS4D Notes on Light & Energy

Of all of the challenges we’ve read about and discussed this semester, this week’s topic of Energy feels the most challenging to address in terms of prototyping alternatives and developing new systems. The issue of energy infrastructure is enormous, and expensive; it can feel a bit daunting especially from a development perspective. That being said, it has been really insightful to read more about this issue, but also has reinforced my interest in water and environmental issues as problem areas where my work could have a bigger impact. It is exciting to also think about the potential of mobile technology and infrastructure as methods for improving access to basic energy, water and sanitation services.

I have also been again reminded of how intimately these issues are tangled together. One of the reports had a quote from Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank Leader, who said “Ending poverty and ensuring sustainability are the defining challenges of our time. Energy is central to both of them.” 

I was also really excited to learn that 2015 is being called the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies. My thesis project is all about light, and although I’ve taken more of a creative/artistic approach in that project, I am hopeful that my research and the work I’ve done with light sensor and solar might lead toward ideas in the realm of development. I am excited to talk more about this topic in class.

The rest of this post includes notes from the readings, the most interesting things I pulled out that I wanted to keep a record of here –

Sustainable Energy for All

“Energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, increased social equity, and an environment that allows the world to thrive. At a time when 1.2 billion people worldwide lack access to electricity, when 2.8 billion people do not have clean and safe cooking facilities.”

The goals of this initiative, by 2030, are to:
1. Ensure universal access to modern energy services.
2. Double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency.
3. Double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

Predicting the Future of Mobility-Enabled Community Services

The purpose of this program is to accelerate the efforts that use mobile technology and infrastructure to support increased and improved access to energy and water services in emerging markets.

Based on the current footprint and maturity of the mobile industry, the MECS Programm has identified five channels that can support better access to energy and water:
1. Mobile Infrastructure – Leveraging the presence of telecom towers in off-grid environments to support rural electrification efforts
2. Mobile Operator’s Distribution & Mobile Money Agent Networks – Leveraging the distribution reach and brand of mobile operators to reach underserved customers
3. Machine-to-Machine Connectivity – Enabling the remote monitoring and Pay-As-You-Go capacity of decentralized utility systems
4. Mobile Payments – Providing flexible, convenient and secure mobile-enabled payment solutions to low income populations 5. Mobile Services (Voice, SMS, USSD, Applications) – Leveraging increased mobile phone ownership to collect/disseminate critical information on utility services and/or supply chain management.

This figure illustrates the five mobile channels that can be used to enhance access to energy and water.

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 10.42.57 AM

Overwhelmingly, the need for these services is in Africa, which is also where the majority of current projects are being funded.

Here is a map from the report that shows the Geographical Distribution of Grantees –

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 10.47.44 AM


I found it particularly interesting in reading this report the connection between energy and water. That is something we’ve talked a lot about in class, but it was insightful to gain more insight into this connection.

Motors for Clock Making

Working on getting my daylight clock running. I have it working in a javascript version, now the trick is sending the data to a hardware version so that I can build out the final artifact. Here’s a few of the resources I’ve been using in my motor and clock research.

  • This post about hacking a clock.
  • These little steppers.
  • These clock movements.
  • This tutorial on stepper motor control.
  • This basic guide to motors.
  • This EasyDriver tutorial and sample code.

I am using Bruce Shapiro’s EasyDriver from Sparkfun, which replace an H-bridge in bipolar stepper circuits and simplifies everything a lot. The four wires from the motor connect straight to the EasyDriver along with an external power source rated for the motor you’re using. Then simply connect the direction input to pin 8 on the Arduino Uno, connect the step input to pin 9, and connect the Arduino’s GND. And in about ten lines of code, the motor is happily turning! Eventually I will move down to a smaller stepper, but for now this is a great start.


Next step, while I wait for my smaller steppers to arrive, is to get the motor to receive data from my javascript clock. I used this ITP P-Comp tutorial last December for my MirrorSnaps project, and will be referencing it again.

Light Sensor Prototyping: Adafruit’s TLS2561

I’ve been testing out a lot of different light sensors, trying to get a handle on exactly how each works and their various outputs. The tricky thing about testing light sensors, even when there is solid documentation and example code for the sensors, it that light, overall, is really difficult to measure. And given that I test most of these sensors at my desk, it can be difficult to easily get a range of readings. I’ve had good luck with todays tests though :)

Today I’ve been testing out the Adafruit TSL2561 Luminosity Sensor, which is a low power, digital luminosity (light) sensor that is ideal for use in a wide range of light situations as it can measure from 0.1 – 40,000+ Lux on the fly. The little breakout board has both infrared and full spectrum diodes, which allows for a measurement more accurate to the way human eyes perceive light.

Some stats on Adafruit’s TSL2561 – 

  • approximates human eye response
  • precisely measures illuminance in diverse lighting conditions
  • temp range: -30 to 80 *C
  • dynamic range (Lux): 0.1 to 40,000 Lux
  • voltage range: 2.7-3.6V
  • interface: I2C
  • also, here’s a link to the datasheet

I got the example working fine, but am struggling a bit to get the LED to light up according to the detected brightness. I’m wondering if it’s because of the range that I’m working with.

Here’s a link to the code on github.

More updates coming soon!


**Much of the content of this post was pulled from the Learning guide for the TSL2561 on Adafruit’s website, it is meant for my own reference and general documentation of my experiments testing light sensors.

Mycelial Forms

Here are the results of some of our mycelium experiments. We always grew a control for reference, and although many of our results were very beautiful, I still love the quality of un-touched control material.

I did a few experiments with dyeing the chaff substrate, natural dyes didn’t hold as well as synthetic, not surprisingly. In all of my experiments, it has been extremely difficult to grow the mycelium in colors, but the material does take well to color after the forms have been grown.


For more on natural dyeing with Mycelium, Pam and were fortunate enough to speak with the natural dye artist Audrey Louise Reynolds about her experience working on the MOMA PS1 HyFi Project. For more on that conversation with her, read our report Mycelial Color Space.

Some of the experiments that we were the happiest with were using beeswax and encaustic with the mycelium. Although the mycelium did not grow through the materials as much as we were hoping, we were thrilled with the results.


The Process of Growing Mycelium Forms

This process begins with grain spawn, in this case purchased from Aloha Medicinals. The spawn is 100% certified organic, grown on amended white sorghum grain. This particular spawn is Pleurotus ostreatus, also known as oyster mushroom. *The bag with the larger grain is from a different seller from Rochester, the following experiments all use the Aloha product.


I am using coffee chaff as the base material on which to grow the mycelium. Wood chips, straw, and other organic materials can be used as the base substrate. Before the chaff can be combined with the grain spawn, it needs to be pasteurized. I am using a 5-gallon coffee pot to do this, as it allows me to maintain a temperature of needs to be pasteurized, which I am doing in a large 5-gallon coffee pot.


_A1A9837The chaff is then spread out on a sanitized surface, and broken apart while it cools down.


Once the chaff has cooled down and been broken into smaller pieces, we combine it with the grain spawn and pack it into the molds.


The molds work best when they are closed, with just a small air hole (in this case it is on the side of the silicon ice trays, you can’t see it in these images). Depending on the environmental conditions of your storage tent, the mycelium will grow around the coffee chaff within 7-10 days.



This particular round of experiments involved exploring how different materials could be incorporated into the mixture. Among my tests were wool, gold leaf, mica, and plant powders.

IMG_1522 IMG_1492


Multiplying Microbes


An update on my biosensor, after 1 week of growth.

There’s a lot of stuff happening on my dish, and I’m still working on identifying (at least generally) some of the growth. Today I had the great fortune of meeting Sebastian Cocioba, a biologist and maker who currently works at the SVA bio art lab. He talked about his work with and answered a ton of questions about working with microbes. Although it would be impossible to identify everything on my biosensor without sending it in for formal testing, Sebastian offered some helpful insights about understanding some of the growth. The microbes living on my plate is predominantly fungi, most interesting to me is the blue areas which is penicillin (a fungi). The black growths are some kind of mold, also fungi. The bit of tan growth in the middle appeared just this morning, that is probably some kind of bacteria.

A few links I have found that have been helpful in starting to identify these things.

Also, some readings from this week –


Getting Started: Networked Sensors For Development

The issues surrounding food security, agriculture, and environment are extremely important to me; of all the subject matter we are going to cover in this class, I am especially passionate about brainstorming both the problems and solutions in this realm. That being said, I have also been reminded how dangerous it is to consider any issue in isolation–from water to food to energy, everything is connected. These are enormous system problems, that require careful understanding of the entire cycle.

My research this week focused on soil health as a primary problem point regarding agriculture and food security. I was really inspired by this topic because of the way it considers the larger systems involved, and how focusing on soil health offers long-term solutions focused not only on productivity but also on resiliency. Focusing on soil health not only addresses issues of agriculture and food security, but also larger problems associated with climate change. In particular, the work of Rattan Lal has been really inspiring. As a link to share this week, I am contributing Rattan Lal’s article titled Soil Management In The Developing Countries (2000). I have read extensively about his work with soil in developing countries, and I felt that this publication best summed up his findings. Lal is the foremost expert in the field of soil science, and I have found his work extremely inspiring and insightful. Although this article is not especially recent, it is an area of inquiry that has received attention and is (hopefully!) finally catching on. I have also been reading The Soil Will Save Us, which expands on Lal’s research and the work of other soil scientists and explains the problem in an accessible way.

Also, last week in class I made a note to share a link to Atul Gawandi’s New Yorker piece, Slow Ideas. Not only is it beautifully written, but also illuminates many of the fundamental challenges involved in changing a system.

Thesis Update (And Feeling Stuck)

I’ve been feeling stuck with my thesis, struggling to make progress in a definitive direction. I’ve spent the past week getting up and running with Bluetooth LE, I’ve been working with the Red Bear Lab BLE Nano Kit and the TI Sensor Pack. I have continued to track my sunlight exposure with the SunSprite, but have run into roadblocks which have drained a bit of my enthusiasm about the project. Among other challenges (like the SunSprite’s casing falling apart…) the biggest roadblock I’ve faced is the motivation in wearing this thing. In all truth, I would have ditched the device if it weren’t for this project. The wearable realities of the SunSprite are extremely inconvenient, I’ve almost lost it several times, it’s falling apart, and it does not work without connecting to my phone (and my phone has been on the fritz…). I’m doing my best to keep moving forward even though it feels like I’m doing so blindly.


This morning, I happily stumbled across this essay by Jonathan Harris on being stuck. I was very grateful for his words, and for the reminder that new beginnings and productive moments follow periods of struggle.

Things I’ve been reading and listening to that are relevant to my thesis:

Meet Your Microbes

Everyone focuses on the microbes that are dangerous – but what about the good ones?

Last semester I worked on a project that aimed at fostering a deeper connection to our microbiome. It was a really fun project, but given our time-frame, I never felt like I was able to fully realize the concept. I am really excited about Stefani’s class this semester called Microbes: Food, Friends & Foes, and look forward to further exploring and developing my work with microbes.

A few related links from today –

Jonathan Eisen’s Lab
Bacteria Museum – SFAM
Microbe Museum Amsterdam
Archaea, Bacteria, Viruses, Protists
What Caused the Cambrian Explosion?

Mycelium Experiments

Pam and I presented our final project for The Fungus Among Us, and I spent the past few days documenting our extensive mycelium experiments. We learned so much throughout this process and are eager to continue exploring the material properties and potential applications of mycelium. Full documentation coming soon!

Click through to see a pdf of our Final Presentation



Wicked Problems

This week, I worked a lot on diagramming and practicing techniques for understanding wicked problems. In class we worked through created our own diagrams of the process of making toast, a practice borrowed from Tom Wujec. His TED talk is a great introduction to understanding wicked problems.


A few other favorite links from the week:

  • http://urbanplougharts.com/
  • http://www.theperennialplate.com/



Systemic Change with Compassion

Weekly Reading Response to Slow Ideas, by Atul Gawandi

I particularly enjoyed Atul Gawandi’s piece Slow Ideas for the ways in which he addressed technological innovations and the various approaches to addressing wicked problems. The article offered wonderful historical examples of significant systemic shifts, and I felt that his discussion of the invisible was particularly relevant to food systems. From food quality and transparency, to climate impact, to social justice, so many of the problems with our current food system are invisible to the general public, or pose a threat that is to far in the future. Like Gawandi’s account of both antiseptic and childbirth practices, any efforts toward reforming a system can feel tedious and cumbersome when the outcomes are invisible, or disconnected by distance or time. In considering interventions to these complex systems, I think this understanding of invisibility is extremely important.

But understanding the problems is only part of the battle, intervention, in practice, is an even greater challenge. In the past year I have spent a lot of time studying systems thinking and various way of both modeling and implementing significant paradigm shifts and I appreciated the authors quote of Everett Rogers, which suggests that “Diffusion is essentially a social process through which people talking to people spread an innovation.” Although this is not a new idea for me, Gawandi’s examples of implementing this social process were unique and profound. He says that simple awareness is not enough, rather we must develop deep-rooted relationships that will allow teaching to translate into practice. Above all, I was struck by the way Gawandi emphasizes the importance of compassion in approaching difficult or enormous problems–the importance of establishing credibility, consistency, and kindness.

A few other favorite pieces by Gawandi – 

Big Med – a fantastic New Yorker piece about why hospitals should be more like The Cheesecake Factory…
Being Mortal – an absolute must read, beautiful book about how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending…

+ + + + + + + +

A few food-related current favorites:


Mycelium Inspiration + Update

Below are a few images of inspiration for the ‘mycelium as luxury material’ project that I am working on with Pam.

Jesmonite | Unique | UK tumblr_nj7dt6KojJ1un2yv9o1_1280 tumblr_nj7ebn5f2L1un2yv9o1_1280 fd0030_s70_408 copy tumblr_nj7dwt7gfE1un2yv9o1_1280


Also – my trials from the first week of class are out of their molds and drying. The tin molds seemed to work well, although they are prone to warping during the drying process. I have found success in placing the mycelium bricks on a baking rack and weighting it down with rocks to ensure it remains flat.

IMG_1309 copy

IMG_1307 copy


A few notes from class of resources and books to check out –

  • Suzanne Simard’s fabulous TED Talk about the networked beauty of forests (and mycelium!)
  • Naming Nature: The Clash Between Instinct and Science by Carol Kaesuk Yoon, or check out her shorter NYTimes piece
  • Beyond Nature and Culture by Philippe Descola
  • Complexity: A Guided Tour by Melanie Mitchell



Fungus: Interconnections & Inspirations

Mycellium Running has been sitting on my bookshelf for many years, and it’s been a joy to revisit it. In reading the first several chapters, I was struck by how little we know about this incredible kingdom of organisms. So much of what I’ve been exploring lately has focused on a conceptual discussion of networks and mesh-like connections between things (ie. Bennett’s Vibrant Matter), and it was especially exciting to explore an example of this in physical form. I am especially fascinated by the cellular intelligence of fungus, and curious to explore this idea further. The element of time has consistently remained in the back of my mind since beginning this class, and how the timelines under which humans operate are so vastly different than that of fungus. In thinking about fungus, seems to return to time…

But in many ways it is also the most satisfying part of this process…and vastly different from so many of the subjects we engage in today. In the Form and Fungus piece from the New Yorker, I loved that the mycologist asked the mushrooms to reveal themselves to her. And there’s something to that in this field – about listening to intuition, and about recognizing an interconnectedness to this wise and ancient organism–it’s something that we can’t simply figure out in a few clicks or a slick line of code. Intuition, observation, and dedication are required.


Ben and I talked about working together on a project, at least for the research component of this class. We talked briefly about focusing on death as a theme, a topic around which there are already incredible works (the Mushroom Death Suit, Corpuscoli’s Bodies of Change), but there remains enormous room for exploration. More specifically I am eager to explore the cyclical, transformational process from death to rebirth and back to death death. And within this cycle, I am curious to explore the relationship between fungus  of other living organisms – plants, animals, people..


This Weeks Fungus Inspiration –



First Attempt at Food System Interventions

Idea #1 (micro) – A field guide for food in the climate crisis.

I think one of the biggest problems within our current food system is the separation that has been created between producers and consumers, and my first idea is a light-hearted attempt at bridging this gap while also drawing sharp attention to the connection between climate change and the food we eat. In considering this convergence of wicked problems, a project that is approachable, playful and useful could be quite successful. In the style of a wilderness survival guide, it would have illustrated diagrams explaining the plants and animals that have been effected by climate change, resources for making climate-conscious choices today (such as grocery store label decoding), and also how-to procedures (like urban foraging, or how to plant seeds). With a bit of an apocalyptic undertone, it would be both a commentary and an informative resource for these enormous problems.

Idea #2 (macro) – A farm-to-market live video feed

My second, more large-scale idea focuses on providing grocery store shoppers with data about where their food is coming from. There are two elements of this idea, each side with a bit different angle from artistic to business. I have always been fascinating with understanding how food grows, and more specifically what it looks like while it’s growing. This is something that has given me a much stronger understanding of my food, and ultimately has lead me to make choices based on this knowledge. I think it would be incredible to create a video between supermarkets and growers, with monitors showing the actual farm where fruit or vegetables were produced. Or perhaps if not monitors, then a code to scan that would pull up the video feed on someone’s smart phone. I realize that this is not very realistic for installing in an actual grocery store, but even a pop-up market installation would be exciting. Cameras are already being used all over farms (granted, probably not the farms that would like to be part of this…), and I think there are enormous opportunities in connecting people with their food by providing a visual connection.


The Fungus Among Us

I have long been interested in fungi, having first read through Paul Stamet’s book Mycelium Running maybe 6 years ago. At the time I was studying architecture, and one of my professors was working on researching sustainable building materials. With her, I did a bit of research about the possibility of using mycelium for fabrication building materials, but the barrier of entry was just beyond us at the time. Plus, she was making quicker progress using other materials. During that time, I sought out local mycologists, but everyone I talked to was primarily focused on cultivating edible mushrooms, which perhaps was simply because Colorado does not have the foraging environment of the pacific northwest and elsewhere. Although I learned a lot about the general process, nearly all of my attempts at growing anything were a bust. Around the same time, my roommates and I also attempted grow psilocybin mushrooms…also (probably fortunately) a bust. Despite moving away from architecture, this interest in researching and developing sustainable materials is again at the forefront of my current research, as will be the primary focus of my upcoming ITP thesis project.

In addition to exploring mycelium as a potential fabrication material, I am most interested in pursuing a project for this class that focuses on mycorestoration. Back in Colorado, I did a lot of high-altitude permaculture design work and have recently been more actively working on developing a permaculture practice in New York – seeking out a community and additional resources for addressing the hyper-urban landscape here. As part of this, I am especially interested in how mycelium can be used to filter water and strengthening soil. Depending on the realities (space, mostly) of a mycorestoration project for this class, I am also very interested in exploring something around the medicinal properties of mycelium.

So excited to get started with this class – I started tumblr with some visual inspiration. Below is a photo from about 4 years ago (my second ever Instagram pic!), when I got to spend the day learning about cultivating gourmet mushrooms in Colorado.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 10.00.27 PM


A very rough sketch of an idea for this class – no idea if it’s even possible…



For my Live Web final project, I am working on designing a mirror ‘photo-booth’ that instantly posts content to the web. My hope in designing the interaction around a mirror rather than a screen or camera, is that the moment that is captured will be more expressive or unaffected than the typical selfie. I am particularly interested in how the images will begin to tell a story over time, and how the piece will be utilized in a public space.



how it will work:
switch/button/remote takes a picture
save picture to the server
broadcast to web pages
users can download photos/gifs from the site to share elsewhere

to hide the technology (photo-taking interaction is computer/camera free)
the story comes from long-term use/installation of this
photos are easily sharable via the web

– this fun animated gif photobooth
– a portrait lotta, 14 years in 4 minutes


SHAKE IT – WebSockets + Mobile

For this week’s Live Web assignment, I explored mobile sensor data and sending it over web sockets. The idea was simple: shake your phone as fast as you can – what’s the highest value you can get?

Currently my code is set up with a ‘mobile’ page and a ‘web’ page – perhaps I could integrate these two and have the browser detect what kind of device is connected. The mobile page displays a value with your current accelerometer value and also the highest score that has been reached. The web page displays only the highest score that’s been reached. I was especially interested in how you could have multiple people generate a high-score together, but I’ve had trouble getting this to work right. See the code on github.


ShakeIt_DIAGRAM mobile_test

Narrate The Film

In extending this week’s assignment in Live Web, I was inspired by the conversation we had in another class about the invention of synchronized sound in film and how this technical advancement changed the way people interpreted and believed the things they saw on the screen. We discussed early silent films like Nanook of the North, which was considered the first full length documentary and came out of an explorer tradition. Rather than saying “this is what it’s like to be them,” the filmmaker’s aim was to simply show “this is who they are.” But it understanding this, is essential to consider how our own experiences and biases determine what we believe about something and ultimately, whether or not we believe it to be true.  Especially today when anything can be photoshopped and manipulated in post-production, it is important to understand why we believe the things we do and the various factors at play when we formulate these beliefs.

For this week’s assignment, I was inspired by a discussion about First Contact, a film by a group of Australian gold miners land on Papua New Guinea and make the first white contact with aboriginal tribes. In the 1960s, the footage was found by a group of filmmakers who tracked down one of the subjects of the film to narrate the movie and provide thoughts and reflections from the indigenous perspective. First Contact offers a perspective that is often missing from these kinds of films – rather than some David Attenborough-esque voice narrating the indigenous people’s behaviors, it offers something more true.

The most memorable part of First Contact for me was from one of the subjects interviewed in the film, who had been very young at the time of the footage. He describes that it is a tradition of the people of Papua New Guinea to throw the ashes of their deceased into the river, so when the white arrived and began panning for gold, the indigenous people believed they were searching for the dead. I thought this was such a profound and significant thing to understand about how these two peoples interpreted the other – and how this story would have been lost or massively skewed if it had been told by some western narrator.

Extending this idea into my Live Web homework, I was curious about how the narration over a film can completely change the story. Could you make someone believe something completely unrealistic? How would you describe strange behaviors of other people? How do your own biases and experiences come into play?


Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 11.11.39 AM


To create this project, I used recorder.js and socket.io to record audio and then broadcast this recording to everyone connected. Should I continue further with this assignment, I would find a better way to sync up the video and the audio during playback.


Renatured P3 Inspiration

Renatured Project 3 – Inspirations, Resources, and more…



Some results of our initial survey …




Plastic Luxury

My task in this project was to develop a luxury item that could be produced on a Maker-Bot 3D Printer.  For me there were two fundamental challenges in this prompt:  First, the confinement to cheap plastic (PLA) as my material.  What is an item that symbolizes luxury and  wants to be made from plastic?  And second, to embrace the mass-produceable yet customizable nature the Maker-Bot. Could I create an item that could vary from one to the next?  Could I add value to the concept by making each piece unique?  Given these constraints, I felt compelled to focus on lifestyle expressions of wealth and the objects through which luxury is conveyed.  The resulting project is a a collection of 3D printed fingernails that explore nail art both as both a symbol of luxury and a means of cultural and personal expression.  My focus thus far has been on the 3D printing side of this project, playful experiments with the different physical forms that I can create.  I am continuing to develop different designs, and eagerly collecting feedback and responses about the pieces.  An important next step is to begin exploring various decorative elements.


nails_web all_web IMG_8990_16x9 IMG_8979_16x9 IMG_8982_web

The nails are all printed in PLA using a Maker-Bot Replicator 2. I used Maya and Rhino to design the 3D models. Here are a few images of my process –

nail_progress_rhino01 nail_progress_makerbot01 nail_progress_printing01 nail_progress_printing02 nail_progress_finishing05 nail_progress_finishing07
IMG_2886 copy_CLOSE

Breathing LED | Circuit Design Project


breathing_schematic copy_NAMED

Surface Mount Board

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 11.02.02 PM


Bill of Materials

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 2.08.42 PM


Milling – although the copper plate seemed flat in the bed of the router, I had some problems with the bit depth. Luckily, I milled enough boards to have several that were usable.



Surface mount soldering, before and after.

IMG_4868_TWO copy


The final board worked, but did not have the glowing effect that I was hoping for :(

IMG_4899 IMG_4898_cropped


So, I determined what needed to change in my circuit – the values of the capacitors and one of the resistors were too low. Unfortunately, we did not have a surface mount component that was large enough, so I decided to just use the through-hole part and create holes in the board for it. Because the capacitor I was using was so large, I decided to cut my board into a circle so that the two would fit well together.



Really make-shift, but it works!

IMG_2886 copy_CLOSE IMG_2888 copy_TWO IMG_2892_CROP


Next steps include finding smaller components, creating a casing, and figuring out a better way to power the board in order to make it into a modular piece. My intention is to create many of these that could fit together!



Don’t Panic.

In collaboration with Kristina Budelis, Brian Clifton & Pedro Galvao

How can we make the effects of the climate crisis feel more urgent and imaginable?

Rising sea levels brought on by climate change pose serious threats to coastal communities and natural resources worldwide. In New York, relative sea level rise is historically greater than the global average, and over half of New Yorkers currently live in marine coastal counties. With a rapid ice melt scenario, sea levels could rise over 4 feet in coastline NYC by the 2080s. By making such projections more visible on our urban landscape, we hope to provoke discussion.

We were inspired by this interactive map: Surging Seas. Later, it was used to determine where we would install our materials. Also we used this report from the Department of Environmental Conservation report as a reference.

We hope the piece will make the effects of climate change—which often seem so distant and abstract—more concrete and imaginable on our shared urban coastline by amplifying projections of sea level rise.

We created water level markers in increments of 40 years that we posted on the sides of buildings located in areas that will be affected as the sea level rises. We intentionally created the markers at a dramatic scale in order to amplify their effect. Adjacent to the markers, we placed a red emergency box that contained a lifejacket and a large label that read “IN CASE OF EMERGENCY BREAK GLASS.” We also had a plaque that outlined a “Sea Level Rise Survival Plan.”

renatured_p2 renatured_p2 IMG_2704_2



Dumbo1 dumbo Dumbo4



bushwick IMG_2758 IMG_2763


We began the project with the intention of creating a Public Service Announcement -style graphic that would speak to different audiences, and address different issues depending on the scenarios they appeared in. We wanted to amplify the logical conclusions of how people could meaningfully slow climate change (ie. instead of buying CFL bulbs, prevent the industries that are dramatically producing pollution from further damaging the environment).

Since our scope and audience were both so broad, we decided to focus in on one issue with a specific audience: the projected rising water levels, and the people pass through the zones that will be underwater. Our approach was to create official-looking signage demarcating where the sea-level will be in 40 year intervals over the next 200 years, and include an encased lifejacket mounted next to the markers.

Because our markers and lifejacket needed to be affixed to the side of the building, our mounting methods had to be easily removeable. This prevented us from leaving the materials mounted for periods of time long enough for large number of people to engage with them.

We were successful in creating an official-looking series of materials, that when mounted upon a wall, conveyed a sense of authority.

People were shocked and amazed by the prospect of the rising water level to these points, asking if it was true, and reflecting on the ideas visualized by the markers. We decided to make the materials easily removable so we could place them in different areas, and also avoid issues of permanently altering the facade of a building. It would have been nice to find a way where we could semi-permanently mount our materials to the side of a building in order to examine how people engage with it over time. What we were unable to see was how our project could become a fixture in the people’s lives who would see it every day. How their reaction to the message might change over time, and without our presence nearby.

Our decision to make the materials easily removable, could be addressed by impersonating official city workers when installing, by adding small graphical elements to indicate references to ordinance numbers, and by using materials that mimic official signage.




“Shoplifting” & Defining Luxury

This week in 3D Printing Luxury, we were were asked to “shoplift” luxury items around the city, capturing these items using 123D Catch, a 3D scanning app by Autodesk. I wandered around Soho for a bit, attempting to capture the most expensive item I could find. But between the crowds of people and eager store employees, I found it extremely challenging to take enough quality from which to generate a 3D model. More importantly, I spent a lot of time thinking about what luxury means for me, and where my designs might fall within the umbrella of luxury. Although I follow trends and find amusement in their ephemeral cycle, Fashion has never been the epitome of luxury for me. I suppose one could argue that there is a timelessness in fashion, and certainly a coat or a watch could last a lifetime, but how often is this truly the case?

Beyond fashion, it is funny to think about the number of expensive, collector items that are kept in storage – art for example. Rather than displaying or installing works, art collectors keep countless pieces locked away, ensuring that they do not diminish in value. It is a strange model I suppose, but easier for me to understand than the model that so many modern consumers subscribe to, which is to collect endless amounts of stuff, regardless of the value. I guess there is a separation between really really high end items and luxury items that are still accessible to a broader population; in terms of this class, especially, I am more interested in the latter.

Especially in today’s fast fashion market where so much is thrown away, fashion, for me, will never be the embodiment of luxury. Perhaps a better way to think about this would be in terms of value as a determinant of luxury, and I happen to find enormous value not only in the craft and materiality of a thing, but also in it’s function. I think a luxury item is something that one should be proud not only to display but also to use. All the qualities that make it luxurious – cost, rarity, materiality – are diminished for me when that item exists, primarily, in a closet, drawer, or chest. When I think of the items in my own life that I would consider to be luxury, most are things I use and enjoy everyday, or they are things that only exist in memory, as they have been used or consumed (I am thinking of expensive bottles of wine, coffee, teas…).

As I became clear about my own perception of luxury, and generally overwhelmed by the Soho experience, I decided to visit the store in the city that exemplifies luxury for me: ABC Carpet & Home. Also, I found it much easier to take 30+ pictures of a single item without generating unwanted attention or interest from store employees or other shoppers. Unfortunately, many of my models did not turn out as clean as I was hoping, but they were better overall than the ones I took in Soho. The most valuable part of this week’s exercise for me was in coming to understand what luxury means for me, and thinking about the kind of products I would be proud to put into the world, products that I feel have a value that extends beyond luxury as a label.

A lot of my models didn’t really work. From left to right, these are: Ceramic cup ($55), Italian vase ($7495), and a Decorative Bowl ($395) –




But one of my captures worked really well, and it was also the second most expensive thing I attempted, $5500! Here is the model –





Midterm Proposal: A Live-Video-Sharing Durational Experiment


In exploring the web as a platform of asynchronous communication as well as media posting and sharing, I have found myself wondering, constantly, about the experience of living in public and being always on. In addition to class discussions and exercises, my curiosity in this topic has also sprung from reading Dave Egger’s The Circle. Central to Egger’s eerily plausible story are issues of privacy, as well as control or ownership over personal information. I have felt both excited and shocked by the technologies and sharing practices discussed in The Circle, but overall I have been unsure about where I stand because it is difficult to put myself in the position of the protagonist. Not in terms of imagining and even using these technologies – that is surprisingly easy – but the experience, the feeling, of being constantly visible is much more difficult to grasp. The idea for my midterm project has come from wondering about this exposure: what is this experience of living in public? As sharing tools become more ubiquitous, how does our experience change? How will we change?  If someone can find out where I am at any moment – would they? If they could watch me, whenever they want – will they? Will my behavior change if I know someone might be watching? Feeling unsure about my stance about privacy, surveillance, and personal information, I felt it would be insightful to engage in an experiment of living more publicly. In exploring these questions, I am most interested in the personal experience and how it feels. Better understanding the personal experience of living in public is an essential first step for me in continuing to work in this realm.

Further, I am curious about how the conflicting fear surrounding privacy and personal data, and the desire to share every moment of our lives. If the goal is to share, then video offers a far more genuine experience than text. Posting “had a rough day” is disconnected, and far less transparent than a live video feed, which offers a window into the human experience of that moment. Live video offers a vulnerability that, so far, has been largely absent from sharing on the web. I’m curious about how it would feel to incorporate this element – both for the person sharing (me) and for whoever was watching. There is an obvious vuyeristic quality to this project, and I’m curious about how this will be interpreted.

HOW IT WILL WORK: A durational live-web-video-sharing experiment that will run from October 21st  to October 28th. Anytime my computer is on, the built-in camera will also be on, streaming my image to a web page (there will not be any audio). Anyone can log in and watch me, but the communication is one way. I will not know when someone logs in to watch, which is an important element of this project for me. When I am away from the computer, I want a clock to start, timing how long it has been since I was online.

So far I have imagined this project as a one-way window, but I am curious what other’s think of this. Should there be a way to provide feedback? To tell me you’re watching? If so, one idea I had was to set up a viewing ‘station’, where someone might type messages to me, in addition to viewing my live-streaming video. It would be anonymous for them though, I wouldn’t know who I am talking to.

Lastly, on the technical side, I am not sure the best way to set up the stream in a way that makes it easy for me to turn on when I get on my computer, and also how to notify me if it goes out…


Renatured | Reading Response 3

The persistent discussion throughout this collection of readings was of the misguided conception that humans are the most important beings on earth, and the importance of changing this model both in thinking and in practice. This human-centered framework has been overwhelmingly limiting, and left us in a full blown environmental crisis, but one that will never change unless we dramatically alter our role within this larger system. Beyond proposing ideological shifts, I appreciated that this collection of readings attempted to provide more specific methods and techniques for initiating this shift and inspiring action.

Nathan Waterhouse explained it quite well: “although we don’t believe earth is the center of the universe, we still behave as if humans are the most important species alive today.” His discussion focused on the role of the designer, and the opportunities when we consider the larger system in which we belong. Although he acknowledged that design is “a very insecure discipline” I felt like his suggestions were overly optimistic and far too simplified considering the scope of this discussion. “What about the rights of nature, other creatures, or the planet itself?” While I appreciate the question, I am skeptical of design as our end-all-be-all solution – the designer as the savior. I worked as a designer for a long time, and the reason I moved away from it was because I felt overwhelmingly limited in the capacity for meaningful change. And ultimately, the scale of reach was determined by much larger systems at play, both social and economic. My doubt may just be a semantic one, about what design might be extended to include. Or it was the ‘What Can We Do About It’ list at the end of the article that left me dubious – better to have left the list off completely, in my opinion.

Donella Meadow’s article offered what Waterhouse’s was missing – a much broader perspective that considers the complex systems at play and the forces that are driving them. Understanding leverage points is powerful, as a small shift in one thing can produce dramatic changes across the board. Among the points of leverage, one that stood out for me was the idea of missing feedback as a common cause of system malfunction and the importance of information access. Providing a meter for someone to visually understand how much heat their using is so simple and effective. Above all, the most powerful opportunity for real change lies in the suggestion to detach, to let go, to transcend paradigms. To me this feels overwhelming in many ways, but also extremely encouraging – perhaps the most encouraging thought for me in this week’s readings.

Elizabeth Kolbert’s discussion of the Anthropocene was a warning to the world about the staggering changes that humans have already set in motion. The chilling details about what human impacts presented in terms of geological record were really significant for me, as was the discussion about human practice and farming especially. Agricultural practices have been slowly changing the world for thousands of years, and it is only because of the recent population explosion that everything has accelerated. It can be difficult to conceptualize the long term view, but Kolbert’s connection to human practices over time was extremely insightful (and shocking). Realizing that it is not our cities, but our agricultural practices that has impacted the geological record the most is staggering. And, understanding that the most profound changes to the planet are almost entirely invisible offers an even greater challenge. Is it possible to illustrate that this is a real threat? That our existence is at risk? And how to express the scale of this invisible thing? “We will only make changes when we perceive the real threat to our way of life, our existence…”

Human practices must shift, and our future depends on the ability to see ourselves as part of a larger whole. I guess that brings us back to paradigm shift.…it is an enormous, overwhelming, impossible challenge, but not without hope. Last week, Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter was especially fascinating for me in terms of thinking about humans vs. non-humans and the relationships between all things, and this week I was struck by Georgio Agamben’s perspective in The Open. We understand the environment or world that a living thing exists in is in terms of OUR world, the human world. But we do not share the same time and space as other living beings, there does not exist an objectively fixed environment in which we all exist. “There does not exist a forest as an objectively fixed environment: there exists a forest-for-the-park-ranger, a forest-for-the-hunter, a forest-for-the-botanist, a forest-for-the-wayfarer, a forest-for-the-nature-lover…” For me this added to Bennett’s perspective, and enhanced it, particularly in terms of the visual model it suggests. I’m still thinking about Queer Ecology, and a bit unsure about my perspective with it. What I do appreciate is Morton’s piece is is the importance of acknowledging the differences in all things, rather than the sameness. I don’t doubt the merit in a way to think about a ecology and what it means to be human, continued thinking about, modeling and re-modeling will only get us so far. In creating projects and continuing to develop my own understanding of Renatured, I am eager to move beyond such philosophical discussions and look instead at the realities of this thinking in practice…


Elizabeth Kolbert, Enter the Anthropocene, Making the Geologic Now (2012) (LINK)
Nathan Waterhouse, The Future of Human Centered Design (2013) (LINK)
Georgio Agamben, The Open, Umwelt (2003) (PDF)
Timothy Morton : Queer Ecology (2010) (PDF)
Donella Meadows, Leverage Points in a System (LINK)


Acid Etching & Soldering

Here are some images from my first experience with acid etching!

My paneled circuit, printed and ready to transfer to the copper board.



Using the laminator to attach the transfer paper to the PCB board.



Water bath.



I had great results with the transfer. I cut the board down before moving on to the acid.



Drilling holes for my through-hole parts.



Through holes done, ready to etch.



Acid bath. I cut my board down since I didn’t need all 6 boards.



Really happy with the results, I ended up with 3 really clean etched boards!



And lastly, populating the board – soldering my components.



Not the most beautiful soldering I’ve ever done, it took a bit of getting used to the way the solder flowed onto the etched board. Everything works perfectly though!





Broken-Hearted Trash

In collaboration with Brian Clifton & Pedro Galvao


After exploring subjects that were ‘obviously nature’ (plants, food, pigeon droppings) and those that are ‘not obviously nature’ (plastic waste), the aspect we decided to focus on for our first public intervention project was the relationship between people and their refuse.

In exploring the possible subjects for this project, we considered both elements that were obviously nature like plants, food, and pigeon droppings, and also those that are not obviously nature, such as plastic waste. We also discussed the various ways in which we might employ amplification and found many of our conversations returning to the interest in amplifying the idea surrounding something. We were motivated by discussions about the contextual value of something, and how worth might be assigned based on what something is called or because of its relationships to other elements. Furthermore, our intention was to address the wastefulness of compulsive consumption and the transience of product life cycles as they exist in the modern world. Consider a plastic fork for example: it’s entire existence dependent on the moment when it is used by a person. As a meaningless piece of garbage, it sits on a shelf or in a box, waiting for that brief moment of ‘usefulness’ which exists sometime between the time of it’s conception and the time it is disposed of, after which it is formally realized as garbage.

Ultimately we decided to focus on the relationship between people and their refuse, and developed a project that would attempt to amplify the emotional relationship that might exist between the two.

Drawing attention to the beauty of the unwanted is nothing new, actually is an artistic tradition that can be seen more and more applied in several works and medias. Such as the contemporary pieces from the photographer and Sculptor Vik Muniz or the japanese artist Hiroshi Fuji. Most of his art, however, focus primarily in two points: either the “form”, the idea that “discarded” presents interesting shapes and texture that could be used as basic matter;  or the “unknown”, the fact that the refuse inherit a backstory that triggers curiosity. The intention of this intervention in the other hand, was to pay particular attention to the content, to initiate a conversation and instigate curiosity about the subject itself – the waste.

What if a landfill was an assemblage of broken hearts? What if every piece of garbage was a memory? In an emotional fallout between a person and their trash, what would be the reaction? And, if trash could get back at the person who threw it away, what would it say? These questions provided a world in which we might amplify this notion of the emotional relationship between a person and their trash.

Our idea was simple. A staged emotional fallout as told by the ones who bore the brunt of emotional abuse in the relationship: the broken-hearted garbage cast out of the home and onto the street. To visualize this, we asked our peers to write short proclamations they’ve uttered during a breakup, or things they imagine they might say. We then cut those messages out of adhesive-backed vinyl, and on the evening before refuse collection, we applied them to an enormous pile of trash bags other discarded items. Located on Waverly St between Broadway and Greene St, the audience for this intervention included the many bystanders and passers-by, all witnesses of this ‘emotionally’ difficult time for the garbage. In the form of written messages, the trash publicly expressed feelings of sadness, anger, and heartbreak to its former lovers.

15074946210_43db5e92c2_k 15075071910_b6a6495f78_k 15075001378_4d44298d32_k 15074839909_5c1f75a73f_k 15075116387_51e39ce898_k 15075094467_f96a306a10_k 15238654426_ad4ac89b55_k 15075071958_c830a5e33c_k

First Board

This week in Circuit Design I worked on designing my first through-hole PCB board which I then acid etched and populated. The circuit I have been working on is a simple 555 LED Flasher. Below are some images of my progress. The whole process has been a bit time consuming, but overall went really smoothly!

Here is the schematic that I started my board from, I made a few tweaks from my version from last week. In particular, I added the correct footprint for the particular 16mm potentiometer I am using. This took some time to figure out, but was easy overall.

Next I created a board from my schematic.  I was having trouble getting the ground plane to fill the entire area around the board rather than leaving a gap on the right side as you can see below. I tried several times by drawing a larger square with the polygon tool around my board but couldn’t seem to fix it. So, I just decided to use Photoshop after exporting the board from Eagle. Designing the board is certainly more involved than drawing up a schematic, it’s like a puzzle of sorts, which I love.



Here is an image of my board artwork, after cropping off the sides and fixing the gap in the ground plane that was on the right side. I easily fixed this in Photoshop since I couldn’t get it sorted out in Eagle, and I did not want to go back too many steps and or loose too much of my work. Overall it worked great though!

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 2.59.43 PM


Then I arranged 6 boards into a 4×6 area, the dimension of our PCB boards. I printed this out for reference, and checked the layout and distance between the pins of all the components I’ll be using.



Then I acid etched the board 

See the finished product 



Thoughts on the Future of the Web

Check out my Week 1 Homework, or view the code on Github

Following are my thoughts in response to Rush Holt’s 2012 article in Wired, Living on a Stream: The Rise of Real-Time Video. In the article, Holt projects that “more and more of what we see will be seen as it happens,” and discusses his opinion about the future of video consumption.

Within a decade, will more than half of all the videos we watch be live?

Both in reading Living on a Stream and reflecting on our discussion in class last week, I continue to find myself returning to the issue of content. In the article, Holt speculates that we may reach a point where viewers won’t settle for anything except live programming of a high production value, and I absolutely agree with this. As more and more media content becomes available online, the more imperative it becomes for that content to be quality, because anything less will be ignored. This demand for quality content is a really positive thing overall, but it is also what makes me question the reality of Holt’s forecast. He acknowledges two necessary developments that will need to occur – a real time video search engine and the need for an editor / producer – and although these would certainly partially solve this issue of quality content, I can’t help but be skeptical of his projected timeline. I do think that eventually Holt could be right, but I cannot imagine this occurring within the next eight years. The movie industry functions on a well-established model of big budgets and looooong production timelines, it will take more than a decade for this to change. And think of all of the quality content that already exists! Decades of incredible media content just a click away – will live streaming replace the interest to continue to enjoy this enormous pool of existing content? I don’t think so, not anytime soon.

That being said, there is also another side of this debate that I am encouraged by and firmly stand behind: the future of streamed video content as a cultural chronicle and a powerful storytelling technique.


Getting Started with Circuit Design

The first week of Circuit Design has been all about familiarizing ourselves with the tools and technologies we’ll be using in the class, and selecting a circuit to build over the next few weeks. As with most things, success in building circuits comes from practice – a LOT of practice! From reading schematics and selecting components to designing and finally assembling a circuit, the process is one that is best learned through doing. I took Basic Analog Circuits with Eric Rosenthal last semester, and am grateful to be entering this course with a semester’s worth of experience and practice with building circuits. Circuit Design is the exciting next step that will allow me to take my projects to a much higher level by providing the means to take control over the design and fabrication of my circuits.

During our first class, Michelle talked a lot about craft as an essential element of circuit design. I believe that craft is intrinsically tied to the success of any project – whether you are building a box, writing a story, even taking a photo – the care with which way you approach, execute, and finally present your work is all evident in the quality of the final piece. With physical things especially, I have little patience for poor craft or a lack of attention, and I am very excited for a course where quality craft is not optional. And, I think we all can agree that these circuits are incredibly beautiful under a microscope.

555flasher_drawing IMG_44641

After memorizing and drawing out my circuit several times, I created a schematic of the circuit in Eagle CAD.


And I also tested the circuit on a breadboard to ensure that it worked.



Here’s a video of my circuit working



Windows: Technical Design

CLICK HERE for a pdf of my updated presentation and design plan.


The actual implementation of this piece will consist of 3 panels. In terms of installation, equipment and programming constraints, this design is feasible and will allow me to user test the experience before incorporating additional panels and building the whole thing larger. Because of the dim lighting in the space, I will be using a Kinect to track people’s movement around the piece.


Airport Design

In addition to finishing our final projects, this week we were tasked with developing an idea for a spatial media project in an airport. From an architectural perspective, airports are extremely complex spaces and are filled with all kinds of information, both explicit and implicit. I spent a lot of time studying airport design in undergrad, looking at historical precedents and considering the various essential design elements and how these might be improved upon.

I think it is necessary to recognize Eero Saarinen and his outstanding contributions to modern airport design in both the Washington Dulles International Airport, and the TWA Terminal at JFK. Both airport designs have been regarded for their graceful beauty and elegant suggestion of flight, the TWA in particular features an emblematic construction, with its shape suggestive of a bird. I love Saarinen’s work, these two examples especially.

“We wanted passengers passing through the building to experience a fully-designed environment in which each part arises from another and everything belongs to the same formal world.” -Eero Saarinen


Screen-Shot-2014-04-30-at-9.10.49-AMPhoto by Ezra Stoller of the TWA Terminal at Idlewild (now JFK) Airport designed by Eero Saarinen (New York, NY, 1962)

TWA_interior2Interior of Saarinen’s TWA Terminal.

dullesinternationallgWashington Dulles International Airport designed by Eero Saarinen.

tumblr_l4w0evdUk91qbkm1io1_1280Interior at Saarinen’s Dulles Airport.



Testing Screen Materials

I experimented with projecting onto several different kinds of films. The rear projection holographic film was my favorite, as it remained translucent while also displaying a crisp image. Unfortunately it only had the effect I was looking for when viewed from the front.


The films did not quite have the effect I was hoping for, although they were interesting to experiment with. Overall the middle one was my favorite, the holographic rear projection film. I could imagine using these kinds of films in a range of different applications, but for this project it was not what I was looking for.

Fortunately, while wandering around the art supply store this week, I discovered a plastic mesh material used for building silk screens. I was intrigued by the silky translucent quality of it, so I bought a scrap to try projecting onto. It has the transparent quality I was hoping for and also the plastic mesh material creates a really surprising shiny reflective effect that adds a lot to the experience. Overall the results with this material were exactly what I was looking for, and to top it off, the material is affordable! Most importantly, it works in a range of lighting conditions and allows the projection to carry through multiple layers.

mesh4 mesh2 mesh3 mesh

A chance discovery and I’m really excited about the results! I am working on determining the best way to build a frame, at the very least the material needs structure for the top, a rod of sorts. It is also susceptible to creasing which is something I need to be careful about as I begin to build final versions.

Stay tuned!




HIVE: An Interactive Bee Box



We received great feedback this morning when we presented our Spatial Media midterm project, Hive. Many long days and late nights paid off! There were several other excellent projects presented in class this morning, it was really exciting to see how everyone’s projects turned out.

Also, we will have a video up soon, but for now, here’s some details about the project:

How it works:

  • Using OpenFrameworks with ofxOpenCV and ofxKinect, we wrote a program that uses the XBox Kinect’s infrared camera to interpret hand movement in the area above our bee box.
  • We worked off of a few examples from Dan Shiffman’s Nature of Code, and we wrote a Bee class that was  used to create many bee objects.
  • To identify a user’s hand, we used the contourFinder to detect blobs, and we calculated hand movement based on the blob’s centroid position between two frames.
  • When a person’s movement is fast, the bees feel threatened and they will be repelled from the user’s hand. When movement is slow, however, they are attracted to the user’s hand and will continue to follow the hand as long as it’s movement remains slow.
  • On the physical fabrication side, we built three stackable wooden bee boxes using the CNC machine in the shop at ITP. Into the box that would be stacked on top, we built a ledge to hold our screen, which was simply a piece of clear 1/8″ acrylic covered with a mylar film. A string of LED lights was incorporated into the middle box to eliminate a hand shadows on the screen, it also produced a beautiful under-glow effect at the base of the boxes.

Lessons & Challenges:

  • Calibration between the projector, the Kinect and the computer was tricky. Luckily we learned a way to mask off everything that was outside of our bee box, which successfully allowed us to reduce the amount of noise we were recieving from the kinect Kinect. Find our code on github [link coming soon].
  • Creating bee objects with life-like movement was also very challenging, and it is something that I hope to continue to fine tune.

Created in collaboration with Alina Balean


Let’s Talk About Donald Norman

This weeks reading assignment for Physical Computing included excerpts from two of Donald A. Norman’s books: The Design of Everyday Things and Emotional Design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things. Both of Norman’s books are excellent, a must-read for the designer/maker. I recently finished Emotional Design for a reading assignment in Applications, click to see my reading response and please share your ideas!


In contrast to his first book, the design approach that Norman presents in Emotional Design is playful and human, and ultimately it allows the designer more room to be truly innovative. The video below is a great supplement to the readings (I also enjoyed seeing and hearing Norman himself, after reading his books).



Lab: Transistors
 // instructions here

IMG_0503Using a transistor to control a motor  with a switch.

Attempt #2 of transistors lab and everything went smoothly. Understanding the function of a transistor and the way it can change voltage around the circuit allowed me to set up the lab without any problems. In this particular lab, the breadboard is setup in such a way that one side is receiving 9V, and the other is receiving only 5V (due to the placement of the transistor). The don’t think my first circuit worked because the power was incorrectly coming into the breadboard in consideration to the transistor (also, I think I made the rookie mistake of not carefully reading my components!). 

Working with Transistors from coloringchaos on Vimeo.

Plagiarism & Creativity

RE: a) Jonathan Lethem’s The Ecstacy of Influence: A Plagiarism; b) On the Rights of the Molotov Man: Appropriation and the Art of Context; c) Allergy to Originality and d) Kirby Ferguson’s Embrace the Remix

Together, these four pieces present the artist–or anyone working in a creative field–with a compelling challenge.
1. Find Inspiration – look to society, culture, history…
2. Create Meaningful work (meaningful work = valuable work)
3. Share Your Work = Collaborate  + Give + Join the Commons
4. Remix & Collage – be truly creative…
*And remember: DON’T PLAGIARIZE  😉

Many of the most outstanding creative works, especially in recent years, are ones that seek to understand or examine the complexities of modern society. Inspired by the every-day, works of this nature are significant because of their ability to establish connections, encourage communication, or facilitate understanding. Jonathan Lethem asks us to consider the “ample value that the term property doesn’t capture,” and suggests that beyond it’s worth as a commodity, artwork has a more important, intangible value. “Art that matters to us–which moves the heart, or revives the soul, or delights the sense, or offers courage for living, however we choose to describe the evidences–is received as a gift is received” (Lethem).

Inspiration might come from anywhere–from pop-culture, or history, and perhaps the form of a valuable gift, as Lethem describes–let us celebrate rather than stifle it!

Over time, copyright law has evolved into something that has unfortunately strayed from Thomas Jefferson’s original purpose “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.” The appropriation of the Molotov Man  highlights the issues surrounding copyright infringement, and offers two very different opinions about the intangibility of intellectual property. I find myself on the side of Joy Garnett. The artist’s intention was to capture the emotional experience of conflict, in a way that went beyond a particular time or place. This meaning is compromised by Susan Meiselas’ demand for credit, as her painting was intentionally left void of time and place. Ultimately, what Garnett created was entirely different than the original (and her painting in no way touched the original). Agreeing with Meiselas would be to limit the ‘collective public imagination.’ Lethem reminds us that in this struggle of appropriation, “whether the monopolizing beneficiary is the living artist or some artist’s heirs or some corporation’s shareholders, the loser is the community, including living artists who might make splendid use of a healthy public domain.”

A brilliant creative work does not simply manifest from nothing. As humans, we are defined by our consciousness, imagination, and memory – a sort of collage, stitched, quilted, pastiched. Life is a remix of unique experiences, who has the right to suppress these inspirations?

The conception of plagiarism–as it is typically drilled into the minds of grade-school kids–is extremely complex, especially regarding ideas and intellectual property. But today, as a more knowledgable and discerning individual, I am joining the ranks of those who believe that true creativity often means stealing someone else’s ideas.