Idea For Interactive Piece

The brief we have been set is to…

‘Create a piece of interactive information design for a shared public space, which is intended to elucidate/explain some an idea or concept you perceive as key to our 21st century media experience.’

The interactive element of my piece will be related to motion, I will video capture the public space and detect the brightness threshold of motion. The piece will feature objects that gravitate towards the bottom of the screen; when motion is detected, the objects are then obstructed from falling. The video capture will be in contrasting black and white, with brightly coloured objects, and the people will be captured as silhouette like figures rather than in full detail. The interactive element of my idea gives the users a sense of agency, which hopefully will help to keep them engaged. A piece that relates to my idea is Text Rain, produced by Camille Utterback and Romy Achituv in 1999:

It features coloured falling letters which respond to users motions and can be caught, lifted, and then let fall again.

‘If a participant accumulates enough letters along their outstretched arms, or along the silhouette of any dark object, they can sometimes catch an entire word, or even a phrase. The falling letters are not random, but form lines of a poem about bodies and language’ (Utterback 2014).

I like how the text produces a poem and think that this piece is very effective. For my piece, I could experiment with using different objects, for example I could possibly use shapes, texts or graphics. Relating it to the public space, I feel the idea would be suitable as the piece can be experienced singularly or by multiple people.

The concept that I could apply my piece to is surrealism. Surrealism is a

‘movement, which began in the 1920s, of writers and artists who experimented with ways of unleashing the subconscious imagination’ (Tate, 2014).

Duval (2014) describes surrealism as a form of expression that surpasses realism, hence in this case the surreal can be seen as being better than ‘real’. Surrealists were inspired by Freud, who

‘identified a deep layer of the human mind where memories and our most basic instincts are stored. He called this the unconscious, since most of the time we are not aware of it. The aim of surrealism was to reveal the unconscious and reconcile it with rational life.’ (Tate, 2014).

Thus, surrealism is related to the blurring the distinction between reality(conscious mind) and dreams(unconscious mind). This could link to Baudrillards’ idea of hyperreality, of which I am studying in my Consumer Culture theory unit. He defines hyperreality as the blurring distinction between reality and simulations of reality, of which in the case of surrealism, dreams and imagination could be classed as simulations of reality. Baudrillard (1970, p.12) suggests that

‘Instead of reality, people are treated to simulations involving the constant recombination of various signs, of elements of the code.’

This highlights the blurring boundaries between reality and simulation of reality, of which can strongly be applied to contemporary postmodern culture. It can relate to my idea as users may think it is reality as they are present on the screen, but in fact it is a re-presentation of reality, with the juxtapositioning of random falling objects. This also relates to Saussures’ earlier ideas regarding semiotics: the signifier (object/words/pieces) and signified (concept/meaning), and as Barthes (1964 p.42) suggest:Saussure-Signified-signifier

‘the signified is not ‘a thing’ but a mental representation of the ‘thing’’

My idea could also relate to the concept of audiences, which I studied a lot in my first year theory modules, relating to the changes from passivity to activity, audiences to users and consumption to production (see previous post – Active Audiences).

Next, I will go on to explore some surreal art work and photography that I find of interest, and will relate it to my idea, as well as further exploring my chosen concept of surrealism. I will also go on to develop my processing skills, by watching tutorials and independently experimenting with trial and error, as well as attending the workshops.

References:

Barthes, R, 1964. Elements Of Semiology. New York: Hill and Wang.

Baudrillard, J, 1970. The Consumer Society: Myths & Structures [online]. London: Sage Publications.

Duval, A, 2014. Surrealism: What Is Surrealism? [online]. Available from: http://www.musee-magritte-museum.be/Typo3/index.php?id=8 [Accessed 27 November 2014].

Tate, 2014. Surrealism [online]. Available from: http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/s/surrealism [Accessed 27 November 2014].

Utterback, C, 2014. Text Rain [online]. Available from: http://camilleutterback.com/projects/text-rain/ [Accessed 27 November 2014].

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Science Museum Trip

sm_logo_0Today, we went on a trip to London to visit the Science Museum. It allowed us to further understand media spaces and to see how different people behave within public spaces. Due to our project being an interactive piece, I focussed on exploring the interactive media pieces and how audiences engaged and understood them. Due to the fact it was a museum, it was clear that the people were looking around and engaging at the various pieces and artefacts. However, due to my project being based at University, I have to find ways to ensure people look and hopefully interact with my piece.

I observed that there was a vast range of different ages of people present, but would argue that majority were children there on school trips. Within the museum, there were only a few interactive pieces as the majority were historical and scientific artefacts. However, I feel that the interactive pieces seemed to engage more people, due to their appealing visual aspects. I found that the older people in particular seemed to be more interested in reviewing the more historical artefacts, and weren’t as interesting in the interactive pieces. I found it was the children in particular who engaged with the interactive pieces, of which they seemed to find very entertaining and fun. This highlights how different age generations engage with things different, dependent on their own experiences. It is clear that some older people may not be as experienced as the younger generation with using all these new technologies, but it is important to also be aware that sometime are assumptions can be challenged.

The interactivity was mainly incorporated through touch screens and buttons, as well as a movement based interaction in the Who Am I? exhibition. From observing people engaging with the interactive pieces, I noticed that children seemed to think that everything was touchscreen. They weren’t really engaging with the true concept, rather they were playing with friends, pushing buttons as fast as they could and touching various things on screen in the hope that something will happen. Throughout the museum there were various information touch screens to support the historical and scientific artefacts. However, I found that these were only used by those wanting to find out further information about the artefacts. Due to children growing up with the revolution of touch screens, most children seemed to depend on pieceWAI-Me3-1-WEB_6s being touch screen and weren’t as aware of other interactive features. For example, in the Who am I? exhibition (image on left), some children didn’t realise what the interactive feature of piece was and just saw it simply as a white wall; it wasn’t until someone stepped onto it that they realised it’s interactive and therefore they decided to engage with it. This piece stood out most to me, the multi-coloured particle objects follow peoples footprints and then reflect their movements visually on the screen. I like the interactive idea of this piece and similarly I plan to use motion and objects within my interactive piece. This has highlighted to me that it is important that my piece is easy to engage with and that it doesn’t require lots of prior technological knowledge in order to interact with it .

filename-do-not-touchAnother piece that stood out to me was the ‘Do Not Touch’ piece that appeared to give slight electric shocks to people. The idea behind this is to do with reverse phycology, the ‘Do Not Touch’ label on the floor around the piece in fact encourages people to touch the piece of which is intended. It also shows how peoples can behave in various ways, go against orders and it is extremely hard to assume how different people will behave. Although I noticed that the majority of children touched the piece which was the intention of it, there were a few that saw the ‘Do Not Touch’ and didn’t understand why people were touching it and so told them not too. From this, I have understood further that even people of a similar age will behave in different ways, of which I have to take into account for my piece. Although, the majority of people who see my piece will be students of similar age, they will all behave differently based on their own background and experiences. By going to the museum and observing the behaviour of people, I have learnt more about interactivity with public spaces. Most of the interactive pieces present in the museum don’t require a high amount of knowledge to use and this has made me realise that simple pieces can be just as successful as they are easy for all ages to directly and freely engage with. Linking this to my idea, I feel the piece will be easy for anyone to engage with, no matter how long they want to spend in the space. I have further learnt that the behaviour of people is very complex and even though I have studied my public space and the typical people, anything could happen and peoples behaviour can alter at any point.

a_1webWhen walking around London, we came across an interactive advertisement for Alcon contact lenses called ‘The London Stare’. We saw it displayed at a bus station and it encourages people to compete in a staring contest with a person on the screen. It displays whether you win or loose and then automatically prints out a contact lenses voucher. I found the piece quite interesting and more engaging than simple print advertisement which you see displayed all over London. Although due to it being at a busy bus stop, people seemed to notice it but were embarrassed to actually engage with it. However, after we engaged with the piece, we noticed a lady then interact with it. From this, I have learnt that some peoples actions can be influenced by other people. Therefore, if someone sees someone else engaging with my piece when it is in Weymouth House then hopefully it’ll influence them to engage with it too. This idea is quite a simple concept, which again has taught me that sometimes simplicity can actually be just as good or even better than complex ideas.

Inspirations For Interactive Piece

In order to help me to further develop ideas for my piece, I have been looking at existing interactive motion pieces that interest me. These are the main two examples that stood out to me when carrying out my research. I will analyse what I like about each one and will reflect on how they have inspired me.

I like the fact that this installation is based on pixels, using black and white circles to create silhouette like figures. It captures peoples movements but I feel it is more interesting rather than just being a simple video capture. I like how circles are used to create the figures on screen and think it makes quite a good effect. The use of black and white contrasts the figures from the background and I think that this works really well.

I really like the use of colours in this piece, the black background with bright luminous colours works well and stand out a lot to me. When someone moves, the multiple lines all move randomly, changing size and colour. This piece is more abstract and artistic, and the movement of the person creates a nice abstract visual.

Similarly to these examples, I would like my interactive piece to be on motion and movement. Carrying out this research has been very beneficial and it has really helped me to gain more ideas for my own piece. From this, I have decided that I would like my piece to video capture people as silhouettes rather than being in full detail. By doing this, hopefully it’ll encourage more people to engage with the piece as I’m aware that some people don’t like the idea of being on camera. I would also like to use bright colours, possibly on a black background, to make it eye catching and appealing to users. Relating back to my previous processing workshop, I would like to incorporate the use of objects and vectors into my piece, and the motion of the people can obstruct and alter the direction of the objects. Next, I will go on to produce a post finalising my idea as well as looking at some motion tutorials online.

Hype, 2012. Iris. Available from: youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhdG7OltXnU [Accessed 17 November 2014].

Universal Everything, 2013. Nike Flyknit . Available from: http://www.universaleverything.com/projects/nike-flyknit/ [Accessed 17 November 2014].

Processing – Experimenting with Video

I have been looking at some processing video examples that I find interesting in order to help me develop ideas for my interactive piece. I have also been watching some of Daniel Shiffmans’ processing tutorials in order to improve my understanding of past processing skills that I have learnt as well as develop new skills. I have learnt more about the Capture class, and the steps required to setup video capturing. I am going to analyse some video capturing examples, and explore how I could make it interactive within public spaces.

  • Video Pixelation – Likewise to images, you can also get the pixels of a video capture. Similarly, you have to use for loops and the pixel array formula (x+(y*width)) but in this case you load the video capture rather than an image. An idea relating to video pixelation could be that if people are moving at a certain speed, they will become pixelated, whereas if they are stood still in the space they become in focus.
  • Motion Detection – This is something I would like to incorporate into my interactive piece, but I need to be aware that at busy periods, there will be lots of movement within the public space. An idea related to motion is that when someone walks into the pubic space a new class/object will be created, which then follows the fastest movement within the public space (motion tracking).
  • Colour Tracking – Instead of tracking motion within the space, I could set it so the camera tracks a certain colour. For example, when someone walks past wearing red, an object could follow them on the public screen. However, this would become complex if there was lots of people wearing the same colours.

From looking at these examples, it has helped me to improve my processing knowledge about video capturing and motion detection/tracking. From this, I would like to incorporate motion in order to make my piece interactive, but still need to continue to fully develop an idea. To do this, I am next going to look at some existing interactive pieces that I find interesting.

Processing (2014). Processing [online] Available from: http://www.processing.org/[Accessed 11 November 2014].

Processing – Experimenting with Images

Throughout Reading Week, I have been experimenting with processing and have been looking at several different processing examples. This has enabled me to gain more ideas for my piece and possible concepts that I can explore. I have edited the examples used and will briefly analyse each one to explain how I could possibly make it interactive within the public space.

  • Image Layering (Transparency)

Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 19.09.55

This idea relates back to the previous post about Palimpsest, and the idea of layers. In the above example, I loaded 3 images onto processing and altered their opacity so you can still see all 3 images layered upon one another. I could make this idea interactive as I could set it so every few minutes, the camera takes an image of the public space, the images are then layered on top of one another, with the opacity reduced so that previous images are still visible. This idea could relate to the concept of representation, as the layers of images blur what each image represents as it kind of merges the images together. Also, different people depending on when they are in Weymouth House would see different layered images on the displays and individuals may interpret the displays differently. Some may notice the past images whereas others may not, hence the representation of the piece will be open to arbitrary decodings.

  • Image Pixel Distortionoutput_TbebgC

This idea comes from one of the processing examples – Explode – The mouses horizontal location controls the breaking apart of image and maps pixels from a 2D image into 3D space. I could make this idea interactive as each time someone walks past the camera, the pixels could move, hence the busier the public space is, the more distorted the image will become.

  • Pointillism

Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 19.28.24

This idea comes from another processing example – Pointillism – The mouses horizontal location controls size of dots and it creates a simple pointillist effect using ellipses coloured according to pixels in an image. I experimented with editing the coScreen Shot 2014-11-04 at 19.29.40de so that it used rectangles instead of ellipses, thus creating a different effect. To make this idea interactive within the public space, I could set it so it captures an image of Weymouth House and then each time someone walks past the camera a certain number of pixel ellipses/rectangles appear.

From looking at examples, I may decide to do something that relates to the concept of representation, and the idea of how contemporary audience decode multiple different meanings and messages from pieces. I would definitely like to make it interactive by basing it around motion and movement within the public space. From this, I need to decide what images to possibly use or whether to base it on video capturing. Next, I am going to look at some video capture examples to help me develop my ideas and experiment further with processing by learning more about how to capture videos and track motion within a public space.

Active Audiences

Contemporary audiences are more active consumers of media texts. For my interactive infographic, it requires my target audience to be active and interact with my piece. The rise of interactivity within contemporary media texts highlights the changing consumption habits of audiences, from passivity to activity. Cover (2006 cited by Macek 2013) describes interactivity as

‘a culturally motivated and historically variable desire to participate in textuality.’

Audiences involvement with texts is increasing; not only by interacting more with the producers’ final media text/piece, but also with the production of texts. This relates to an iterative design process as it is important to engage with the audience at all stages within the process in order to gain useful advice and feedback. For my piece, audiences will hopefully engage with the final piece, but it is essential that throughout I involve the audience with the production and development of my piece. Jenkins (2006, p.60) suggests that:

‘Consumption becomes production; reading becomes writing; spectator culture becomes participatory culture.’

I feel that Jenkins ideas can apply to my target audience as well as to contemporary culture. I’m aware that individuals may participate with my final piece in various ways, some may prefer to spectate whereas others will be more willing to participate. Jenkins idea of ‘consumption becomes production’ relates to Lister et al (2003, p.10), as they believe that:

‘we have seen a shift from ‘audiences’ to ‘users’, and from ‘consumers’ to ‘producers’

This highlights the increasing power that contemporary audiences now have with media texts, and relates to theory I studied in first year regarding fandom, user-generated content and authorship. This shift also relates to a theory unit I have recently studied, Media and History. It highlight the importance of exploring history, as in this case it helps our understandings of contemporary theory debates regarding audiences.

From this, I feel it is extremely important to continuously engage with my target audience throughout the development of my interactive piece. For my piece to be successful, it needs to appeal to its audience and as Gray (2010, p.166) says

‘a text only becomes a text, only gains social meaning and relevance, at the point that it comes alive with its audience.’

I aim to do this by regularly including the audience within the production of the piece in order to gain ideas and useful feedback. As well as making the final piece easy for all individuals to actively interact with.

References:

Gray, J, 2010. Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts. New York and London: New York University Press.

Jenkins, H, 2006. Fans, Bloggers and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture. London: New York University Press.

Lister, M, Dovey, J, Giddings, S, Grant, I, and Kelly, K, 2003. New Media: A Critical Introduction [online]. 2nd ed. London and New York: Routledge.

Macek, J, 2013. More than a desire for text: Online participation and the social curation of content. In: Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies [online], 19(3), 295-302.

Processing Workshop – Conditional Statements and Nested For Loops

In todays workshop, I developed my processing skills and learnt about nested for loops, conditional statements and rotation. Here are some examples…

output_n1t2o3

In the above example, the squares randomly change size and colour. From this, I learnt how to use integers and floats, as well as about using the colour mode HSB (Hue, Saturation, Brightness).

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 16.24.52In the above example, the left mouse click draws ellipses and randomly generates different colours. The right mouse click takes an image of the preview and saves it in the selected folder. From this, I learnt how to do conditional statements for the different mouse click variables. Also, I learnt about modulus – if no modulus was set then the ellipses continues to get bigger and bigger. Setting the modulus restricts this so that when it reaches a certain size it reverts back to the original size.

output_wAyDYX

In the above example, the rectangle randomly rotates around and changes hue colour. I used three integers to vary the rotation, size and colour. I also applied modulus to the integers so there were limits as to what size the rectangles reaches and the range of colours.

I experimented with the rotate examples by changing the fill, integers and modulus as well as using a triangle instead. I then incorporated the rotation elerotatements into a condition statement, so that wScreen Shot 2014-10-23 at 14.08.39hen you right click you get a rotating square and when you left click you get a rotating triangle:

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 14.21.20Learning about for loops and conditional statements was particularly important as in order to advance my processing skills I need to be confident with the basics. Most complex examples I have looked at include these features within, so learning this was essential in order for me to progress with processing and create my interactive piece.