Improvements – Shapes, Size, And Speed

Some suggested improvements I received when testing my piece was to possibly add more of each of the shapes. As well as to possibly make the speed at which the object fall slightly faster, and to make the size of the objects more varied.

Here is the code for initialising a new object and setting the size range, of which I changed the range to random(10,30):

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 17.02.10It was also suggested that I should have more objects, which I altered easily in the object arrays, where I can choose to have 0-infinity objects:

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 17.04.39

Changing the speed at which the objects descend has to be done in the individual classes constructor. I edited the yspeed so that objects descend and ascend slightly quicker:

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 17.06.50

I feel that these improvements have benefited my piece, highlighting the importance of carrying out user testing. I decided against turning my piece into a game as felt it would be too easy. As users could easily put out both hands and prevent the shapes from falling, like this example…

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 13.10.58

From this, I will go on to test my piece in a studio room, capturing more of the persons body rather than just the top half. Allowing me to see if there are any further refinements I could do before displaying my piece in the public space.

User Testing – Family and Friends

I have presented my piece to my family and friends in order to see whether they think it will be successful and to help me gain feedback and improvements, as well as to help me decide which objects to use (shapes/stick figures/software icons). It is important to gain feedback from users as it means I can improve my piece to make it more appealing and suitable for its purpose. It relates to the iterative design process as I am engaging with users in order to help develop and improve my piece. Before showing my piece, I came up with some qualitative usability questions to ask and here are the concluded responses from the multiple users…

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  • Which object do you prefer?

The majority of people preferred the shapes as they thought this idea worked and looked best. There were a couple that liked the stick men figures as they thought it looked more unusual and interesting. None of the users preferred the software icons.

  • Discuss what appeals you to interact with the piece?

The majority felt that the bright colours stood out a lot and helps make the piece look more appealing. They also liked the fact it involved camera interaction and thought this worked well.

  •  Discuss what you like about the piece?20150111_132938

The majority liked the black and white video capture contrasting with the bright coloured objects and thought this worked well. They liked how they could use any part of there body to interact  and obstruct the objects. The simplicity of the piece also meant anyone could easily interact without any difficulty.

  • Discuss what you understand about the piece?

Everyone understood that it is camera interaction where you can obstruct the falling shapes. However, some couldn’t understand what the point of the interactive piece was. When discussing the concept of surrealism and the blurring boundaries between the real and the imaginary/simulated, this helped their understanding but younger family members portrayed the piece as more game-like.

  • What improvements would you suggest?

A common suggested improvement was that I could experiment with adding more of each the shapes. Also, another common suggested improvement was to make the range of the sizes of the objects more varied. Some users suggested that I could make the piece more game-like and have a point system so that if an object falls, they loose a life. They felt that if it was to be made into a game, the objects needed to fall faster in order to make it a bit harder, as well as possibly to use shapes as decoys. For example, you only loose a life if a square falls and the other shapes are just there to distract you. A big improvement that has come to my attention is that the video capture needs to be mirrored. At the moment, when you lift up your hand, the screen flips it so it is the opposite side. This makes it a bit confusing for users to interact with as the video capture is reversed.

Moores (2005, p.112) suggests:

‘the ways in which individuals make sense of media products vary according to their social background and circumstances, so that the same message may be understood in differing ways in different contexts.’

This can apply to the user testing I carried out on my family due to the varied range of ages from 12-80. Each individual makes sense of the piece in their own way and denotes different meanings and messages. In particular, I found that the younger members saw it being game-like and the older members (grandparents) did not really understand it. This can relate to Jenkins idea of the ‘digital divide’ and how different age generations access and use of new technologies varies. Due to my target audience all being a similar age (students), I feel that there will be some more common denotations from interacting with my piece. However, as Jenkins suggests it is hard to understand the complexity of audiences. Due to this complexity, I’m aware that individuals may denote the messages and concept of my piece in multiple ways, peoples behaviour may differ and my expectations of the audience may be challenged.

Overall, testing the piec20150111_132925e with family and friends has helped me a lot. I have now decided that I will use shapes as the falling objects as this was the most agreed upon response. Also, I am pleased with the visuals and think the bright colours on the black and white video capture is an element that is appealing and liked by users. Due to some of my family being younger than my aimed audience, some didn’t fully understand the piece and the concept. However in the public space, due to my target audience being students, they will hopefully understand the piece better. From carrying out this testing, it has helped me to gain lots of feedback which will enable me to improve my piece to make it more successful. The improvements were all very useful and I will take each of them on board. I need to ensure that next I edit the code to mirror the video capture as this could make it confusing for users and put them off interacting with my piece.

Jenkins, H, 2008. Convergence culture: where old and new media collide. London: New York University Press.

Moores, S, 2005. Media/Theory. Thinking about Media and Communications. London and New York: Routledge.

Initial Testing

I have personally tested my first draft of idea to see if the programming works correctly. As I am still unsure as to what objects to use, I decided to test them all to see which works best, here are the clips showing my tests:

From the test, I found that the object orientated programming all works as expected, when they are on a white pixel, they descend, and when they reach a black pixel they ascend. I did however find that in the software icons examples, they tended to fall in groups at times which is something I will have to resolve if I choose these objects. I think the bright colours on the white background work well as they stand out and make the piece more bright and appealing. As you can see from the tests I have carried out, the brightness thresholding in each example varied slightly. The threshold level in each is the same so this is due to the different time of day and the brightness of the room. Therefore, from this I have learnt that when displaying my piece, I need to edit the threshold to a level where it would work best, to suit the brightness of public space in Weymouth House. Next, I will go on to show my pieces to users, in order to gain feedback as to which object they think works best and other improvements they may have.

Processing Experiments

Over the holidays, I have been working on my interactive idea, developing the code and experimenting with different objects. Using Shiffmans brightness thresholding example, I then used existing knowledge of object orientated programming to create different classes (a blueprint that allows us to create an object), where each class contains data, constructors and methods. The methods I used for the different classes were all fairly similar:
void display () – displays the class (ellipse, rect, img etc.)
void descend () – descends to bottom of sketch (y+yspeed)
void bottom () – when they reach bottom, the start back at top of sketch (if (y > height){y=0;})

One idea is to have various brightly coloured shapes, here is an example:

I like the simplicity of this idea, and think the various shapes could work well. It makes the piece appeal like a game, which will hopefully encourage users to interact. I like the bright colours and this is something I would definitely use, no matter what objects I decide to use. The colours really stand out on the black and white video capture and I think it’ll look good when I go program it so the black pixels obstruct them from falling. I think the shapes would be a simple, yet effective objects to incorporate into the piece.

Another idea is to have ‘raining men’, here is an example:

golcondaThis idea links back to Magrittes’ surreal art work (image to right). I like the fact it looks quite unusual, and think it strongly relates to my concept of surrealism. I would have to program it so when the bottom of the ‘raining men’ figures reaches a black pixels then it moves up to a white. Again, I really like the bright colours and think they help make the piece stand out and look more appealing. The disadvantage is that it may be slightly harder to program using figures but I am willing to experiment further.

From this idea, I could incorporate various stick man doing different activities, in order to make it more varied and interesting. For example, I could have figures carrying out different sporting activities. Each figure could be a different bright colour, helping it to stand out and make it more visually appealing. Sport is something I enjoy and thus this will make my piece more personal. This can also relate back to my previous post regarding Slinkachu and his intriguing street photography of tiny people.

sports-symbols-hi

Another idea inspired by Cerise Doucède photography is to have falling objects that relate to the public space. Due to my interactive installation being in the Media School this idea could work well and users can relate to the various objects, here are some examples: social media 1 | black2012051003csicons-02

From experimenting with my interactive piece, I have learnt that the brightness thresholding example works best when the background is clear. Also, it depends on the lighting of the space and the set threshold number as to how silhouette like figures will be. I need to test these example in the space to see if it will work. I may find that the background may be a problem due to the walls having various photographs and posters on them. So, I will have to test on various public displays to see which one would work best and alter the thresholding accordingly. If needed, I may have to put up a white screen in the public space and set it up so users stand in front of the screen.

Next I will go on to add a class method:
void obstruct () – descend when on white pixel and ascend when on black pixel.
I plan to do this using previous knowledge of conditional statements and gaining help in workshop if required. Then, I will begin to test my piece both in the public space and with the target audience, to gain feedback and further follow the iterative design process.

Experimenting with Colour

For my interactive piece, I would like to incorporate Brightness Thresholding into the video capture. I have decided to experiment with different colours I could use, here are some outcomes:

1

I feel that the ones with the white background would work best as it would be harder to see the falling objects on a coloured background. Although I feel the coloured figures look good, I think it would make the objects stand out less and I would have to be more cautious as to what colour object to use. Therefore, I think that the white background and black figure (top left) would work best for my idea. I could then use any colour for the objects and it would clearly stand out and there will be no contradicting colours. These colour experiments reminded me off Andy Warhol’s pieces, here is an example of his ‘Marilyn Diptych’ piece that is displayed at the Tate Museum:

Marilyn Diptych 1962 by Andy Warhol 1928-1987
Similarly to my idea, the figure is positioned on a clear background. I plan to incorporate colour into the falling objects rather than the video capture. I feel that some of the target audience may not like being on camera and therefore hopefully the black and white silhouette-like effect that I plan to use will help encourage users to interact with my piece. The black and white piece on the left looks similar to what I plan for mine to be like. Andy Warhols art work also features various objects (Campbells soup, Coco Cola etc), and for my piece I need to experiment with what objects to use. This relates to the theory module I studied (Media and History) and highlights how past art/design movements are still important. Pop Art came around in the 1950s, yet it is still widely recognised and used in contemporary. Next, I will go on to experiment with different objects I could use in my piece as well as developing the code.

Tate, 2014. Andy Warhol [online]. Available from: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/warhol-marilyn-diptych-t03093 [Accessed 16 December 2014].

Processing Video Examples

For my interactive piece, I have analysed some examples that can be relevant towards the creation of my piece. It is important that I understand the programming language used, and that am capable of re-working it myself. There are those that program from scratch and those which hack examples together. Hacking examples together is a programming technique that some use, the advantages of this is that it is quicker and allows ideas to be more complex for those which are not that advanced in programming. However, the disadvantages are that if you don’t understand it, then mistakes can easily be made and it may be hard to resolve if the programming language is not fully understood. The advantages of programming from scratch is that it means your programming knowledge is more developed, meaning you can create complex ideas of which you can resolve errors more easily. However, the disadvantages are that it can take a lot longer as you will be writing out code that sometimes is already easily accessible to use. Therefore, if I do choose to use one of the following examples, it is important that I fully understand the code, which I will evident through the various sketches I have programmed and presented on my blog. If I decide to use one of the examples, it would just form a bit of my piece as I then need to use object orientated programming to create an array of gravitating objects, showing I have the ability to both hack and program. I will go on to analyse each example, understand and edit the code and experiment with trial and error.

Brightness Thresholdingbrightness thresholding v2

This is my favourite example, and I may incorporate it into my piece. Initially, the threshold was lower and therefore the figure isn’t that clear, however by changing the thresholding and positioning of the camera I was able to capture a black silhouette on a white background. Next, I need to go on to add objects the piece, and program it so when they reach a black pixel they move up and when they reach a white pixel they descend.

Motion Detection

motion detection v2

This example detects motion and produces a black outline around a moving figure. It works well, and I like the figure effect. However, it will be harder to program the objects as the black pixels are not as bold and clear as the example above.

Brightness Mirror

brightness mirror v2I like the effect of the grid of squares and think this looks very good and unique. Originally, the size was smaller which I don’t think worked as well, so I adjusted the size of the squares. When adding falling objects to this example, it could come across as being quite confusing and distorted but I think that this is a good back-up example that I could use.

Next, I will go on to experiment further with object orientated programming and will add an array of descending objects to the brightness thresholding example. I will experiment with different objects: shapes, figures, words or graphics, to see which works and looks best.

Shiffman, D, 2008. Learning Processing: Examples [online]. Available from: http://www.learningprocessing.com/examples/ [Accessed 13 December 2014].

Surreal Photography

I have explored the concept of surrealism further by researching some surreal photography pieces. Here are some pieces that stood out most to me, I will analyse what I like about each one and relate them to my idea for my interactive piece.

photo surrealThis piece is by Ronen Goldman, it features a man obstructing apples that are flying towards him with an open umbrella. Goldman turns fantasies into works of art – ‘photo-dreams’. This piece was in fact inspired by Magrittes’ paintings, after Goldman went and visited the Magritte Museum in Belgium. I like the simplicity of this idea, and it has highlighted to me how simple ideas can be just as effective. It has quite a humorous effect and is very eye catching. The surreal element of the addition of the flying apples really helps to make viewers look deeper into the image, in order to understand what it being represented.

surreal

This piece is by Slinkachu, it stood out to me as it is very unique and unusual. It features miniature people having a ‘Tug Of War’ with a £10 note. The use of tiny people in his photography really helps to blur the boundaries between the real and the imaginary, hence show surrealism. This idea is again quite simple, but it has a strong effect, of which engages viewers deeper into his street photography. Slinachu uses everyday objects that are found in the streets and incorporates tiny people to create imagined scenes/stories, for example, skating on orange peel, shooting a bee etc.

EgarementsThis piece is by Cerise Doucède, her photography features flying objects that relate to the scene.Cerise says in her photography, ‘The imagination takes precedence over reality, the invisible becomes visible.’ In this piece, the couple are having breakfast in bed and there are various flying plates, mugs, cutlery and foods. I really like her photography as again it is very unique and interesting. It relates really well to my piece as likewise, I plan to have flying objects. The surreal element of the flying objects undoubtedly make the piece more intriguing and engaging.

From looking at surreal photography, it has really helped to inspire me for my piece. It has given me more ideas as to the objects that I could include in my piece. From looking at Ronen Goldman’s photography, I could incorporate animals or foods as the gravitating object in my piece. From looking at Slinkachu, I could include tiny people in my piece, which also relates back to Margrittes surreal artwork. I could have the people carrying out different activities, whether it be different sports or different activities relating to the media school (on laptop/filming/radio presenting). Finally, by looking at Cerise Doucède, I could relate the falling objects to the public space and have objects such as phones, laptops, cameras etc, or could relate the objects specifically to Digital Media Design and have objects the relate to the course, such as mac and adobe icons. By exploring surreal photography, it has made me realise more about how I could use surrealism in my piece. I have learnt that the piece doesn’t need to be highly complex as these pieces all show how simple ideas/concepts can be very interesting and engaging. Each piece is very unusual and unique, of which I want my piece to be. This will hopefully help it to stand out in the public space and encourage users to explore deeper into the piece and interact with it.

References:

Goldman, R, 2014. Ronen Goldman [online]. Available from: http://www.ronengoldman.com/?gallery=surrealistic-pillow-project-gallery [Accessed 9 Dec].

Slinkachu, 2014. Slinkachu [online]. Available from: http://slinkachu.com/home [Accessed 9 Dec].

Doucède, C, 2013. Cerise D [online]. Available from: http://cerisedoucede.fr/portfolio/egarements-4/ [Accessed 9 Dec].