Archive for October, 2007

Design something after our own image…

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Yet another tough assignment for me - making something with the Body in mind. I was a bit nervous because I cannot recall ever making something for the body. I had a few thoughts in mind including a miniature space for lounging in tight spaces and an ergonomic grip. All has been done before. What I really wanted to do was make something wearable for the body, something that wraps around the body. I was speaking with Petra from my class and she mentioned the movie Yi Yi, a movie which I’ve seen but did not recall at the time. It was about a little Taiwanese boy with his camera, taking photos of people, which happens to be their backs. Anyway, the idea of us not being able to see our backs, totally dependent on a series of angled mirrors or someone-elses affirmation. This reminded me of a saying from my country - T&T - we say “you something as well as the back of your hand.” I always asked myself, “how well do we know the back of our hands?”. I surely cannot tell you without looking what it.

Anyway, I decided I wanted to work with Petra on something reflecting the back. i also wanted to give a softer feel to the works I have produced in the class. Maybe a feminine touch, and needed an expert - Petra - to learn from. We then discussed what it should be. Will it be a collar, a backpack, a camera, mirrors. Then we focussed on a wearable back harness. The one sure thing was that it should be reflective. We trekked down to Canal Plastics to look at some reflective materials. We sampled a few sheets of reflective plastic sheets, analyzing the thickness and lower distortion. Reflective plastic tends to distort the image. Plus we wanted it to be light, yet sturdy. So we picked a sheet 4 X 4 feet.

Mirror Sample

Our next step was to design the shape. Should it sit high above the head, how should we attach it to the body? Should there be a shoulder mount? How far back should it be so that the wearer can see the back? We noticed, having a lot of hair it made inspired more surface area of the mirror for the wearer. We certainly did not want it to be too obtrusive and we wanted a bit of style. We used our little red model with a small piece of paper.


Next, I we sketched out a model of what it could be and then we started shaping.

Sketch 2

One important thing, when dealing with material that is a bit expensive, paper is a great alternative to cutting and shaping a design - with respect to clothing. We then traced and cut out a triangular piece with straps. This first draft needed major alterations. It was just too high above the head and too narrow. The next cut we lowered the top and tried it on Petra. Luckily the strap, which was supposed to sit on the waist, sat higher closer to the bust-line, giving it a more stylish impression. Petra also said it felt fine. The next challenge was making it where it’s adjustable on the body. With paper this would be nearly impossible without a support. We found stiff wire which we cut and bent giving it a skeletal form. Now it stands freely and Petra can try again.


Now that we are in the zone it’s time to cut the reflective sheet using the same framework as the paper. It was fitting the same as the paper with exception to the stiffness. But it was light, reflective, adjustable and had some sort of fashion implication. Since it was close to Halloween fellow students were asking us if we were making a costume.
We wanted to line the back with a fabric to further imply a dressy outfit, but we just left it as is. The main point was to test it’s reflective ease using a mirror, which would then be attached to a chain for portability.


We think that this was a success, and for me testing the waters of making something wearable for the body. We had a model sample the gear for us - I don’t have a name for it. Check out the pics.

model look


mirror look

Looking forward to more collaboration and wearables.


CarActer: A sound project featuring the character of a car.

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

It started with what’s interest us Ilan and Allistar. After a brief banter about things related a car was born, and would be presented using the medium of sound. Now the car needed to be developed into a versatile CarActer and become rounded. We decided to spend our next meeting looking at cars and analyzing their characters, if any. We started with the eyes - lights, the mouth - grill, the length. Then we moved into the sound of the engine, the wheel diameter. Does the car have a moon-roof, is it a convertible, what’s the gender. During our analysis and our personal reflection we found that a car can become personal when reflected upon at times in our lives. Like what was the first car we drove - or the smell of your parents new vehicle - or the car we had during that first date - and etc… All those things would help to personalize character.
I was particularly interested in choosing a particular car, accentuating it’s characteristic, thus triggering a persons reflective experience during our impending showcase for interactive screen…

Ilan and I discussed some more and at times while we were saying the same thing struggled to convince our points to each other. This is healthy because it really forced us to think outside the box and work on our communication skills - we are both very strong in our opinions. Thanks Marina. :)

The next meeting we discussed some more for the next few hours and then proceeded to write down the characteristics of of the car we wanted to represent. This would become our shopping list.
The inner life would consist of it’s delicate handling, the choice of oil used to lubricate it’s inner workings, the amount of time it needs to warm up before driving taking off, its tempermental gear-shifting, the subtle vibration of the engine during idling, the soft, pleasant sounds of its alert mechanisms - turn signals, door ajar, navigation system, seat-belt, its suspension during the journey, how the seat felt when you sat in it.
It’s outer life would be the sound of it coming down the street, it’s flashy colour, the rubber burning of the wheels as it peels out, the racing sound of the engine RPMs, the funky horn, the extended lights, its large front and sleek back.

We then broke it up into three sections of a journey, hopefully expressing the characteristic mood changes of that journey. It migrated from the walk to the car, getting in and starting the moment, gradually transcending into a hectic car busy environment and ending from a highway run to nature birds and bees.
The next challenge was to gather sounds from a sound library. Given that we are broke we tried the free route. Unfortunately we were constrained by time and low quality of online audio samples and consistent audio clips. This was particularly frustrating for me since I am an audio engineer and have done various mixes, where quality makes or breaks the flow of the piece. I did what I could do in ProTools and here’s the result.

CarActer Audio

Before show-time we were still rendering audio elements and and designing the layout of the booth. Initially I wanted to build a car top out of cardboard with raw speakers mounted on the sides, using the acoustic of the symmetric cardboard shape to direct the sound relational experience. What we ended up with was a chair with between and under three tables covered by fabric. We also used the school speakers, which did not reflect the exact experience we wanted. The presentation required only one person at a time, which would have taken too long for everyone to experience.

During critic time here’s where we fell short: We failed to identify who/what the character was, it was not well rounded. The bad sound quality was too much of a distraction and the journey was not totally clear and seamless. The structure was also a problem - it showed our lack of preparation. marina did like the wind from the speakers but all-and-all we fell short with this project. What would I do if I had to revamp the project? I would pic a clear character, I would focus more on the shopping list, get user feedback, spend more resources on sound samples and its quality, build the shell making it an installation with hopefully a better experience. Also look up more installation artists’ works that focused on sound. Just a few things I would do. Spend less time talking more more time doing. I was thankful for the class critic am looking forward to the next project.