Charlotte Strethill-Smith

Digital Media Design Student

Testing the Sketch — January 23, 2015

Testing the Sketch

I tested my sketch on one of the screens in the foyer at Weymouth house. This enabled me to see what my sketch looked like on a bigger screen, as well as adjust the proportions. I think I should have adjusted the brightness levels the camera picked up as well. After showing this on the screen the feedback I received was that I could have created a shadow to show where the interactions had been as well as that path taken.

My final sketch for the interactive Installation interprets the idea of John Thompson’s (1990,1995) Quasi-interaction, where the individuals are not linked directly but the interaction is stretched across space and time. My sketch creates moving dots to represent an individual that walks past the camera. I chose dots as in ‘The Virtual Community’ Howard Rheingold (1993) looks into the idea of social aggregations and personal relationships forming in cyberspace being similar to the real world but in a disembodied form. The dots represent ourselves in our disembodied state making many interactions with surrounding people.

my original concept ideas incorporated the use of sound. With this final sketch I attempted to assign a different pitch with each dot to represent our own sense of personality and difference. However this also explores the ideas of Theodore Adorno of the Frankfurt School who argues “Musical forms tend to reflect the society within which they exist.”(Giddens, 2009) this explores musical forms taking on predictable structures which train people to expect uniformity and repetition. I’ve portrayed this in my sketch as after a while the dots of interaction build up to form patterns of diamonds and other emerging shapes. This could comment on how anonymity strips any individual personality and shows a continuous repetition in daily lives.

For future reference I think making a more attractive looking design would attract people more and get them to ask questions for them to delve deeper into the theory of an abstract piece such as this. I would also like to develop skills further in this area as to be able to create large and more interactive and engaging installations. As I learnt at the London Museum of Science, the most engaging installations were the most colourful, loudest and boldest. They were attentions grabbing and although I am happy with the concept idea of this piece I do not feel it stands out to the best of its potential.


// Imports //—————————————————————————————————- import*; // we need to import all the classes that allow us to hook up to a web cam // Data //—————————————————————————————————- Capture cam; // Camera object with global scope PVector position, velocity, centre; ArrayList agents; // This method is called once at startup //—————————————————————————————————- void setup(){ // set the size of the canvas size(600, 600); // Instantiate and start camera cam = new Capture(this, 160, 120); cam.start(); agents = new ArrayList(); strokeWeight(4); } // This method is called repeatedly until user quits //—————————————————————————————————- void draw(){ // Test to see if the cam is available and call the grabPixel() method if it is if (cam.available() == true) { grabPixel(); } for(int i = 0; i < agents.size(); i++){ Agent agent = (Agent)agents.get(i); agent.draw(); } } // This method will only be called if the camera is available //—————————————————————————————————- void grabPixel(){ //read the current video frame; //grab one pixel from the middle of the camera color c = cam.get(int(cam.width*0.5), int(cam.height*0.5)); //map the brightness of this pixel to a value between 0 and 1 float v = map(brightness(c), 0, 255, 0, 1); //test this value and call appropriate method if(v > 0.5){ bright(); }else{ dim(); } } void bounce(){ if(position.x > height){ position.x = height; velocity.x = -velocity.x; }else if(position.x < 0){ position.x = 0; velocity.x = -velocity.x; } if(position.y > height){ position.y = height; velocity.y = -velocity.y; }else if(position.y < 0){ position.y = 0; velocity.y = -velocity.y; } } // This method is called when the pixel is bright //—————————————————————————————————- void bright(){ background(255); // fill white } // This method is called when the pixel is dim //—————————————————————————————————- void dim(){ background(240); Agent tmpAgent; tmpAgent = new Agent(mouseX,mouseY,color(random(0,255),random(0,255),random(0,255))); agents.add(tmpAgent); } class Agent{ PVector position, velocity, centre; Agent(int x,int y, color c){ position = new PVector(random(1000),random(1000)); velocity = new PVector(6, 3); centre = new PVector(0.5*width, 0.5*height); } void bounce(){ if(position.x > height){ position.x = height; velocity.x = -velocity.x; }else if(position.x < 0){ position.x = 0; velocity.x = -velocity.x; } if(position.y > height){ position.y = height; velocity.y = -velocity.y; }else if(position.y < 0){ position.y = 0; velocity.y = -velocity.y; } } void draw(){ //higher number, less friction velocity.mult(1); position.add(velocity); bounce(); point(position.x, position.y); } }

Design Iterations – Finalising Imagery — January 19, 2015

Design Iterations – Finalising Imagery

My next stage after sound experiments, was to create what I wanted the sketch to look like. I based the process on a concept idea I noted previously. This idea was to create a ball that made its own path around the screen every time someone walked past. The effect would be multiple balls making their own path around the screen to represent our own paths we make, intersecting and interacting with each other.

My first problem to overcome was to create a ball that moved around and stayed inside the screen. I did this using an array to avoid typing the same code repeatedly  After creating this sketch I then came across another problem, making the balls starting point random as well as pairing this sketch with an earlier camera sketch.

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I have now created this sketch which produces multiple balls every time a movement is made in front of the camera. I also randomised the starting location of each one. However every time a movement is made multiple balls are created rather than just one.

I am also unsure wether to incorporate the sound experiments as they were not entirely successful.

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Design Iterations First Attempts — January 6, 2015

Design Iterations First Attempts

First off, I apologise for the noise you’re about to hear, the videos didn’t upload to youtube well and the sound is pretty offensive. I swear in the processing sketch it is a lot smoother.

I took the sound experiments, which can be found from the post Processing Sound Experiments, and started to apply them to an interactive sketch. With my first attempt I used a sketch which uses the camera input to test if the middle pixel is bright or dim. If the camera input recognises the pixel as bright, the screen goes white and a synth sound is triggered. If the pixel is dim, the screen turns black and a lower pitched synth sound is triggered. The problem I face now is that I can’t stop the sound and both play at the same time. I have used an if statement but still unsure how to stop this.

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I changed method here and changed the sound from being created in processing, to importing sounds. This uses the same sketch but uses an imported wav or mp3 file. This means the sound ends when the recorded sound ends and also stops if the screen changes. However, the sound is being restarted every new frame because its in the void draw rather than void setup.

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I think from this point I may put the sound part on hold so I can build a substantial prototype and try incorporate the sound element later when I have a better understanding of the program.

Processing Sound Experiments — January 5, 2015

Processing Sound Experiments

The first problem I needed to overcome was how to create sound using processing. I initially used the beads library which is a software library written in Java for realtime audio. I used a tutorial on how to generate sound using beads. I started with a basic synth sound and put it in a sketch where you can increase the gain by moving the mouse.

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I then experimented with different effects you can use. These are examples of delay and a filter sweep over a synth sound.

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I then developed this onto importing audio and started with a simple drum beat which is passed through a filter when the left button is clicked, creating a muffled quieter version of the original.

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This then moved on to adding drum samples and assigning them to keys, this could be used as an interactive element for music composition as described in my Design Iterations – Concept Idea. This idea involved using three interactive screens to produce sounds based on hand movements picked up by the camera. If I wanted to take this example further I would need to map the kick/snare sound to an area of the screen which when the camera senses movement there, it would trigger the sound.

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I also used the tutorial to create this example of a ball moving around the screen and changing the gain of a synth sound depending on where it moves to. This is similar to the idea I described in Design Iterations – Concept Idea 2, where I described dots representing people who walk past and following a path which interacts with other dots/ people using sounds to represent communication or events happening. For this I would need to solve the problem on how to map the sound to the dot and then create a random noise generator for other dots that appear. I would also need to figure out how to get a dot to appear based on camera movement.

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Concept Theory — January 2, 2015

Concept Theory

My concept ideas look into media theories of interaction. According to John Thompson, who draws on the work of Habermas developing ideas from the Frankfurt School. there are three distinctive types of interaction. Face to Face interaction, Mediated interaction for instance people talking on the phone and mediated Quasi-interaction which refers to the social relations created by modern day mass media. This interaction stretches across space and time but does not link individuals directly. Thompson makes the point that all three types intermingle in our lives today.

Functionalist theorists such as Charles Wright (1960) and Denis McQuail (2000) focus on how media integrates and binds societies together. Those who have a rather positive view on The Internet see it as a positive addition to human interaction and argue it enriches and expands individual peoples social networks. Separation and distance from friends and family becomes more tolerable due to internet communication. (Giddens  2009)

One theory I would like to represent in my work is from Howard Rheingold’s ‘The Virtual Community’ (2000). He looks into the ‘Virtual Communities’ which he defines as “social aggregations that emerge from the Net when enough people carry on…public discussions long enough, with sufficient human feeling, to form webs of personal relationships in cyberspace’. He then goes on to say that being in this world is a lot like being part of a physical real world but in a disembodied form.” I want to interpret this in this project by representing us in a disembodied form, but showing the interactions we make in real and virtual life. Some scholars could argue that we spend less time interacting in the physical world(Giddens, 2009). However it could be possible we are constantly surrounded and taking part in virtual and real like interactions.

In my concept ideas I have incorporated the use of sound. I want to reflect on the ideas of Theodore Adorno (1976) of the Frankfurt School of critical theory. He argues that “Musical forms tend to reflect the society within which they exist.”(Giddens, 2009) for instance in capitalist society, musical forms take on predictable structures to offer easy gratification These forms train people to expect repetition and uniformity.