ICM Class 2 – Variables and Animating

I want to thoroughly understand the code I’m writing, so I made a very simple animation of circles and squares behaving randomly or in response to the cursor. Even with a simple sketch, I still have a lot of questions! I’ve listed them in the code itself, which you can see below. I had fun problem-solving my code when it didn’t run — especially when I was able to fix it.

Originally I wanted to be able to click the mouse four times, and each time a ball would behave differently, whether shy, clingy, bouncy, or frenetic. I’d like to learn how to have “four different clicks” and get further with shyness and bounciness.

Here is my sketch: http://alpha.editor.p5js.org/fergfluff/sketches/HJaD8moqZ

Here is my code:
https://gist.github.com/fergfluff/6dc730a4654dddd88a381beff64fef8c

Intro to Fab Class 1 – Flashlight

I built a prototype for a night vision flashlight to use while stargazing (most likely when outside the city where there are more stars!) . Ideally, a final iteration would be much smaller. With limited fabrication skills, this is what I came up with so far!

You can see my step-by-step process in the slide show below.

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Final A – Night vision flashlight for while stargazing. Doesn’t show the base…
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Final B – Night vision flashlight for while stargazing
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Creepy Final C – Night vision flashlight for while stargazing
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Side 1 – It works!
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Side 2 – I had to leave this open in order to be able to still unplug and not drain the battery by powering the arduino.

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Sketches Part II – I made a list of possible purposes for flashlights
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Sketches Part III – But with my limited fabrication skills at the moment, I stuck to what I knew I could accomplish.
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1. I went to the junk shelf!
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2. I found a lot of this metallic paper and a clear plastic tube.
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3. I also tested whether light travelled up the paper inside the tube, which it did (hard to document while using my phone’s flashlight to test).
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4. I felt pretty confident I could make the cardboard form, so I focused on whether I could light up two LEDs with a pushbutton.

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6. Testing the form. The sides are made out of toilet paper tubes.
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7. Building the middle shelf to allow room for the arduino components to live on top, and the 9V battery to live on the bottom.
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8. Making sure it fits.

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I wanted this flashlight because recently I learned how important red lights are while camping at night in Yosemite National Park. The stars were incredible. And better yet with minimal lights while you might want to set up a photograph or telescope. Dim red lights are ideal to allow your eye’s pupils remain more open, which lets in more light and ultimately more distant stars. Red lights also produce less light pollution, making it easier for people around you to also see the sky. You can see red lights being used by stargazers at 1:40 in this fun National Park Service’s video.

In making this flashlight, I was also inspired by last week’s Applications guest speaker and astrovisualizer Carter Emmart from the American Museum of Natural History.  His renderings of the universe made me want to get outdoors to see the stars even more.

What I learned:

  • The junk shelf indeed provides great inspiration. The loop-like form of my flashlight was definitely influenced by the clear tubing I found on the shelf.
  • Building with cardboard was an efficient way to test and modify my ideas without too much frustration. I can see how prototyping first with cardboard can save a lot of angst in future projects.
  • Going with my first idea felt most natural. I had other ideas but they weren’t as clear in my mind. … nor did I know how to safely combine water and LEDs…
  • It was fun to hide my Arduino and breadboard in my flashlight. But the size of these components required that I create a larger flashlight than I originally wanted to.

Design issues/What I’d like to know:

  • How to build with other physical materials, such as wood to construct the flashlight’s body and other types of plastic for the lightbulb’s loop.
  • Obviously, the open sides are not ideal! I left this issue alone so I can unplug the battery and turn the flashlight on. Soon I would learn how to build switches myself so they can be built into the form of an object.

Video & Sound – Thoughts on a Soundwalk

Assignment: My classmates and I visited Central Park to go a soundwalk created by artist Janet Cardiff, titled “Her Long Black Hair”. The piece was funded by the Public Art Fund. 

To my surprise, I found myself very emotional in Central Park today. Call me jaded, but after living in New York City for fourteen years and working near Central Park South for eight years, I expected to have a walk through the park like all the others I’ve had over the years. Beautiful but overused. Natural but artificial. The lung of the city but congested with lots of people on a Saturday.

However, Central Park and I were lifted up into another realm through sound.  Thanks to Janet Cardiff and her soundwalk “Her Long Black Hair”, I saw the park in a new way as the past was replayed over the present, many times into the future.

First of all, Cardiff is a fortune teller. There really WAS a man reading the newspaper when she said “Turn to the right. There’s a man on the bench reading the paper.” (!!) Read on for my impressions on the rest of the piece.

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As promised, a man reading the newspaper on a bench.

Concepts

Here are three things that resonated most with me during Cardiff’s sound walk.

  • Common vs. singular: Several times, Cardiff transformed people’s common rituals in the park into singular and spontaneous performances. For example, I was certain Cardiff put the man reading the paper there just for me. But the piece was created in 2005. There must be countless men reading newspapers on that bench each month.  Cardiff must have done her research to know this. She certainly relies on them to be these unwitting New Yorkers if she features them so early on in her soundscape piece!
  • Overlapping layers of time: Cardiff says in Track 2: “Go towards the tunnel. Now we’re walking across where she stood. One time across another.”  Instead of time being a linear experience that can never be repeated, Cardiff’s soundscape makes the argument that past and present can coexist on top of one another, through replayed sound and memory.
  • The present moment frozen in time:  Cardiff wove together ancient and contemporary stories to explore how moments can be lost but still seared into one’s memory or in a photograph.  I found it incredibly rich and moving for Cardiff to fold a contemporary NYC story about a woman photographed by a man in Central Park into the themes of an ancient Greek story of Orpheus looking back at Eurydice in Hades.  Humans and memory don’t change much, but technology does! Would Orpheus have wanted a camera to photograph Eurydice?

Techniques

As we prepare to make our own soundscape in class, here are a few  more thoughts Cardiff’s piece and the techniques we’ll be using.

  • Narrative arc:  Whether or not Cardiff drew a chart of her narrative arc, I’m sure it would be packed and detailed! I’m curious how much she planned in advance or built as she went.
  • Character:  I would describe Cardiff’s piece as a stranger who acts so familiar with you, that you unwittingly get wrapped up in her story. Other adjectives would be mysterious, a little urgent, contemplative, and revealing.
  • Context/Symbols/Space: There are many of these in the soundscape. For example, Central Park is a major context for the piece, signifying a more contemplative mindset than while walking down 5th Avenue. The soundscape’s map is a very familiar wayfinding tool that symbolizes where to walk. Lastly, the space around me was manipulated through the directionality of the sounds in the piece (for example, people speaking behind me, a golf truck roaring past me), leading to several very unnerving experiences!

With only two weeks to create our own soundwalk, we’ll have to see what we come up!