Category Archives: School

Civics and Arts Practice

New Herberger Institute of Design and Arts (HIDA) Institute Professor Michael Rohd and his HDA 494/598 Civic Body: Art and Public Health class have been running graduate workshops with invited professionals and advanced graduate students to help his students frame their own work. Each guest uses civic engagement as part of their art, activism or other practice. This report includes descriptions of the sessions themselves and the two main methods Professor Rohd used to encourage dialogue.

Sessions

I participated in two sessions with the class as part of the GISER  (Graduates in Integrative Society & Environment Researchstudent group and my interests in transdisciplinary and participatory design practice. The main group was a class of graduate students being run by Professor Rohd and other participants included members of the Center for Performance and Civic Practice (CPCP) and Sojourn Theatre and members of the ASU community. Several participants at the seminars had backgrounds not specifically related to health but all either had a creative practice, had worked in healthcare, worked in some related field or all of the above.

The first session involved meeting with the students in HDA 494/598 in a set of interview-and-report discussions. Each guest discussed their work in relation to civic practice with a few students, then the students reported to each other their findings. This was followed by a general discussion. Topics included sustainability (especially of arts), systems, connectivity, finding common language and academic silos. Questions that emerged included what are the incentives to communicate; and whether breaking down barriers is enough returning value. One participant suggested figuring out how to build community in splendid ways. Another suggested that even labels such as ‘creative capital’ & ‘social justice’ are already silos.

University-specific topics included critique of practices that turn universities into “management tools instead of places of investigation” and the university as a place of “ideological warfare”. One participant, who researches a vulnerable population described it as “I don’t want somebody else’s non-freedom to pay for me.” Another topic discussed was the difference between caring about an issue and actual policy and budget prioritizations that make a difference.

The second session involved more participants from outside the class, including members of CPCP and Sojourn who were visiting as part of a workshop series. Held in the old Ceramics Research Center, it featured a huge whiteboard wall that was used for recording questions on.

Some of those questions involved the civic body, health and how art can stitch fields together. Another topic was the difference between working in “intersectional space” versus silos. On the whiteboards, Professor Rohd had written a definition and six questions.

The group discussed the definitions of Civic Body posted, see image below. After some discussion the phrase, “Civic Body: embedding new practices into existing organizations.” was used as a working definition.

  1. What are challenges for your field for working on current problem?
  2. Who frames the challenges, priorities and goals in your field?
  3. What does your field strongly disagree about?
  4. In what ways do you currently collaborate to solve problems?
  5. What partners are in other fields who might help tackle issues in your field?
  6. What supports you working with these partners and what barriers?

Some of the discussion around these questions and the group’s answers included creating new “grassroots think tanks” around emerging issues and wicked problems. A student said they liked the “Yes, and…” energy in the room. Yes-And is used in design research, improvisational acting and other fields as a potent dialogic spur. Slowing down to experience the world and the gap between attention spans and current profit models was brought up, with a suggestion to stop for a moment and figure it out. Time and attention span came up repeatedly as enablers and limiters in both sessions.

A participant indicated that we were using many “connector” words – Doer, Maker and that we were discussing a lot of community versus individual work. Another pointed out that one person’s barriers are another’s support system. Another suggested that where money comes from, for arts in particular, influences the work. Both philanthropic organizations and Federal government funding affect the work while effecting it. This boiled down to what one participant described as “Do we actually have to have buy-in from large organizations to get the work done?”

One of the visiting performers described their personal work as working inside and dissolving fields. They also expressed an interest in why various work but centered around creative, non-profit performative arts has become so professionalized.

A guest graduate student suggested that people work together when their success is interdependent. Figuring out where and why to highlight communities of interdependence was the challenge. This also related to the discussion on time and attention spans.

A student said that often all the intelligence needed for community change exists inside that community. Often the only thing lacking is the resources to effect change. Collaboration is popular, but messy and it’s often uncertain how to collaborate. One student wanted to know what it means to be an infiltrator or accomplice and whether people are, or should be willing, to disrupt the status quo? The first  student said that there was lot of imposed language and that sharing dialogue before actual work begins is useful. They also said that struggle achieves equity. One of the guests wanted to know if the concepts connected with the reality of change and emphasized how important spirt is. All agreed that change and collaboration are messy and hard but needed.

Professor Rohd suggested a tactic for change was to turn allies into partners and that this leads to action. The critical question any organization needs to answer is how to build alliances that thrive in the struggle encountered? A guest suggested bonding time among collaborators helped and constantly doing things to maintain participant interest.

Another participant mentioned the importance of time, that sometimes a project needs twenty years to achieve it’s full potential. Some things work best when created quickly, some need these long incubations. Community means different things to different people, said another day-to-day survival is what leads to change, terms like social justice and community organization are tools, language.

There is a Tragic Gap that according to Rohd is the difference between “What does home mean to you?” and “How do we provide equitable housing?” This gap includes water, housing, infrastructure and institutional access inequities. Dangers include undoing other organization’s work or being involved in dreamy instead of grounded work. Grounding language and supporting infiltrators, disruptors and other allies inside institutions could be useful tools.

Pictures of the filled out question boards from the second session. A wide range of opinions and needs were expressed but all center on ways of engaging people, institutes and capabilities together.

Methods

The active discussion phase of the dialogue circle. The moderator is in green, students in gold and guests in maroon.

Generally, the methods used by Professor Rohd in these sessions were to encourage dialogue between participants. Any props such as notebooks, whiteboards or laptops were curated to remain as backdrop, even while prompting vigorous discussion. This is similar to the Dialogue Circles by Glenn Aparicio Parry of the former SEED Graduate Institute, but with whiteboards instead of talking sticks.

The active listening/student discussion phase of the dialogue circle. The moderator is in green, students in gold and guests in maroon.

Both sessions centered around a dialogue model that involves cycles of expansion and contraction, with participants being active listeners for a while then active discussers. Some of it happens organically, but the cycle between listening from the outside and being part of the discussion encourages reflection in a way that just being in a circle can limit.

The first session with the class consisted of a series of interview, report and discussion activities. Guests were matched up with pairs of students who had done some research and prepared questions for the visitors. The Q&A lasted about 10 minutes, followed by the students comparing notes in a circle. After that they brought the guests into the circle to talk. The session was finished with the guests having a few minutes to discuss while the students just listened.

The second session featured introductions and a short discussion on definitions, especially of the term Civic Body. This was followed with each guest having 30 seconds to answer each of the six questions on the wall. This fast format worked well with the questions posed because it kept everyone on point.  The questions were generic across practices and framed to spur short answers, which helped make it engaging. This data-gathering phase only lasted a few minutes. These question boards provided a record to discuss over for the rest of the session.

After the questions the guests gathered together and talked about the results. Then the students gathered in an inner circle and talked about the results, then brought the guests into the circle to continue through a final Q&A session. This cycle of discourse contraction and expansion can be repeated for longer workshops. It provides alternating analytic and observational phases for all participants. These formats could be combined with Six Thinking Hats technique, roleplaying or possibly some forms of active listening. Journaling segments and more cycles of contraction and expansion could be added during a longer session.

Participating in one of these sessions would have been interesting enough. Both sessions featured some great discussion and Professor Rohd’s techniques can be applied to almost any discussion session.

References

  • De Bono, E. (1985). Six thinking hats (1st U.S. ed.). Boston: Little, Brown.
  • http://originalthinking.us/

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Welcome to Mars | Fab Lab Tempe/DC Incubator Test 01

Overview

Welcome to Mars puts you in the rover next to Max as he fixes radios, robots and relays while remaining emotionally unavailable to his hacker coworker Aubrey. Max is a disgruntled technician working out his five-year contract on the surface of Mars, Aubrey is somewhere within radio range. Their employer is Red Ram Energy Drinks, LLC, they are in space to prove that Red Ram NITRO EDITION is the only energy drink tough enough to colonize another planet.

Welcome to Mars is an upcoming short film being developed by Connor Coffman (DC 2016). It is being produced over the second half of 2016. Welcome to Mars started as part of Connor’s coursework in ASU’s Digital Media program and has grown into a test-case for the DC Incubator.

This is Connor’s first film project.

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The mostly-complete suit.

As a test of the DC Incubator system Welcome to Mars provides an exact test case. Connor recently finished in Digital Culture program and has an interest in integrating the entire chain of production. He has been working on the concept for Welcome to Mars for years but only recently started to put production of it together. It combines fabrication, product development, cinema and critical analysis of potential cultural situations.

The film, trailers and other material will be entered into various festivals and film competitions.

Welcome to Mars is more than just space fantasy. It looks into issues of corporate power, individual agency, unintended consequences and the inherent nihilism of existence. Welcome to Mars aims to be a technically accurate, politically & socially acute examination of space exploration and human development as it seems to be evolving.


Welcome to Mars teaser and suit movement test:

The Story

Well, that’s the surprise.

( a disgruntled roboto technician goes to Mars as part of the RED RAM mission. Hilarity, ennui and long drives in a lychen-transformed desert ensue. )

Team

Connor Coffman — Director, writer, editor, plays ‘Max’, etc.

Joshua Gigantino — Producer, Technical Consultant, etc.

Shooting Locations

Welcome to Mars is being shot on location… in Arizona. Specific sites include the Monarch Theater in Phoenix, local industrial sites, Arizona desert locations (the perfect stand-in for a partially terraformed Mars), and studio sets.

Suit Development

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Dr. Paul Webb’s Space Activity Suit (SAS), a Mechanical Counter Pressure spacesuit. It was successfully tested in an altitude chamber at 38,000′ equivalent in the 1970s. Admire that ‘stache. Retrieved from www.elasticspacesuit.com on 10.12.2011.

The suit is representative of what is called a Mechanical Counter Pressure spacesuit (MCP). This is a type of vacuum garment that uses fabric pressure drawn across the skin to protect the wearer. The effect is somewhat like a wetsuit or thick leotard. These suits were tested successfully in the 1970s by Annis & Webb (1971) and have been in off-and-on development since, notably through Dava Newman’s team at MIT’s Man-Vehicle Lab with their Bio-Suit concept and by Akin & Korona with their work on MCP gloves.

The Welcome to Mars suit provides certain functionality tests and usage examples for daily activities during hypothetical  Mars surface activity. These include extended periods of driving in unprepared or semi-prepared terrain, tasks in non-optimal conditions, equipment malfunctions with minimal support and other potentially lethal events.

It is built on top of a go-kart jumpsuit, motocross chest protector and skydiving helmet. The backpack or PLSS is custom designed. Normal boots and gloves are being used, the boots in a similar way to how Mercury astronaut suits were worn, the gloves are a stand-in.

Suit Development 

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Sketches

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AlpineStars K-MX 5S Go-Kart suit

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Hard Upper Torso. HUT is based on motocross chest protector.

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Inspiration can be found in popular media as well as old NASA research. Promo shots from Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.

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Suit buckle.
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Inspiration from reality. Dava Newman in MIT’s Bio-Suit mockup. Retrieved 20.09.2016 from https://mvl.mit.edu/sites/default/files/images/Newman_biosuit.jpg

Backpack Development

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Helmet Development

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Finished helmet with Red Ram branding.

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Skydiving Helmet.

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Inspiration from Baumgartner’s Red Bull helmet.

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Another example of a lighter-weight space suit helmet. NASA Space Shuttle helmet, mid-1980s. Clamshell based on Navy helmet model HGU-20/P.

 

 

Fit & Movement Test

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Cropped screengrabs from Teaser video.

Other Props

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Handheld Contoller.

Other props being developed for Welcome to Mars include a rover based on a dune buggy, handheld controller device, Aubrey’s cockpit and other sets. We are attempting to use as much actual space-related hardware and existing but modified equipment as possible. One interesting item is a small satellite ground station donated by the local hackerspace HeatSync.

Red Ram Brand Development

Red Ram is tough, aggressive, in-your-face, no-bull ENERGY for the modern liquid consumer’s hydration needs. Packed with caffeine, electrolytes and our special mix of mood enhancers, Red Ram NITRO EDITION brings new meaning to the word ENERGY.

The brand concept and overall action is based on Red Bull’s work with Felix Baumgartner and Monster energy drinks. Red Ram is specifically marketed to young men with nothing to lose except the Amero credits in their pocket. They regularly hold stunts, sponsor extreme sports events and storm the heavens.

Red Ram brand development
nitro_edition_vz_1_720 Monochrome vector illustration of a stylised ram
red_ram_logo_1024 download-3

Production Tools

The teaser was cut in Resolume, the trailer and movie will be cut in Adobe Premiere. A variety of digital video cameras are being employed in production.

A Creative Roadmap for DC Incubation

Welcome to Mars’ production provides a ready model for a Digital Culture Incubator. The scenario is that a finishing DC student needs a little more mentoring, production, fabrication or just other’s to help maintain a pace on a worthwhile project. ASU has amazing startup channels such as Edson Institute but these tend to be for projects that are almost ready for market. A DC Incubator would provide students with a framework and access so they can then utilize other channels toward final fruition.

As a stand-in for an ASU-based workshop while building out Welcome To Mars equipment and props this summer, Connor has relied on HeatSync Labs in Mesa. HeatSync is a local hackerspace that provides access to some fabrication tools and lots of community input.

The only element missing as an initial test-case for a DC incubator is other teams actively mentored under the same system working side-by-side.

Conclusion

Welcome to Mars initial production has been largely successful in that in 3 months of summer work Connor has built most of a prop spacesuit, accompanying material and put together most of the production chain for shooting in cooler temperatures this autumn. A first treatment of a script has been written along with supporting text. An autumn shooting schedule is being implemented.

References

Annis, J. & Webb, P. Development of a Space Activity Suit. (NASA report CR-1892)  (1971). LARC, Hampton, VA.

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Icons for eight principles of Common-Pool Resource governance

Overview

Design Principle IconsDeveloped during Spring 2016, this icon set represents Ostrom’s eight design principles for common-pool resource governance. The icons are being used as part of the NSF-funded  When Strengths Can Become Weaknesses project for outreach in four countries and an upcoming edition of the International Journal of the Commons.

The icons and associated media support the discussion being led by Professor J. Marty Anderies at Arizona State University’s Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment. The icon system was developed in collaboration with CBIE professors and graduate students.

Deliverables have included the icons for the IJC issue, a color wheel, palette, supplementary graphics, brochure layout collaboration and the icon masters. These files are currently hosted on a private GitHub page and shared in Dropbox.

 
1. 2.
Design Principles
for
Common Pool
Resource
Governance
&
Institutional
Analysis
Defined Boundaries
Clearly Defined Boundaries
 Proportional EquivalenceProportional
Equivalence
 3. 4.  5. 
Collective Choice Arrangements
Collective Choice Arrangements
MonitoringMonitoring Graduated Sanctions
Graduated Sanctions
6. 7. 8.
 Conflict Resolution
Conflict Resolution
Rights To Organize
Rights To Organize
Nested Enterprises
Nested Enterprises

Background

cpr_diagram
Diagram explaining the basic terminology layers and differences among commons researchers, specifically between the NSF and ASU.

The broader research project is based on political economist Eleanor Ostrom’s 2009 Nobel Prize-winning work into governance, recognized for having “challenged the conventional wisdom by demonstrating how local property can be successfully managed by local commons without any regulation by central authorities or privatization” (2014).  Commons are a type of institution determined by human need and agreement as resources available for a larger subset of the public than just an individual or corporation’s particular use.  Ostrom founded CBIE at ASU in summer 2006 along with Professors Anderies and Janssen.

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Bi-fold brochure for cross-lingual output. Developed with Skaidra Smith-Heisters.

First use of the icon set was in a brochure available in English and Thai, next intended for versions in Chinese and Spanish. The brochure communicates the results of an investigation into farmer’s participation in shared social and physical infrastructure. The study was conducted in Columbia, Thailand, China and Nepal, involving 118 rice-producing agricultural communities and involved Chiang Mai University, the International Water Management Institute, the Asian Institute of Technology, Universidad de los Andes and ASU’s CBIE. It draws further results from experimental tests at ASU using a five-person irrigation game and two formal dynamical models. The study is funded under National Science Foundation grant GEO-1115054 as “When Strengths Can Become Weaknesses: Emerging Vulnerabilities in Coupled Natural Human Systems under Globalization and Climate Change.”

The icon set was developed pro-bono as student research in
approximately 40 hours.

Process

The icons were developed using an iterative sketching process based on initial brainstorming done previously by the CBIE. These sketches were then tested using a set of Google Forms. CBIE specialists ranked and voted on each icon to develop messaging consensus. All attempts were made to ensure the icons are relevant across cultural and language boundaries.

Pen-inked line art was scanned into Adobe Illustrator 6, converted to single color line art then built up into the icon images. Sections of the drawings, for example the hands in #4 Collective Choice Arrangements or #6 Conflict Resolution, were drawn separately and composited as vectors in Illustrator.

An example of the development process can be seen here in the progress to finalizing #7 Rights to Organize.

 1. CBIE Brainstorm 2. CBIE Brainstorm 3. CBIE Internal Feedback
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4. First sketches to CBIE

Development Process for
#7 Rights to Organize

 5. Second round drawing
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6. Feedback Quiz 7. Approved line art 8. Final Art in color
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One aspect of icon development that was proposed but discarded as duplicative was a set of wayfinding icons based on a set of three short bars and one long bar in various configurations. This was envisioned as tools for page layouts and possibly brainstorming sessions. The main icon set appears to work well enough for these purposes that the wayfinding icons weren’t needed.

The color wheel and palette are derived from photos of research sites and sessions in Columbia and desert sunsets in Arizona. The original photographs are from the project or original works. Histograms of regions of the photographs were explored using PixelStick software, matched to Itten’s color theories with special attention to what Itten (1970) refers to as “color chords”, a couple of stock color wheels and a Pantone set for verification with a 4-color process. The subtle tones and hues of sunsets, cacti, red Columbian irrigation ditches, sun-bleached concete and pale tropical sky present a bright, comfortable and immediately familiar palette.

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Color WheelThe final palette tool is a color wheel that can be used to pick sets of complimentary colors along with binary and trinary colors. The successive inner rings are related compliments for use with the eight main colors as outlines, shadows, details and trim colors. The inner three rings are the sky and concrete lights and silhouette darks for backgrounds and other base graphic elements.

Conclusion

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International Journal of the Commons screenshot using the icons, as retrieved on 19.09.2016.

This project produced a set of icons for use in print, new media, rural outreach as well as dialogic policy development. They are currently in use in the International Journal of the Commons and in outreach material from CBIE. The project also produced a color palette and tools based on images related to the research. A range of supplementary material was also produced.

This project was an interesting collaboration with a dynamic group of mixed-methods social scientists. The project attempted to create tools that would be relevant and useful to them, their international research partners and collaboration partners in rice-farming areas worldwide.


References

  • NobelPrize.Org Editorial Staff (2014 ). Nobel Media AB 2014. Retrieved from http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economic-sciences/laureates/2009/ostrom-facts.html
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elinor_Ostrom#Design_principles_for_Common_Pool_Resource_.28CPR.29_institutions
  • https://www.thecommonsjournal.org/30/volume/10/issue/2/
  • https://cbie.asu.edu/
  • Itten, J., & Birren, F. (1970). The elements of color: A treatise on the color system of Johannes Itten, based on his book The art of color. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co.
Grain Bags
Grain bags having fun after playing on the see-saw in #2 Proportional Equivalence.

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THRESHOLD I

Nate Greene’s May 2, 2016 Masters performance, titled THRESHOLD I, tells the story of two characters: Pepe’ the Hero (in white) and his nemesis, Quetzl the Dragon, who chases Pepe’ through the world. The Dragon was a video-projection-mapped dragon character with live texture-mapping.

Image courtesy Nathan Greene
Image courtesy Nathan Greene

THRESHOLD was a motion-mapped, augmented, participatory theatrical piece. With projections on both the Hero and Dragon, it brings into question how technology might “extract individual identity” by overlaying alternate realities. This hero’s journey explores the self-aware transformation required to fulfill a quest.

A three-piece orchestra provided a live soundtrack. The performance also involved an online component called “the Participatron” that people could use by uploading tagged images to Instagram. These were then mixed into the projected video.

The story involves an awakening with the hero in dream-like light. This is followed by a jungle and failure then falling.  The situation is resolved with a reawakening and balance. Here is Nathan’s video of the show:

This project evolved from the Pepe the Lamp Hero project,  part of AME 598 Understanding Activity in Fall of 2014, performed in December 2014 at the Digital Culture Showcase. Nathan used our motion mapping code and the Lamp Hero experience as a base for THRESHOLD to great effect. 

My role was as co-producer & stage manager for the main performance, project consultant and motion-capture & video technician. Here is time-lapse documentation of the show, shot on a Canon T3, 28mm lens and Polaroid timer.


The full crew involved:

Costumes – RuthAnne Greer/Renee Aguilar/Nathaniel Jack Green

Participatron – Aaron Hill, Nathaniel Jack Greene

Music – Written by Alex Kohli, Randy Greer, Stephen Helms Tillery, Nathaniel Jack Greene

Mocap – Pavan Taruga, Varsha Iyengar, Nathaniel Jack Greene, Qiao Wang

MotionMapping – Nathaniel Jack Greene, Varsha Iyengar, Prashant Seshasayee

3D Rigging and Mesh – Zachary Robinson

Technical Director – Nathaniel Jack Greene

Virtual Puppetry Performance – Nathaniel Jack Greene

Quetzalcoatl – Georgann Prince, Ruth Anne Greer, Varsha Iyengar

Stage Manager – Joshua Gigantino

Projection Systems – Andy Stavro and Roaddogs Show Pros, Phoenix, AZ

Projectionist – Cooper Sang Yoo, Nathaniel Jack Greene

Video equipment – Broadcast Rentals, Tempe, AZ

Executive Producers – Xin Wei Sha, Todd Ingalls, Nathaniel Jack Greene

Special thanks to the Katherine K. Herberger Scholarship, School of Arts, Media and Engineering

Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts |Fulton Schools of Engineering

Arizona State University

Director – Nathaniel Greene


 

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VidGrid Interactive Installation

Project VidGrid

VidGrid was a short 10-day project in David Tinapple’s AME598 Media Installations class. This project uses an OptiTrack motion capture suite and projected video to present an introduction of the class. The 40+ students in the class each made two introductory videos each that are laid out in a grid. When the user moves around, the video under them changes to a different video track.

Project VidGrid


 


The Proposal:
Project VidGrid (Joshua, Varsha, Henry, Prashanth & Connor)

The goal is to make a pleasant if somewhat creepy experience of the class staring at you. As one navigates through the space, the students they are directly facing will introduce themselves.

Project VidGrid is an installation using motion-capture and two selections of student video. It will consist of a projected grid of student face videos that align to a person walking through the space. When they stop over a grid space, the eight videos around them switch to the student introduction videos, all oriented to the user.

The positioning will use the B127 Optitrack motion-capture system and ceiling-mounted floor projector combined with a laptop running the video application. The application will be a combination of Processing and any other glue logic needed. Given enough time/CPUs/luck, the tiles of each video will be projected in 3D OpenGL code so that they appear to follow the user. The plan is to provide baseball caps rigged for motion capture to provide 6DOF head tracking of users. An attempt will be made to make the system multiuser but this is unlikely.

This project builds on several team members experience in AME598 Understanding Activity in using the motion capture rig in B127.

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archKit

Title: archKit (Architectural Kit)

Name: Joshua Gigantino

Quote: “Schematics never fully prepare you for the real thing.” – Admiral Patterson, Star Trek: Voyager, Relativity

Description: archKit is a first step in building a life-size rapid prototyping or sketching system for architects. A kit of full-sized, projection-ready wall panels are presented along with a reconfigurable ceiling to provide a first system of rapid prototyping for architecture.

archKit in AME's iStage, 9 December, 2014.
archKit in AME’s iStage, 9 December, 2014.

The system is intended to explore the quality of light in space in the context of defining the negative space needs of the architectural design process organically inside an experiential collaboration framework.

As shown December 9th, 2014, the kit consists of 7 interlocked panels of wood and muslin fabric. Together they form a 28’ (8.5m) wall or a 64^2’ room, a hut, wall or hogan with included fabric doorway. Hogan are 8-sided Dene (Navajo) structures that mean “Sacred enclosure” according to Nabokov & Easton (1989). Similar ritual and functional spaces existed among the Hohokam, Hopi and other Puebla nations. archKit includes a simple adjustable roof that can move between peaked and flat configurations.  A simple re-rigging would enable the roof to also form 2-, 4- and 8- fold peaks to follow these various Puebla people’s architectures along with geodesic domes and yurt structures.

Significance:

Architecture is the construction of thoughtful shelter or the “human-based differentiation” of physical space by the “creation of a BOUNDARY” according to Alexander (2002) . Architecture’s roots are in ancient permanent structures, temporary shelter and the definition of space. Examples of these three states include the Parthenon atop Athen’s Akropolis, ancient North American Tipi tents and palisade walls of wood or cloth.

archKit provides the basics for realizing full-scale prototyping of architectural projects. This is in direct contrast to the standard process of sketching leading to small models to CAD renderings. It allows architects and others to participate in a more hands-on approach.

Alexander makes a point of boundaries, centers and “emerging wholeness”. CAD systems can “just as easily create a monstrosity as something good.” because “There is no such thing as neutrality in such matters.” Instead, Alexander starts by sketching with small bits of material to “find out what harmonious volume would unfold from the site itself.” This process continues on-site with full-size wall segments and materials tests in ever more accurate design spirals that eventually lead to a complete solution.

Current implementation is a ‘Wizard of Oz’ approach of obvious theatrics involving simple projection and artist’s tape combined with narrative components. Further implementations will use AME iStage systems and other digital sensing to present increasing levels of fidelity to these kinds of architectural simulation.

Presenting a scenario in wall configuration.
Presenting a scenario in wall configuration.

Further systems will include wrap-around graphics for environmental/in-situ placement, digital manipulation of window and other elements. Critical digital elements should include accurate projection of horizon, slope, water drainage, sun angles and accessibility features.

Janich (1984) writes that “A topological space is a pair consisting of a set and a set of subsets”. In this project that set is the iStage blackbox theater, the subsets are the defined and undefined spaces generated by the archKit. Typically, the projector system and supporting computers are part of the closed set of the theatrical/studio space and the wall system provides an open set of enclosed space.Topologically the boundary should not exist but with feedback from architects it is clear that the walls need to be significantly thickened. The current panel set is only 7 panels, additional sets would modify but not negate this open set. In wall configuration the panels still define a space.

In creating a performance out of a design practice, elements of Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty organically emerge from the process. The audience are the performers, the only spectators were technicians and students maintaining the iStage’s technical systems, even they became actors inside the closed topological set. Artaud (1934) writes of a goal to make “…theater a believable reality which gives the heart and the senses that kind of of concrete bite which all true sensation requires.” Creating a prototyping system for a specialist field requires that believable reality be as representative and high-fidelity as possible while maintaining flexibility to improvise.

Goals:

Semester Goals:

Highlight Color Explorer – rapid iterations of color for accent walls and other interior exploration.

Mobility – Light, mobile panels that can be quickly reconfigured.

5-8 Panels – Seven panels allows for a simple room to long wall.

Experiment with LEDs for color illumination.

Long-term Development Goals:

Wall Tracking: using RFID or optical tracking for wall positioning.

Interactive wall interfaces for color selection, windows, etc.

Sound Space: changes echo with size and shape of wall using convolution reverb.

DWG output: flat architectural CAD file output.

Wall-thickness units of dense foam.

Produce open-source stack of equipment plus bill of materials for architects and others to build and use as needed.

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Materials:

Wall Panels

1×2” spruce strapping

plywood

108” bleached muslin fabric

screws

eye-screws

paracord

Roof/Ceiling

Plastic sheeting

Mason’s twine

paracord

Video Projector

Methods:

archKit is being developed using action-research and ethnographic approaches. Current methodology is purely qualitative. A more quantitative approach can be achieved when archKit is fully digital with wall sections and people able to be tracked. Construction of the current set of panels consisted of assembling spruce strapping and muslin cloth panels in the AME FabLab. Ethnographic research has consisted of interviews and brainstorming sessions with two Architecture graduate students at the Design School at ASU who both have interests in hybrid digital-physical systems.

Three forms of color projection are being explored. First, using video projection for full color and motion graphics, but also Arduino-powered NeoPixel LEDS and a generic multicolor LED lighting strip.

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LED color tests.
LED color tests.

Construction was with spruce strapping cut to length and mitred together with small braces for stability. 108” white muslin cloth was then stretched and stapled over it. Eye-screws were attached at top and bottom to complete each panel. The panels were then lashed together with paracord into a 7 panel array. The arrangement is mostly self-standing. A simple roof structure was rigged using paracord, mason’s twine and translucent construction plastic. Materials were kept as simple and construction-oriented as possible to provide a familiar environment for architects.

Testing has so far been conducted only in final critique. archKit will continue to be developed as a deployable component or kit for AME to spur collaboration.

Simple roof system can simulate flat and peaked coverings.
Simple roof system can simulate flat and peaked coverings.

Ethnographic notes:

Interviews with two architectural graduate students that are now collaborating on the project:

AF interview notes:

Roof & Foundation are critical to avoid just an interior paneling system. Light angles, drainage and domes need to be considered.

Book: Architectural Graphic Standards

Floor grid-system – IT style lifted floor or elevated floor tiles.

 

JC interview notes:

Interior panel partitions that mimic thickness of real walls. Office partitions crossed with SIPS panels.

Accessibility prototyping will be big – ramps, handholds, etc

System integration with BIM

Ingress/Egress prototyping

Lobby prototyping

Small scale mockups for high-tech buildings like hospitals and urgent care facilities.

Phoenix vs. Chicago: very different building materials. How to take into account?

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Connectors and stowage.

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References:

Alexander, C. (2002) The Process of Creating Life. Berkeley, CA. Center for Environmental Structure.

Artaud, A. (1934) The Theater and It’s Double. Unknown translation or publisher.

Janich, K. (1984) Topology. Silvio Levy, Trans. New York, NY. Springer-Verlag.

Nabokov, P. & Easton, R. (1989). Native American Architecture. New York, NY. Oxford University Press.

 

 

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