PHYSICAL EXPRESSIONS

This project was about thinking beyond the screen. Usually, when we work on projects in Interaction Design it is a screen based outcome. We were told to think of physical input and/or output. So the principal theme for the project was "Physical".
For the submission, we had to create a piece that expresses something physically and submit it as a documentation video.

WEEK 1 & 2

LAUNCH

The launch was followed by a small workshop on how to think and prototype when we don't have many resources. We studied large-scale artworks and tried to decompose and think about how to make them without much. It was really interesting and especially useful to start the project in this mindset as it cleared out some fears. Indeed having no studio/workshop has definitely reduced our range of possibilities, but we had to work with it.
We also looked at different routes for this project, it can be kinetic with motors or spatial with light and/or sound.

The project is 4 weeks which is really good as we can build up a strong idea and have a good amount of time to make it + shoot the video.

WORKSHOPS

For this project, we had 4 different workshops spread on the 2 first weeks, and all 4 very varied. Having learned the basic knowledge over year2 and this year's 1st semester with Control, Imagined Environment, Sense and Sensibility, it was really nice to enrich this skillset with a range of workshops. We looked at, as I said, prototyping methods, recording traces, and capacitive touch sensors. Then we looked at motors and how to communicate with serial. And Finally, we looked at exporting high definition visuals from processing to use for printing / 3D printing, plus a little MIDI communication overview.

These were incredibly useful as we looked at a very wide range of technologies and processes and really helped me frame what's potentially possible for the project.

------ UPDATE -------

RESEARCH & REFLECTION (LJ IMPROVEMENT)

For this project I made some secondary research and collected references that inspired me. I thought I included it in my LJ, but I've apparently missed it, so here it is.

I was interested by moving sculpture with an abstract visual output.

First, Benjamin Muzzin's "Full Turn", an Ipad turning on itself and augmenting the visual from its screen to an illusion of an hologram. I really like the process of using a material and finding a way of transforming it's main use into a new perspective/application.

Second, I was really intrigued by the use of textiles and paper and their augmentation with motors.
The main references for this is the Meadow lights by Studio Drift but also a wide range of works by Pinaffo & Pluvinage duo.
They focused on the use of coloured papers and made them interactive with little touch sensitive controls or other processes. They also can be automated and be more like sculptural artefacts rather than interactive pieces.

Voir cette publication sur Instagram

Une publication partagée par Pinaffo Pluvinage (@marionpinaffo)

Third, the very simple of cuts through paper in graphic design allow an augmentation of the physical flat support is something really interesting. Having a new perspective with holes is a very intriguing idea.

Voir cette publication sur Instagram

Une publication partagée par AIGA Eye on Design (@aigaeyeondesign)


Voir cette publication sur Instagram

Une publication partagée par Novembre Global (@novembreglobal)

And finally, slightly following the third references with perspective and holes. I was interested to look at Kriskadecor curtain concept made with metal. Letting lots of light go through but creating a physical barrier between spaces. It inspired me to try different layout and add multiple layers.

I really focused on looking at a large spectrum of materials and processes in my research. I first focused on paper based artworks but i became interested to look at screens but also metal etc. The first reference inspired me to work on this augmentation of something and create an entire new thing (screen to a hologram). Looking at paper, I realised, this was a very achievable route given the context and limited resources. I think the cuts concept and the fact you could animate then like Pinaffo and Pluvinage duo did really pushed me to use and start experiment with them.

IDEA / RESEARCH

I dedicated the first two weeks to my research and idea development. The first raw thoughts I had for this project was to work with paper. Given the situation, it was a relatively accessible material and had a massive output potential.
Then I started to think about this whole theme of "beyond the screen" and started to list some things that I could tie to this word physical.

- Sense (see, touch, smell)
- Relating to the body
- Property of matter
- Violence
- Tangible / Palpable
- Strong
- Tiring

Then I did the same with this concept of having a screen and then trying to think what would it be without:

- Displaying images or data
- Addiction to screen (infinite scrolling on social media, or addiction to games)
- Touch interfaces
- Moving graphics

So having all these interesting subjects and my own design interests I tried to combine some of these and build up potential routes. Having recently my formative assessment I was encouraged to go out of my comfort zone and explore more stuff. So I engaged myself to not work on some poster project and either on a typography project. Working with lights and sound is also quite familiar for me, so all that is left is coding and kinetics! I was enchanted because I never worked with motors and it's a thing I always wanted to explore.

I developed 3 of them which I was drawn the most to:

- Addiction: Can we recreate an ultra satisfactory piece where interactions become addictive
- Entertainment: If we were to replace screens, how would it look like?
- Dependance: What if we need crucial data? can we recreate this?

While I was researching and developing these concepts I also looked at visual references. I knew I wanted to work with paper, but I wasn't sure yet about how I want to get involved with it.

I gathered in a padlet all the references I found interesting.

First I admire the work of the Pinaffo & Pluvinage duo on their creativity with paper outputs. This is one of the reasons i really wanted to work with paper. I also liked the different types of textures you could get from paper, with holes or special cuts.

Then I was also really interested in the mechanics of kinetic artwork. I was intrigued by the different types of movement that could be created and therefore visual/spatial expression they could do. I particularly liked 'Sound of Links' by ECAL student Diane Becheras, Zimoun's various types of installations, and Yuri Suzuki's Furniture music. Although these are all sound-oriented, I was more interested in the movement and staging of these artworks. I was also intrigued by Benjamin Muzzin, Full Turn artwork where a spinning Ipad can reproduce almost a hologram visual.
I also loved Studio Drift projects on lights for two museums in Amsterdam. I found the whole concept of working with a linear movement but creating such an output, really interesting, almost mesmerizing.

Made with Padlet

TUTORIAL 1

During the first week's tutorial, I only had a vague idea of the outputs and the types of materials I wanted to use. I was pretty sure about the paper idea.
I presented to Jen the kind of idea I want to explore, a kinetic sculpture with paper. It was quite helpful to have a chat about this because I could figure out which routes of ideas were not developed enough and which were good and interesting. But I was happy that the idea of making a kinetic sort of installations and exploring paper movements made sense. I didn't have any concept so far, but I gave myself the time to think, research, and develop my ideas as this was a 4-week project.

A few days after the tutorial I started to have somewhat of an interesting concept.

RESEARCH & CONCEPT

After the first week of exploring all these potential routes and what that overall theme meant to me, I started to really like the 3 ideas I've selected.

- Addiction: Can we recreate an ultra satisfactory piece where interactions become addictive
- Entertainment: If we were to replace screens, how would it look like?
- Dependance: What if we need crucial data? can we recreate this ? can we display it another way?

I really like the question about replacing screens. Is it possible to replace them entirely with physical expressions? or are there limits to that?

So I started to work on developing this question and thinking of potential outputs.

I was drawn to make a little series of little structures exploring different situations where we replaced screens with paper. There's an interesting regression here and augmenting the paper with motors seemed an interesting path to explore. So I wanted to make 3 or 4 little outputs as part of a series trying to depict what type of applications and what concepts of a screen reside in each of these explorations. Users will have to interact almost the same way, but the output will be physical.

Addiction.
Sometimes we fall into some infinite content consumption and end up scroll through social media apps for hours a day. I found this very interesting and was wondering if that could be the case with a satisfying set of graphics moving the right way.

Entertainment.
Screens are now the main source of entertainment, we play our music through our phones or computer, watch a massive amount of tv, shows, movies, and play games whenever and wherever we want.
Media entertainment without display still exists, there are books, magazines, radio, CDs, vinyl, theatre, Concerts, and pretty much any social events.
So in this case can I create a kinetic piece that is entertaining? then I thought it could actually be super beneficial for kids are screen isn't really recommended at a young age to prevent this potential screen and content consumption addiction. So I was thinking of a playful piece with playful colours and shapes that would be entertaining for younger ages? (as putting up kinetic sculpture of stuff moving would seem boring after 2min for most adults?)

Dependance.
We depend a lot on our phones and on very little stuff. For example, I don't have a clock nor a watch, I just rely on my phone or computer. There's a lot of little information that we have on our phones that we depend on. If suddenly we were to lose it or break it we feel almost naked in some cases.
This is obviously pushed to the extreme but it can happen sometimes.

IDEA REFLECTION

So having layed all these concepts and ideas I started to reflect on them. "Why?" was the big question. Is it worth/communicative enough? Isn't it a bit clumsy in some way?
How can I illustrate these ideas without being clumsy?

Concepts

Each concepts are quite legitimate questions of this potentiality of suddenly having no more screen / or trying to detach ourselves from them.

Output

How can I create a little object that successfully imitates the concept of display and answer this question?

Is the paper an appropriate material for this? Is a kinetic output also effective?

I felt like it could be interesting to look at these concepts and create impactful, yet communicative pieces.

I also realised that in the future I wanted to work on meaningful assignments. I think I clearly communicated some aesthetics paths I wanted to explore and innovate in, although I haven't formulated yet an area of interest in conceptualising my work. So an overall theme and research topic.
I particularly care about how we, as designers, can help our practice improve and innovate. Sensitizing and raising awareness is something I care about more and more about as I believe there's so much potential.

And I guess overall the idea of improving the art & design field is good for both our society and the environment.

I also like this topic of questioning artworks. Where the work is only based on a hypothesis of human behaviour and study it afterward when seeing it.

Sketchbook

All the notes I've took highlighting my thinking and multiple paths I explored on paper.

MATERIALS

Toward the end of the end, it marked my final conceptual idea and concept. I still wanted to have Jen's feedback on this before sticking entirely to a plan. So as I knew relatively what I needed to make the piece I ordered my electronic parts and the papers. I've asked recommendations to Jen on motors before ordering as I didn't know which type of stepper motor I needed depending on the weight of the paper. I also needed multiple ones so it was a perfect advice to get the Elegoo pack of 5 stepper motors!

For the electronic parts, I ordered the pack of 5 stepper motors, a breadboard some jump wires, a 9V battery, and it connection wire. I've also found some fixation for the stepper motors which will ease the whole fixation of the paper to the motor rotor. Additionally, as I knew I had to work with paper, I got a cutting board and precise paper knives.

For the papers, I turned to GF Smiths as they have a massive range of very good quality and relatively affordable papers. They also offer 25% off for students! I ordered some big A0 papers when I got back to Glasgow to document some old projects and I was surprised by the quality of them.
So I decided to order a bunch of A1 and A2 papers (pale green, lavender, Adriatic blue, red, mandarin, light grey, candy pink, strong pink, plum white, and ice white). I think I wasn't sure about the colors yet so I ordered a bit too much that I actually needed, but I can always use it for different stuff.





WEEK 3

TUTORIAL 2

The second tutorial happened in the third week. Since I've only spoken to Jen about the potential output I wanted to work with, and I haven't mentioned any conceptual ideas yet. So we focused the discussion on this.

I've presented my current ideas and thoughts for my concept and layed out different directions I wanted to explore. I wasn't exactly sure what would be the final thing yet, and the output was also slightly vague. I was relying on this interaction to clear things up and finalize my concept.

It really helped me as it is a very meaningful way to ensure my thoughts are in the right direction. Working in lonely environments like now is quite tricky, I'm doubting a lot more. Thanks to the tutorials though I have better confidence in going forward!

FINAL CONCEPT

After the tutorial, I took a day to finalise and reconsider some aspects of my conceptual ideas. As discussed and recommended by Jen, input some human interactions is probably a bit clumsy here. I think it would be more meaningful just to create a series of kinetic sculptures trying to depict aspects of this translation from digital to paper without much distraction elsewhere. I also managed to group the different notions I wanted to express and work on one more simple concept. I think this allowed the piece to be efficiently communicative.

Over the years we've built up an addiction to screens. We're addicted to the infinite content they allow us to consume and keep us entertained whenever we want. What would happen if we didn't have access to screens anymore? How would we replace them?

MIJI explores in a speculative way this potentiality and translates the basic concept of moving images into a physical paper world. The series explores multiple ideas at once, how can a physical piece maybe recreate the mesmerising and addictive effects that screens have on us thanks to a set of intricate illusions. It also explores the complex translation of movement and layering of colors and textures to create convincing animation in a physical world, something we would usually do thanks to animation software. And finally, it explores this new trend of extremely graphical animations we're seeing more and more on websites, social media, and advertising. This is usually seen as loaders, or intro/outro to content that we're about to consume (video intro, loader to a website, etc).

So the final Idea would be to have a series of 2-4 kinetic sculptures evoking these three notions of addiction, entertainment, and dependence.

This is more a speculative approach of how we can maybe recreate the things we had with a screen with a physical medium such as paper. I guess this is not meant to be a revolution, just a potential future concept.

I found it quite interesting to play with different notions and try to bring different interpretations to the pieces with these multiple concepts brought.

EXPERIMENT

Sadly my paper order was delayed which made everything a bit more stressful. I had them only at the end of the third week instead of the beginning of the week. Although that issue forced me to start experiment and prototype solely with motors and random paper bits. Thanks to this process I was able to understand clearly what was technically possible and what I needed to have for the final piece assembly. I also could know what would work best visually.

I started the week by experimenting with Photoshop. I basically started to work layers, patterns, and colors together. I explored very different patterns and shapes first and simulated a circular movement to see how it looked. After 2 full days of explorations, I started to put my photoshop files in After Effect to see how it would really look like with a smooth circular movement.

Some experiments made on photoshop




In the end, I selected 3 three experiments that I really liked and found interesting. I wanted to explore as much as possible that's why I tried very different colours combinations, patterns and layouts.

The 3 experiments I selected


And the final explorations on After Effects

PROTOTYPING

Motors

After the set of digital experimentations, I started to work on practical experimentation and prototyping.
I just started to get one of my new motors working. Weirdly it wasn't the same configuration as the one from the Kit I borrowed. So I had to look up a tutorial on how to get it to work smoothly. It was an issue based in Arduino. The two codes were slightly different but in the end, it did what I wanted, a standard and continuous rotation.



Cutting

Then I started to prototype my cutting. Messing with basic white A4 allowed me to make mistakes so I wouldn't waste the thick coloured paper I had in limited quantity. I was surprised by how formatted our brains are to digital tools. As soon as we have to do some practical thinking we forget that some basic elements are in reality not possible and require very precise technique. Cutting everything to the millimeter was a massive amount of work and took me a lot of time. I printed myself some models I could then pre-cut and draw around on the right paper.

The outlines I used to draw all the guides.



Example of use before cutting

To do my first prototype I cut 2 stars and kept one full page with the star-shaped hole. I started to put them on top of each and see if it actually worked visually in real life. And it did! No as good though because the center had to be super precise between the hole and the star.





Structure

The last step of prototyping was to create and come up with a strong and reliable structure. I needed a structure that could hold the front paper with holes, and then a cardboard piece with the cut papers behind that could be placed in the exact middle. I first started to prototype the support platform that would hold the paper and then experimented with different ways of how I could have the motor in the perfect area and the paper on top of it without them clashing.




I decided to take some poster frames I had in my flat and use the metallic outside piece as the skeleton.


CONCEPT ADJUSTMENTS

Due to the nature of the piece and the technical restrictions, there are some crucial elements to reflect on and adapt to what is possible. As the whole piece partially focuses on the mesmerising and addictive looks of the pieces a large-scale installation would be ideal, but I couldn't create it as I could work a big and personalised wood structure in my flat. So I thought I would keep a 40x50cm set of pieces so it's a manageable size to build and operate.
As I received my papers very late in the project I couldn't try them and send them to a laser cutting studio in time. I had to cut everything very precisely (as much as I could) myself. It took a lot more time, so I had to abandon my wish of creating a fourth exploration.

In the end, it looked like a series of animated posters which was really interesting to have.

PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED

I think the obvious and main issue here was the lack of materials available to us. Not having a studio as a social place is quite daunting and hard to cope with as confidence is dramatically reduced and you kind of end up going crazy in your brain. Then the lack of technical equipment was really problematic as well, everything could have way smoother and better with everything open but obviously, we have to work with that.

Although having to deal with this really stimulated my creativity as I had to find little workarounds and solutions to make everything work. In a way, it was a really fun and satisfying way of working. Finding that you could make nice and delicate things without much was really a nice feeling.

WEEK 4

MAKING

As soon as I received the paper over the weekend I started looking at how the colour looked in real lighting and started to create combinations. I started to do it in photoshop thanks to the GFSmith Colorplan swatch you can download. But it happens that they're not a 100% accurate.

When I finalised my colour combination I updated all the photoshop test + after effect animation to check if everything looked good before actually cutting. (sorry I don't have any screenshot of the previous combination)

One example of final colour combination

When the colours were selected I started cutting the papers. I started with the beige lines piece. It is a very long process. It took me on average 1.5 days to complete one piece every time. The cutting was probably the longest part.








Then I cut a cardboard 40x50cm board. I took some poster frames I had in my flat as the core structure to the piece. So I basically fitted everything according to these 40x50cm frames.
Then I cut a hole for the motor which I then fixed to the board with duct tape. This constituted the background of each piece.




Then onto the rotor side. Once I had all the paper cut I had to create a collage for the moving paper part. I usually took an A4 bit of paper where I glued everything together then stick it to an A4 cardboard piece which is glued to the tiny metal fixation allowing it to screw itself onto the motor shaft. Once I had my paper fixed to the motor I fixed the 40x50cm entire piece to the metal frame and topped it with the front piece of paper with the holes.







I repeated the same process for the next two pieces. The trickiest part was definitely the cutting as I've chosen to use relatively precise designs (sawtooth design, circles, precise angles etc) which are definitely very hard to get when you're cutting without precise machinery. Although I was quite happy with the result. I think from far it works really well, obviously if you look closely it gets a bit uglier.






I realised I could have used printed stuff, but in the end, it didn't feel right. Also having everything made of paper accentuated the satisfactory feeling. It was more natural and better looking in my opinion.

FINAL PIECE

The final piece is a set of 3 kinetic sculptures of 40x50cm. They speculatively explore the potentiality of not having a screen anymore and translate the basic concept of moving images into a physical paper world.
Each piece is made with a frame metal piece, cardboard in the back to attach the motor, paper cut in the front, and a cardboard disc platform inside moved by the motor. The motor is wired to a driver which is wired to an Arduino + 9V battery. The Arduino itself is wired to a computer. I decided to call this project 'Miji', the work of precise paper sculpture made me think of beautiful and timeless Japanese papercraft. That's why I wanted a small reference to this with the Japanese name Miji (beauty and time).

"MIJI explores multiple ideas at once, how can a physical piece maybe recreate the mesmerising and addictive effect that screens have on us thanks to a set of intricate illusions. It also explores the complex translation of movement and layering of colors and textures to create convincing animation in a physical world, something we would usually do thanks to animation software. And finally, it explores this new trend of extremely graphical animations we're seeing more and more on websites, social media and advertising. This is usually seen as loaders or intro/outro."

The series of 3 pieces set for the video documentation.



STAGING CONSIDERATION

As I've mentioned it, the big issue was the final consideration to stage the piece. I would have preferred a larger scale for this piece as the whole thing resides in the powerful visualisation of layers of papers which is quite hard to picture on a smaller scale. that's something I've noticed afterward. Even if the animation looked really convincing on after effect in real life the piece were sometimes less effective due to their smaller size. It was definitely the case with the star piece.

So I had to adapt my entire thinking to set up and present the piece in the video documentation.

STAGING & PRESENTATION

I initially thought it could be interesting to just place the pieces on a wall and film people looking at it, so properly setting a true situational documentation. But as the pieces were quite small filming them from far away wasn't effective at all. So I decided to play with it and go for a slightly more abstract approach.

I filmed the whole documentation on Thursday and edited it overnight.

DOCUMENTATION VIDEO (WRITE + PROD)

I guess I approached the shooting of the documentation quite calmly even though it was a tough exercise with weird conditions and the day before submission. I basically took a large shot of the 3 pieces and then started to do a whole bunch of close-ups in different angles. I shot as much as I could while I had some natural light and as soon as the sunset, I cleared everything and started editing.

I also had to work around loads of tiny issues like lighting. All the lamps I had had a very yellow-ish light, which is quite hard to counter as I was also using daylight. I used my desk as a reflector to soften the light.

I tried to craft some kind of fake wall so I could fake the piece would be hanging, but I didn't have the right stuff to fix safely and properly, so I abandoned the idea

Some set-up in my room during the shooting process. I used 6 A0 sized with paper to set my background. Sadly you can slightly notice the paper separation in the documentation, but I had no other choice. Looked quite nice in the end.





The night before I made a storyboard where I layed down the chronology I wanted to have with the video. First some situational large shot and slowly zooming in to understand what's going on. At about the half I start to go in way more abstract shots to emphasise this illusion and addictive feeling that patterns, movements, and layers have. Then slowly zooming out to finish.

The "storyboard"

Here's the video documentation :

REFLECTION

I really enjoyed reflecting during this project as it lasted 4 weeks. I could really take the time and don't rush an idea. I think these open briefs are getting more and more interesting as we can literally explore any type of questioning. It was nice to study and research on this relation between digital and physical as well as the focus on this screen element.

It was also interesting to work on this project because almost everything was new. I learned a lot about motors, papers, sculpture and did a lot of research on kinetic sculpture. I think I usually stay in my comfort zone by exploring things I like, such as typography or graphic design, but for this project, I wanted to push myself and explore new things. I think a 4-week project is definitely a good opportunity to take the time and explore new paths and artistic directions and I was really happy with the outcome. I think it still has my influence with the work of layout and colors, but in the execution, it is definitely new.

I loved to think about the relation we have with technology and this line of questioning of "what if". I wrote about speculative design for my DHT essay for semester 1 and I really like superflux's approach on rather simple matter like habitat. I reflected a lot on the role of screens, the relationship we have with it, what are the usage? is it essential? would it be meaningful to approach the matter speculatively? or should it be more realistic? or maybe totally abstract? Do I have to input human interactions with it? or will it be too much? etc etc..

This reflection took me a lot of time but it was definitely worth messing with my head for this project. I think it's very important to go crazy and ask everything and try to go in every direction, this way I was sure my final direction was the right one for me. It made everything easier and smooth as I could make clear choices in my concept, abandon or reconsider ideas and troubleshoot issues.

I liked focusing on a piece that I had no emotional tie with compared to the previous project this year (graphic narratives for example). It allowed me to explore and discover more and also let the piece open to multiple interpretations. I really enjoyed working on this speculative element, I've never considered it in my conceptual ideas before and I think it has a very interesting potential for innovation: thinking outside the box.

The presentation was also nice as I could see what people felt when seeing the piece. Although it was less abstract and quite obvious about what's going on, the concept can be open to multiple interpretations, either just moving images or a sort of entertainment. Some saw illusions, addictive animations etc. It was really interesting to hear all the feedback and thoughts about the project.

FUTURE IMPROVEMENTS / SCALING UP

I'm probably repeating myself there, but I would love to bring this whole project to a larger scale and into real appropriate space. The irony of doing stuff remotely is that I'm making a piece that is reflecting on the speculative concept of not having a screen but so far everyone except me has to experience the piece through a screen Ahah. So I would definitely try to push myself to do this right!

OVERALL THOUGHTS

I think even if it looked overwhelming at some point the project went relatively well. I think I was really excited to start working again a big thing after the break. This being a long project also allows to be more ambitious and take the time to craft a delicate concept.

But with a few steps back this was actually an amazing project to work on, even if the conditions weren't ideal the whole brief and area of work are so interesting. I loved to work with motors, it's a really fun and incredibly powerful way of creating things. The whole organisation and schedule were also really good and there plenty of contact points available so it was all in all less lonely!

I think also the engagement from both Jen and us students was really good, everyone seemed to be excited about it and the discussion thread was lively full of little advice. It felt good.

It definitely felt a CONTROL number 2 which was so good! In the end, I'm quite happy with the work I submitted, I didn't expect it would turn out like that. And I was also pleasantly surprised by everyone's work during the presentation. The submissions were all so different it felt super interesting!

BONUS

I tried to document the making process as much as I could and I think I will post some of it along with the documentation video on my Instagram.

I had a bit of fun with the cuts of paper and did some little weird pattern collage