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Ryerson Year 3

SYMBIOSIS

SYMBIOSIS is an interactive sculpture that showcases the important co-dependent relationship between nature and the human race.

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Natural existence is progressively becoming endangered by mankind’s endless desire for industrial and infrastructural expansion. It is important to remember we are the ones with all the power that ultimately determines the fate of this world. We are the ones that can make a difference. A balance of natural and man-made creations is what makes our world beautiful. Inspired by Park Seung Mo’s Human series, the flowers were made entirely with aluminum wires. They ‘come alive’ when human touch is detected.

  

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Constructed with silver and copper aluminum wires, the flowers are interactive sculptural installation. The LEDs of each flower light up whenever the flower bud or the roots at the bottom of the vase is touched. Each piece is approximately 30 inches tall, and powered by an Arduino Uno and external power source.

 

Special thanks to Steve Daniels, David Bouchard, Joseph Lammirato, Barry Weatherhead, Diane Agapito, Kelly Truong, and Karen Wan for all the support.

A lot has changed since my last update. The title is now SYMBIOSIS; the wires now go through the hole at the bottom of the vases; the ‘soil’ filling is now paper shreds of a dictionary; a metal circular stand is added onto the bottom; and lastly, pieces of paper are glued on the outside.

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The critique went fairly well. There was a lot of positive feedback with the exception of the graduate which suggested I play more on making it more ‘industrial’ to enhance my concept. He said the circular glass and paper makes it very polished, which is not conveying what I want. I decided to not change this because I feel like making it more industrial will make it very messy (like the scraps of circuitry I tried before). Another criticism was the blanket I used for the table cloth. I obviously didn’t want that but I couldn’t purchase a proper table cloth the night before so I just did what I could with what I had at hand.

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The last flower did not make it to the critique because the last vase actually shattered.

 

One word to describe this year’s 4th year META show was UNDERWHELMING. We get this stigma how META is the biggest and most important show for our program, but some of the pieces I saw was just disappointing and insulting in a way. I feel like you were given a year to show the best work you have ever created, you better show something with amazing construction, originality and functions flawlessly. Let’s be honest, the opening is the most important day of any show because that’s when most people show up. So if your piece doesn’t work, people are most likely not going to re-visit the exhibition again thus forever remember your piece as the one that didn’t work. Not only is that shameful for the artist, but also insulting to the profs that has drilled the importance of ‘make sure it works!’ into our heads the 4 years we studied there.

It’s really shocking to me that some of these pieces were jury approved. The loop video with the girl’s face projected onto a wall was so mundane, done before and easy to make. The rain piece beside it with the Kinect and projection is basically a direct copy of Camile Utterback’s Text Rain (the artist even listed it as one of the inspirations). The male and female imprints that filled up when people pressed buttons stops working when it fills up, so it should’ve been reset itself when it reaches maximum capacity. The white paper projection sculpture that hovered above was beautiful and probably the best piece of the show, it should’ve been placed at the front. But instead, we got carts that didn’t work to welcome us at the entrance. I had no idea that this piece had anything to do with sound because you couldn’t hear any of the sounds the piece was suppose to make. The artists should’ve anticipated the noise level of the opening to make sure that their piece stood out. It was basically the opening piece that people saw first when they walked in, so it was embarrassing to see all the confused faces staring down at the frozen cars not doing anything. The WTF piece was really WTF. The automated drawing machine was one of the better pieces but was hidden at the little corner at the back. The sound-making buttons beside the WTF piece didn’t work. The medical hearing devices piece at the back was interesting, but does not accommodate people of all heights (should have had a wooden step or something). The game beside it was basically a personality test, and the graphics was alright but not spectacular. The piece beside that was not working. Moving onto the next room, the moving dress was beautiful and actually worked. It stood out and people understood the interaction. The wooden pier was poorly designed because many people stepped on it when you’re suppose to touch it with your hands. The computer orchestra at the very left was cool but it wasn’t loud enough to hear the significant changes according to the hand motions. Only other thing I remember from this room was the guestbook which should’ve been at the entrance/exit area. The womb room was really black cloths covering the entire space and a soundtrack of a womb. The artist who did the clubbing photos that was hung on the wall of the staircase heading up to the roof should be pissed because it was basically shunned from the rest of the show, like there was no space for it so you can sit outside. If I forgot any pieces, that’s because they weren’t very memorable.

Everything felt cramped. I didn’t understand why there was 2 sofas that took up a lot of space when it could’ve been used to spread the pieces out, giving it more room to breathe.

Nothing against the artists, but it was really an underwhelming show with a lot of pieces that lacked the conceptual and execution quality to be there. People who went to last year’s META said this year was a lot better so I’m glad I didn’t go to last years. I just hope and pray that next year when we have our META that it would not turn out to be such a mess. But if I was an artist or on the curator team, I sure as hell won’t let that happen if I’m putting my name on it in the list.

 

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My poster presentation focused on the topic: Food in Tourism Advertising. I began by asking the listeners where they have traveled in the past 5 years and if they had some authentic cultural food that could not necessary be found here.

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In January, my family and I went to Tokyo Japan and before that, we were exploring our options whether we wanted to take a tour, or go by ourselves. So we visited a number of traveling agencies and what I noticed while I was there, was a lack of food in the advertising. Now we are very fortunate that Toronto is so multicultural, that that we do have Italian food, Greek food, Korean food and Japanese food, but it is safe to say that when you are eating here, there isn’t the quality of authenticity that you can get if you were to eat the food from where it originated. Being such a huge fan of Japanese cuisine, I wanted to know what kinds of awesome food I will be eating on my trip, and not just eating at a random restaurant depending on wherever we’re going. So obviously, I want to eat the best sushi, the best ramen and the best Japanese dishes but judging by the pamphlets and ads I saw, I would not know if I would be getting that. That was a huge reason why we didn’t go with the tour because we didn’t want to take the chance, so we decided to navigate Japan by ourselves even though we had to do a lot more work and research, it was worth it. And in the end, that agency lost a potential client because of something so simple.

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Because of what I saw, I really wanted to know: what are the top reasons people want to travel to a country. I asked 80 people in total and for first batch of surveys, the first word cloud features the keywords people used in their reasoning. After re-cateogrizing and combining it with the second batch, the reasons people said include:

Shopping, sightseeing, relaxation, architecture, returning home, food, culture and never been there before.

But the top three reasons why people want to travel to a country by order is:

Never being there before, the food and returning home where they were from.

2014-04-08 11.11.27Food being the second most popular reason intrigued me because of what I saw from my experience. So I went to a couple malls and more travelling agencies and still noticed there was little to no mentions of food in any of the advertising. Not only the pamphlets, the backdrops, the posters in store, but also their website itineraries had the tiniest section that talks about the food you will be enjoying on your trip and it was the most general statement like “you will be eating some of the city’s best Chinese food”. Which is basically telling me nothing at all. So I really wanted to know why there was a lack of food in tourism advertising. And two representatives of two different travelling agencies reply with the following: “Food is not considered as an attraction, so it appears less in our advertising”, and “It’s more of a necessity, you have to eat when you travel”. While I do agree it is a necessity, I don’t believe that it should be ignored.

2014-04-08 11.11.24I proceeded by asking the crowd judging by the mock advertisement I created for the middle, if they had the money, the time, and the opportunity to go Japan, would they? Majority of them replied with yes. I then asked if they would love to try some shabu shabu and sushi go round while they are there and they didn’t know what I was talking about. After briefly explaining and showing them what these two Japanese dishes were, the I was trying to make was that simple changes in tourism advertising can ultimately affect a person’s traveling decisions. Knowing what it was, they were even more interested in visiting the country.

2014-04-08 11.11.34By incorporating food in the advertising, it can interest, intrigue and influence. Before I started the presentation, I gave out cookies – but not just to be nice. I believe people were more inclined to come and listen to me ramble because they saw and ate these delicious cookies. I gave them out strategically to as an advertisement for my presentation.2014-04-08 11.10.24I concluded my presentation by reminding people food is more than something that fills our appetite. It can enhance our experiences, making it more memorable and emotional. So for everyone that  really want a full culinary experience when traveling, they need to make sure they know what that is exactly what they will be getting. I remember when I went on a Korean tour in 09, the first night we were there in Korea, we ate Chinese food. I’m not trying to say that traveling agencies are evil, the point I’m making is that very simple changes that people don’t often consider is relevant, can be influential. When you are advertising a product or service to the consumer, make sure you know your consumer really want. From my findings, I believe that food is one of the top reasons why someone visits a country, so they can try different traditional dishes they may not be able to try at home, which is why there should be more emphasis and priority in the tourism advertisement.

All in all, the poster presentation session

Feedback, Questions and My Responses:

– a lot of people I spoke to agreed and was surprised by my findings

– food was always important to them, but they never thought it will be neglected in advertising like this

– people thought the poster was easy to understand

– they loved the cookies social experiment!

Q. Why is this important to me? Why does it matter to me?

This may not immediate apply to you, but if you plan on travelling somewhere in the future, this is just something to be aware of. But if you don’t plan on leaving this country ever then I guess it doesn’t apply to you.

Q. What was your demographic?

The demographic of the participants were mainly Asians because it was from my previous research for another question. But in all honestly, I don’t believe the race matters. Like TourEast said, it is a necessity, do you not want the best food you can get? Furthermore, the people I got to talk were a variety of different races (not Asian) and they all agree the importance of food during travel.

Q. Well you can just google and research these things?

Whole point of going to a travelling agency is not having to do any of the work. You pay them to do all the planning for you. I believe if you are paying 3,000 for a trip, you best believe you should be doing the absolute least work!

So after the feedback from the first user test, I decided to change the interaction between the flowers and the users. I didn’t really like how lighting the soil doesn’t really convey the concept I was striving for. Plus, since there was only one photoresistor, sometimes it didn’t work when people were flashing at different areas of the pot. What bothered me the most was the brightness of the flashlight and how it kind of overconsumed the LEDs in the flower.
So I thought of another interaction that involved IR proximity sensors where when someone places their hands near the pot and flower, the LEDS lit up. I liked this idea because it’s like the user is directly transferring their energy to the flower to light it up. Because of my cheapness, I got IR emitters and receivers (seperately) from Active Surplus because it was way cheaper than Creatron’s premade (combined) versions, and it turns out that it is a pain the ass to work with. When David explained how I had to do this and that to get it to work effectively, I knew it wasn’t going to end well especially with all the other work I still had to do. My cheapness actually costed me $10 in the end.
Luckily, as we continued to search for alternatives, David reminded me of the exercise we did last year with the aluminum foil and how I can maybe emulate the effect of IR proximity sensors just by using capacitative sensory. Which then made me wonder if the wires are actually conductive in itself, to react to the human touch. Lo and behold it actually works! So I came up with the idea that roots (made with the wires) will sparse from underneath the pot and the user interaction will be the physical touch on the roots. Here we go!

The day of the user test! I got everything up and running and here is the my flower for the user test:
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I added this metal frame thingy to the bottom with a label to give people hints in what to do. I also put a flashlight beside the piece in case their phones didn’t have a flash function.

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I really wished that the pieces were smaller so it looked like actual soil. Some people pointed out it looked messy and conflicts with the cleanness of the flower which I 100% agree. I think I will try and use a blender for the next step!

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I was pretty pleased with how the flower looked when it’s lit up (especially in that room where it was dim).
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Lastly, here’s a video of the interaction:

This is where things started to go downhill. The original plan was to get the flower to move (along with the LEDs lighting up) whenever someone shines a light to the soil (where the photoresistor was). I initially wanted to use a servo and have the top petals rotate, but it didn’t work out because it would cause all the LED wiring to tangle along the middle. Furthermore, I couldn’t get the coding to slow down the servo speeds. So instead of spinning the petals, I thought having a motor that moves the petals moves in an up and down motion. Steve suggested that I use a stepper accelerator but seeing the prices at Creatron made me cringe. But the bigger problem is not knowing if it will actually do what I want. Plus, the actual mechanism was so big it hard to make it work with the LED wiring and extremely difficult to hide it. I wasn’t willing to take that risk because I’m sure I won’t be able to figure out the coding by the user test, so I decided to just stick with LEDs. I was actually quite disappointed in myself because I had to downgrade my original concept.

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For the LEDs, I wanted it to do a fade effect whenever the photo resistor receives light, and fade off when the light is removed. The coding was a lot more complicated than I imagined. I wrote a bunch of different code but none seemed to have work. I had really no choice but seek for Steve’s help (which at that time was not for another 3 hours?). So I took the time to start creating the decor in which the flower will be placed in.

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I began smashing scrapes of electronics I found and it was HARD. They were invincible and impossible to break effectively. I wanted really refined, small pieces of circuitry as the soil and I was very disappointed I couldn’t achieve that. Since it was the day before the user test, I decided to let it be because the coding was far more important at this point. 

Long story short, I was the second last person to leave Hack Night. Steve helped a lot with the code and we finally got it to work the way I want it to. All that was left to do was assemble the piece and present it the morning after.