where everything is at float (air station)

the movements of air, the components that air is made of, the feeling of air, are invisible to the naked eye. where everything is at float, is an inquiry and short study on air movements, physically and digitally. transporting air from the south pole to the inclosed space where you are looking at, in real time.
three pieces using three aerodynamics, are representing a set of data of the air movement at location at 90.00∘S, 0.00∘E Amundsen Scott South Pole station.

live web cam image of Amundsen Scott Station at 90.00S, 0.00E.

live web cam image of Amundsen Scott Station at 90.00S, 0.00E.

live data transporting through the internet. javascript.

live data transporting through the internet.

(semi-sphere room) visualizing visibility data acrylic, plexi, styrofoam, cooling fan, arduino, javascript.

(semi-sphere room)
visualizing visibility data
acrylic, plexi, styrofoam, cooling fan, arduino, javascript.

(prepeller) visualizing wind speed data acrylic, brushless motor, prepeller, arduino, javascript.

visualizing wind speed data
acrylic, brushless motor, prepeller, arduino, javascript.

(balloon float) visualizing atmospheric pressure data acrylic, latex, air blower, arduino, javascript.

(balloon float)
visualizing atmospheric pressure data
acrylic, latex, air blower, arduino, javascript.



After prototyping and experimenting with the fan a few more rounds, I found that i needed many more fans and also much more powerful fans to blow up the plastic sheets to achieve the effect I had in mind. So, I decided to make life easier, but still using the same approach.

using a potentiometer to control fan speed

using a potentiometer to control fan speed

blowing up the sheet vertically demonstrating humidity

blowing up the sheet vertically demonstrating humidity

a storm of reclaimed styrofoam demonstrating wind speed data

a storm of reclaimed styrofoam demonstrating wind speed data

balloon blown up in air demonstrating atmospheric pressure data

balloon blown up in air demonstrating atmospheric pressure data


I'm thinking setting up three pieces that will visualize air/wind data - wind speed / atmospheric pressure / humidity.


Before 8th
1 Prototyping

  test sizes of fans and shapes of containers
2 Components
3 Program
   Arduino - the fan speed
   P5 API

Dec 9th - 15th
4 Fabrication
   Add a ultrasonic sensor to trigger the piece to start when people come close


After the first user test round, and more prototyping, I decided to approach the tidal movement with a different form of the same material. I found using airbeds to control the balls was a bit too challenging and hard to control even if I succeed on building out a structure that could float the balls. I thought of using thin translucent plastic sheet to stimulate water instead. It had even more flexible possible movements that can really visualize tides (i thought to myself). Eventually, it will be a sea of plastic sheets simulating tidal waves.

materials needed:
plastic sheets (cut from typical plastic bags we see daily)
servos + mechanic arms (30 pairs)
fans (30)
power source
*sensor (kinetic camera?)

rough estimate of cost $300

The plastic sheet will lay naturally rested as the default setting.
First, it will need to have an up and down movement that will cause the gentle tidal wave form effect and also demonstrate the sea level rising. 
Second, it will need a stronger tidal effect to visualize the wind speed.

The tidal data that could be provided by NOAA's api.

After sketching out one unit of the wave would be structured like, I started prototyping the movements. First, I had to figure out which kind of mechanism was needed for the sheet to start flow in the air without the fan blowing.

In this video, I was testing what kind of up and down movement will generate a simple wave form from the default resting position. In conclusion, from the lowest point to the highest points needs to be at least 9cm high, if there's a near 45 degree angle then the wave form will be even more dramatic.

I've also tested a 12V DC motor fan blowing the sheet,  it can create a nice strong blow at the position of 9cm below the sheet.

My timeline for the last 4 weeks will be:

Nov 17th - 23th : make 1 wave unit that is working through the output of one servo and one fan. buy materials.

Nov 24th - 30th : make 15 working wave units that is collecting data from the tidal api. buy materials.

Dec 1st - Dec 8th : make 30 working wave units and fabricate enclosure

Dec 8th - Dec 14th : add a trigger sensor to start the waves, make a documentation video,  final test and modification


With Ari, we connected the Arduino with a light sensor and synced the data to a P5 sketch I made earlier.

As we our hands got closer to the sensor, the colors in the sketch would turn brighter. We called it ' Energy Synchronization'.


After calculating the right resistor for an 8 ohm 0.5 watts speaker, I successfully made my arduino to make sounds, finally. So I decided to make a small song box that will play the interlude of Kanye West's Runaway, originally a simple but pretty reminiscing looping piano tune, hopefully I could also add another tuner with a different speaker acting as the background beats synth tune.  

Prototype for the sound box.
Final piece will be updated by Wednesday midnight.

In the end, I didn't get what I initially planned for - two speakers to play separate things, each controlled by an individual potentiometer, ultimately making the music box functioning as a primary stage of a synthesizer. Here are the issues that I've struggled with:
1 tone(); somehow not able to use more than once in the loop. 
2 the speakers were way too quiet, i put two speakers in parallel as a quick fix. Is there a way to maximize the volume without using the tone() function? 
3 should have designed to put a press button to start the entire piece, instead of using the usb cable as a manual switch. (will update on the weekend)
4 how to play multiple melodies in one set?
5 how to have the Arduino play its original tones and then make frequency changes? 
In my project I had to switch codes in between manually. 


An Observation On Printers At ITP

I've never really had a great relationship with printers since my father brought our first printer back in the 90s. How ironic that electronics have progressed so much in the last ten years, while printers somehow almost still look and function the same way. There was something about the design of printers that makes them seem so cold, mechanical, even introvert. It would always take me a certain time to figure out how to use one, and each printer has its own particular set of rules. It gets even more scarier if one printer decides to have an error. I remember when I was in college, we had in total eight printers in our library, three of them would be out of service on a rotating turn. Most of the times they were broken because people got frustrated on how to fix the errors and did it the wrong way.

Since I got to ITP, there were so many discussions around how to use the printer in the hallway, I saw a few groups almost trying to dismantle the machine, because they just didn't know how to get it working. So this week I decided to figure out what could be some issues and unlovable characteristics of a printer.

1 The setup process
Setting up any machine or device could be a hassle, however, more and more electronic devices are improving and making the setup process more simple and straightforward. For ITP printers, it's been set up for us already, yet we have to link it to our computer. Although it has little to do with the machine itself, but the experience could have been better. There was only an IP address stuck on the printer, with no instructions or information on what to do with it. I remember having to ask around what secret code that was meant for.

2 The Contact Window  - Screen
Almost every printer has a screen that shows information and also menu/functions/settings, most of them have buttons next to the screen for users to navigate. I find people have to put on their glasses or stick their faces so close to the screen to see what it's showing because the screen is so small. The visual language of printers' systems somehow just stayed in the early 90s, the menus and lists within the screen is far from beautiful and not all the time indicating what's going on clearly. For instance, in the photo above, "show me" can be very confusing.

3 Buttons
For a lot of printers that I have seen, there would be quite many buttons next to the screen, some more minimal than others, some having more than 4 distracting colors. The first time using them is like learning a new small instrument. I wonder if there's a more user friendly way to design it.

If the printer is running fine then there's no hassle. If it runs out of paper, then one has to be familiar and comfortable with opening the tray and filling it up. If it does come to an error, you'll see people in pray of help. 

I imagine a printer that all settings and trouble shooting could be done through an APP or software and the printer could be connected to any devices through Wifi. The printer its self does not require a paper tray, as it could print on any flat surface as it sweeps across the surface.


Making our own circuits today, playing with all sorts of switches. Calculating and finding the right resistor was such an eye test.

Other yet undocumented switches: press button / fish hook.

Other yet undocumented switches: press button / fish hook.




Listen, think and speak.
Input, interpret, output.
A cyclic process.
The definition of interactivity by Chris Crawford.

Reading Chris Crawford's The Art of Interactive Design and Bret Victor's A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design was an enlightening experience, almost philosophical. I suppose, if interaction is a conversation, then one of the determinations of this process is how two actors can communicate. In this sense, the language of communication, the tools for communication will change, evolve, iterate. So will the communication, hence the interaction change itself. My understanding (which could be completely nonsensical and nonlogical) of the "refrigeration game" is that the interaction is valid, yet the "think" process is so simple and unicellular that it seems it is almost pre-historical to the present. Imagining two cave man that started communicating with one single sound "ahhwo", present humans might not consider that as an legit conversation. Nor do we feel it is absolutely legit to say the refrigerator game is an example of interactivity.

Now we have more advance tools and language to communicate with things, we also can communicate with more things, therefore, the interaction evolves and advances as a result. Which leads to what Victor was saying - be inspired by untapped potential of human capabilities. That is the new language we should try to communicate with, instead of just the tip of fingers, our other body parts, our multiple senses, our cognitive mind, our magnetic fields and brain waves, will these become the next tools we use to interact? Apple did include the not-so-great, but still a baby-step-towards-the-future 3D touch to the iPhone. Samsung does have eye tracking technology on their phones. It is positive, one day, interaction will be from soul to soul, no matter if the other soul is an artificial alien we created or a real extraterrestrial. Or interactions with our own selves or other humans across a time field that is infinite wide and long.