Body Vending Machine

It was a typical day – woke up, when to the gym, had my bowl of cereal and coffee, and walked to school. As I was walking to school I realized how the run that I just went on made me feel high, as happy as I could ever be; the endorphins must’ve kicked in. When I finally get to school I have a seat and start working on all my projects.

An hour or so goes by, and the clock has turned 12:00pm – lunch time. Everyone is microwaving their prep meals, or coming to school with food from nearby restaurants. The smell lingers in the area, and all I can think is “Fuck, I’m Hungry”. As I sit there trying to study, all i can think about is what can I go and get to eat. What is the healthier option? Should I go get a salad, or sushi? A smoothie or a sandwich? “I went on a run so technically I’m allowed to eat something”, I think to myself. I decided sushi.

As I am walking out of the building, I notice a red vending machine. I get closer, and look at the images on it. The pictures show different women with all shapes and sizes; short, tall, thin, curvy, full-figured, you name it. I question it for a brief moment, and then think to myself “What is my body type?”. Since I considered myself curvy, i wanted to go for thin. So I pressed the skinny little stick figure and out came a small little bag. Inside the bag were six almonds. “Six almonds??” Yes. Six almonds.

Serene Plastic Bag

Readymades Emotional Object Story by Dominic Barrett

 

It had been a long journey. A long life, really. There was plenty of time ahead, but there was no getting around the “before” and “after” that so clearly marked this plastic bag’s existence. Before the ocean and after.

 

Plastic bag didn’t remember much of being born or it’s earliest days. Who does, really? But the first memory of being pulled and fully exposed to bright light and bare air would always stick with the plastic bag. Previously stacked nearly two dimensionally flat against its brethren, it hadn’t been used to the world or much of its three dimensions. And all of a sudden, hands, weight, swinging, knocking. It had held some cans, vegetables, snacks and a receipt. It was one of the few bags that had more than one use. It had been repurposed to transport left overs before being thrown into the trash. In its first trash home, it shared some time next to those left overs. There were some other bags, scraps of food, napkins, twist ties, rubber bands and coffee stir-ers.

 

It’s life space had collapsed again, however not in the orderly 2d dimensional sheets of its earlier life. It was now cramped in three dimensions. And it was also handled, but not the same way. A bag within a bigger bag, in a pile of bigger bags. Moved in a bin, a box, a truck, a ship. Motion was vague, detectable but far off. Muted tones and slight jostles marked legs of the journey that the bag could not see.

 

Too many times to count. And it didn’t matter, really. Most of it was simply dark and small. The bag didn’t mind. There was something to like about certain spaces, certain trash friends that would come and go.

 

But then there was the ocean. There was brightness and darkness. A free floating three dimensions but the reassuring pressure of the water surrounding it. And the fellow bags. The tides, their weight, the complicated liquid dynamics, all conspired to bring the bags together. Physics itself almost seemed to bend to make sure that the flock of bags would be together, slowly and luxuriously swimming in the middle of a vast ocean.

 

“Do you remember the hands?” they would ask each other, reminiscing. Sometimes they would twist into each other and play games. Other times they would simply be silent, and sway with the undulating current. But they were never mad or sad. They enjoyed sharing the memories as much as sharing the present. And when, occasionally, a bag or two peeled off from the pack, they were always happy and would wish each other good travels. “Goodbye! Thank you for everything! Tell them all about us here in the ocean!” they would yell as the departing bags approached the horizon.

 

There was before the ocean and after the ocean. Plastic bag liked the ocean very, very much.

 

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For my assignment I want to attempt a “serene plastic bag”, (and yes, attempt to avoid the “American Beauty”-ization of the piece) with audio and visual elements that are calming. A collection of plastic bags, lit by blue light and slowly moving. The slow movements crinkle the bag, hopefully creating an ocean-like white noise.

 

The natural observation here is to recognize ecological damage posed by plastic bags in the ocean. I don’t want to confront this head on. In attempting to sanitize the aesthetics, I hope to create something that could be appealing on its own without any interpretation, but then can slowly reveal a grim reality upon noticing the details. Additionally, by creating a “fake” ocean, these bags avoid going into the actual ocean. Their (potential) beauty can serve an ecological purpose.

Painting

February 18 2017, after 9 long laborious months, 3 lbs, 420 mm, a precious beautiful painting was born. Named “She”, 9 months the painter was slaving over it, making sure the intricacies and details were perfect. Mounted in a frame, there it was – finally perfect and ready to see the light.

As it was placed accurately on the wall, She hummed lightly to itself and nervously shook in the hands of the curator. “There! Now just to correct the lighting.” Curator tilted the lamps onto the painting, as the edges of the frame eliminated a golden shine. Painting took a wide look at the gallery: “I was born to be seen,” it whispered.

As the waiters started pouring the wine, clicks of high hills and footsteps started emerging at the entrance. Excited to show itself, the painting stood as still as it could. It didn’t want to disappoint. “Just think of their faces,” it thought to itself. “The things they will think; the looks on their eyes, through which I will dive in deep into the soul; the eyes, through which we will speak!”

The doors opened; a crowd of early 20s to late 50s walked in speaking to each other, passionately gesturing with hands and smiling. A young man in a group of two ladies glanced in the direction of the painting. As the group got their drinks, they started walking towards the artwork. “Hello,” She tried to greet in the blaring tone of the gallery. Young man glanced silently, then turned around: “As I was saying, ladies…”

“Do they see me?” painting sought the eyes of other visitors. It tried to look yet again and again at the people, desperate to connect. “Can they hear me?” She cried.

“What a night!” the curator congratulated the painter. “Thank you!” the painter chuckled.

According to a number of studies, an average viewer looks at a painting for less than 2 seconds. My project is a painting that holds a grudge on the society that has neglected it. The artwork will look at a person for a second or 2 and turn away. I am also thinking of putting the painting on wheels, or hanging it attached to a track on the ceiling, to let the painting “walk away” from the person.

“The Louvre found that people looked at the Mona Lisa an average of 15 seconds, which makes you wonder how long they spend on the other 35,000 works in the collection.” – The Huffington Post, “How Long Does it Take To Look at a Painting?” By James Elkins 11/08/2010 | http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-elkins/how-long-does-it-take-to-_b_779946.html

The unbreakable breakable board

My 2nd favorite thing about martial arts is breaking boards. It’s fun and the feeling of “it happened!” is amazing, especially when you hear the sound of cracking wood (you have to pay very close attention to when you strike in order to hear it over the claps and shouts from the audience) and feeling yourself move through the board. There’s a sense of accomplishment because not only did you break the board, but it meant that you nailed the move with the proper form, strength, and mentality (thinking and believing that you will break this board.  Visualizing your hit through the board and not stopping at it. Knowing that it won’t hurt you if you do it properly)

Every chance I got to break boards I took, and was successful except with one board….and I’ll never forget it, because even now I can’t break it.

I call it the unbreakable breakable board aka u.b.b., because it’s a board meant to break but it hasn’t and not for my lack of trying, it’s just one on the most stubborn and infuriating things ever.

The first time I went to break it, I did a spinning back hook kick and I landed it, but the THUNK of my foot hitting the board and stopping was shocking and confusing because I’ve done it before, I knew what was supposed to happen; my foot was supposed to go through it and I’d spin into my stance ready for the next one. Instead my foot hit it and dropped to the ground. I shook it off and tried again, but the seed of doubt and awareness filled my brain and body and once again I didn’t break it. I tried one more time, but I didn’t break it and I felt down and out. I moved onto another board as much as I didn’t want to I did, and it broke. I was confused.

u.b.b. brought out a range of emotions in me, from determination to anger to doubt and now a weird calm determination and respect (even though I still want to break it and will keep trying to!) I would practice hard and try to break it sporadically and every time I couldn’t, I got upset or felt defeated because I knew I was doing everything properly. I tried simpler kicks with more impact and it wouldn’t break, I even attempted chopping it and all that did was send me home with an icepack for my hand.

As crazy as it sounds, I thought that the board was making fun of me and mocking me because I couldn’t break it no matter how much time I spent practicing and perfecting my moves. Every time I walked into class and looked over at the boards stacked in the corner I would see mine and could feel it provoking me into anger or doubt (depending on the day or my mood) and I would do my best to push it away and comfort myself with promises that one day I would break it. I’ve resigned myself to respecting the board because the goal of breaking it is pushing me to be a better martial artist, I’ve noticed the changes in me regarding my speed, impact, and stance when learning new things and during practice drills…and hopefully with these honed skills, one day I will break u.b.b.

A Basket is A Box

For our second Readymades assignment, we were tasked with creating a “Sound Object”. Our readymade was to be given a personality using only sound as an output. Max was to be used as the platform for making the sounds.

After thinking constantly about the idea of a readymade (and seeing them everywhere), I decided I wanted to use a wicker basket that I owned. The basket had some compelling properties to me. It is stiff, glazed with some kind of plastic to make it sturdy, and somewhat sharp at point. But it also looks natural, has a warm color, and I will habitually run my hands across it to make different noises.

Lately I’ve also been thinking about “mapping” sensory inputs in different ways that could produce interesting results. For example, consider that your ears are a certain distance apart from each other. Now imagine if you placed two microphones a similar distance apart. If you increased the distance between the microphones, you might be simulating what it was like to hear when your head was that much larger. If you reduced the distance to half, or a quarter, you might be perceptually “shrinking” yourself by that amount. I decided to use these thoughts as a prompt for my sound object assignment.

 

 

Multiple microphones are placed inside of the basket. These microphones feed into a multichannel audio I/O Max patch, which then processes and routes the microphone input to multiple speakers positioned outside of the basket and around the viewer. A pre-recorded recording of me rubbing, tapping, knocking, and playing with the basket loops until the microphones detect noise. When noise is detected, then the loop stops playing, and the microphones are positionally routed to the speakers.

My attempt is to prompt a meditation of a “box within a box” infinite regression. When making noise, you can become aware that something inside the box hears what is going on outside. You hear these noises, as they are positioned around and above you in a square configuration. While an out of body experience can also be a meaningful appreciation of the piece, my true attempt was to invoke the realization that the viewer is also in a box (the room). This box is also in a larger box, the building, etc, conceptually stretching outwards into the concept of space itself.

There were some technical challenges in creating the piece in regards to sourcing the proper microphones, speakers and calibrating the noise levels in the Max patch. I am happy with this first pass, however. If an opportunity to further refine the concept presents itself, I would have a solid knowledge base to build off of.

Talking back mirror

Use audio to personalize a pre existing object.

In this assignment I thought about the idea of using opposite output from something we’re used to hear or see.  When I asked a few friends what will be surprising to get a sound back at you, Aaron (Montoya), thought I was talking about reversing, and suggested a mirror- which actually made sense to me. I thought it will be quite surprising or at least, trying to get a mirror to reverse also your sound other than your reflection.

In creating the Max patch, I wanted to get incoming audio, record it until the audio stops, and then hear it in reverse. The max is confusing to me, because in not always sure what’s needed for the software to digest…which data it needs, and there are a lot of options regarding audio data. Aaron help me and explained me how Max get the data, and the option on how to use buffer, taking that data and give it different speeds, including (-1) like I need for this project.

When I thought about the object itself, I thought it will be funny to laser cut an info booth circles, to make people understand that there is some sort of audio communication that needs to be done in front of this mirror.

Regarding getting the data if someone actually talks to the mirror, I created a circuit with the Sharp IR sensor, and got it to work with a found online code..of course that because I haven’t touch sensors for some time I mixed ground with data and had a few hours of trouble shooting…

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When I was far, the numbers were low, closer to the sensor was 500. Then I knew which information should trigger something in the max.

In order to take the data from the Arduino to Max, Aaron (Montoya again 🙂 ) introduced me to a Tom Igoe code that you copy paste to your patch. The patch that you paste, transferring the serial data into ASCII, from ASCII to numbers, and then you can play with it and how it’s effecting your patch.

Next is to create a mirror, from a Mirror acrylic sheet that I bought- that way I can laser cut it, and play with the design, to make it attract people to talk to it.

PMS Imergency Kit

Group: Najat Dimachki, Yihan Chen, Satbir Multani.

PMS Imergency Kit

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This drawing summed up most of the ideas that we had from brainstorming in the last class. It shows ideas for a pooping kit, escaping kit (getting away from horrible dates, people you don’t want to talk to, etc), being stuck, PMS, hangover etc. We wanted it to be something that was real and necessary but a bit silly.

We spent quite some time thinking about the PMS kit because it was something the three of us could relate to and thought about things we would want on hand in order to keep us calm and not cursing out or pulverizing someone. We all wanted something to eat and it was between sweet and savory so candies and decadent chocolate was chosen, tape was a necessary because sometimes you just don’t want to hear people and instead of being snarky, making them stop talking would be helpful, and it could switch around where when you want to be a bitch, you tape your own mouth shut. The clock is something that we wish we could actually have, because it allows you to stop your period for 24hrs. That is amazing in of itself!! It makes me think of Hermiones watch from Harry Potter, so she can go forward and back in time. The sunglasses help you to ignore everything that is happening around you, especially when you want to not be bothered by anyone or anything. Plates are in the kit to help you get rid of frustration or anger, a way to release tension.

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Collaborators: Shir David, Hayeon Kim, and Chester Dols

We initially spoke after class with an idea to make a kit for our future-selves.  We imagined what the future would be like and what the necessary components would be for our survival.  2045.com became the focus of our inspiration.  Project 2045 imagines a possible future of uploaded human consciousness onto a digital server where humanity can live in peace when the world’s resources are depleted.

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Our second point of inspiration was the concept of the ‘readymade’ and what a readymade can be.  We discussed a kit of objects that needed to be available for us when we arrived in our new virtual world.  The intention of the kit was a selection of items necessary to keep our humanity even though we had become digital.  We all really liked the idea of readily made objects from Thingiverse.com that we we could mash together to represent the parts of humanity that we thought would be necessary for our transitional preservation from physical to digital.

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Our vessel is a usb drive.  The kit, a collection of aggregated mesh objects.  Our objects represent 6 things that we felt are intrinsically necessary as humans and to stay human.

-Consumption: a car, a bug, a computer, and a hammer.

-Curiosity: a Mario figure, a skateboard, and a book.

-Inspiration: a bike wheel, a urinal, and a stool.

-Intangible Arts: a Spotify keychain and a music box mechanism.

-Compassion: a heart, a rose, a sword

-Health: a virus model, a snake, and a pill case.

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Above: fabrication of the futuristic usb and a screenshot of the health object in Rhino3D interface.