This week we worked a lot on making the prototype more engaging for passers-by. We wanted to involve the actual passing pedestrians in the light show. To achieve this we collaborated on pseudo-code to try and add projector and video functionality. Sam W dove into a Processing sketch that incorporated a video library and a color sensor. After some trial and error we were able to get a live feed, choose a certain range of pixels (roughly one third of the way down the screen, as seen below) and then map those pixels across the full height of the screen. When we translated this to the projected image on the floor the effect was much more compelling and could hopefully help pedestrians recognize the connection between their attire and the projected image.
The physical prototype proved to be a bit more time-consuming, somehow. We set out to build a system which would let us position the projector vertically and scatter the light across the floor nearby. We took some rough measurements and built a second prototype. Its visual effect left something to be desired, largely because the angle and height were incorrect. We returned to the VFL to adjust the design and came out with a much more effective product. We will be using this in our final presentation and video.
Below you’ll see some stills from our earlier and more recent prototypes.
Abandoned before or after it was inhabited, Armilla cannot be called deserted. At any hour, raising your eyes among the pipes, you are likely to glimpse a young woman, or many young women, slender, not tall of stature, luxuriating in the bathtubs or arching their backs under the showers suspended in the void, washing or drying or perfuming themselves, or combing their long hair at a mirror. In the sun, the threads of water fanning from the showers glisten, the jets of the taps, the spurts, the splashes, the sponges’ suds.
A naiad rises from a bathing pool, glistening with water droplets. Her dusky eyes sweep the scene, dazzled by the ever-changing water surfaces all around. She leaps effortlessly across a steep drop from the pool to a small shower platform. A cascade of drops fall to the dry earth far below.
She eases her way through another fluid curtain, light and water intermingling in the blinding heights. She sees a walkway up ahead cast in bright sun and walks along it. Her skin dries slightly as she moves forward toward a wide, cool chamber. As she enters, directly ahead of her she sees that one entire wall of the chamber is made of yet another curtain of water. This one is much stronger and heavier than the others she’s seen before. It is clear that one step into the font would carry her over the edge, so she instead walks up to it and then veers along just behind it.
The water is so torrential that it largely obscures the bright sunlight to which she and her sisters are accustomed. As she walks along the water wall it gives way here and there to streams of bright, warming light. The interplay between the stretches of cool shade and the extravagant warmth and brightness of the light channels is refreshing and sensual after so much time spent among the glare and vibrance of the waters of Armilla. Our naiad knows that when she needs a respite she’ll return to the chamber once more and luxuriate in the cooling, calming shadows cast by the wall of water.
Train Tracks is a generative audio and light display for the MTA. It translates train speed into an ambient light and audio show that can be customized by line, station, time of day, or other relevant parameters. The goal of Train Tracks is to create a more beautiful, whimsical commuting experience for the millions of MTA riders who ride the subway each day, while simultaneously reinforcing the shared identity of specific train lines, stations, or entire neighborhoods.
Presentation can be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/8a59p8c9m028vep/AACVDESERtmoLG_wfUsqnUYBa?dl=0
I spent four years living in Barcelona, a city replete with third places. The outdoor cafe is the most common, and is made possible by large public plazas, typically ringed by small, locally owned establishments. Here’s an example, called Plaza Vila de Gracia:
These plazas are open only to pedestrians and can be found in every neighborhood in the city. Each has its own personality and charm, providing a shared outdoor space for the community living in the area. They’re convenient places to meet before heading off to another location, or to simply sit and people watch with a group of friends.
I suppose I began to take them for granted when I lived there, but since moving back to New York I’ve realized that cities without this “plaza culture” are quite different. In New York, outdoor cafes are almost always found running along the sidewalk, which can crowd both pedestrians and diners. This also normally limits the tables to one single row rather than the grid-like layouts seen in Barcelona, which generally have a more convivial, expansive atmosphere. Psychologically, placing these third places along a busy sidewalk makes them feel less restful and more harried. I believe this detracts from the power of the shared outdoor third space. With more pedestrian plazas, New York could establish its own plaza culture, increasing community engagement and happy encounters throughout the city.