Monthly Archives: October 2014

Team Flux – Prototype #2

This week we explored some new materials. Sam C suggested we consider Mylar (AKA biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate) for its reflective properties. It’s also very thin, so would blow dramatically in the wind. We wondered if we could utilize each of these properties to (continuing our nature theme) create a water-like effect in light?

Luckily the material is relatively cheap, we acquired 50ft for less than $40. Shining direct light on the material while it’s moving creates an array of compelling effects we’re only just beginning to understand, and a small piece of material can create a surprisingly large light effect on nearby surfaces. We tried crumpling it, cutting it up, shining images or colored light onto it… it feels like there’s lots of potential.

This evening we placed a small construction by the window, where it would blow in the breeze. We then shone a theatrical light on it. Here is the effect:

Our next steps are to understand how the effects might work in the space itself – there are quite a few environmental factors to consider at North End Way. How will natural light affect it? How will the wind affect it? Will we be able to create a more convincing effect at night? Will reflections appear clearly on the glass walls or ceiling?

We also need to explore how we involve people more. We have some early ideas, but these all depend critically on how the reflection effect works in the space – so we’ll need to gain a clearer understanding of that first. We’ll be returning to the space for experimentation very soon.

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Week 8 News

Class recap:

Effy, Sam. C and Dami gave their technology presentations, and we spent the remainder of the class discussing each group’s first prototype iteration.


  1. Continue developing your idea.  Next week, Michael will meet with each group to discuss the following items. Please document your thinking in a blog post, file it under Final project – week 2, and get it up by Sunday 11/2.
    • Test second prototype: If your group has already tested out in the field, try your next prototype in the studio. To allow enough time for interaction and analysis, prototypes should be installed by tomorrow (Thurs, 10/30).
    • Define your user
    • Write a creation myth
    • Define your intervention: as thing, base sense, content delivery (in other words, think of it as an object, something that makes light sound or you touch, and think about how it communicates information)
    • Propose two new interventions: Diverge based on your findings and and propose two new interventions
    • Start thinking about your 6-week development plan
  2. Technology projects. Next week, we’ll here from Jeff, Mini, Hanna, Amy, Michie and Mike.


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Team Jared – First Prototype

Check out our presentation here:



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Team Tapper — First Prototype

Team members: Effy, Sunnie, Luke, and Amy  /  3rd Place: Barcade
[Click to enlarge photos]

From mapping out our Barcade users, we noticed that a lot of the “craft beer connoisseurs” tend to stay by the bar area and very rarely venture out to the video games side, given an exception or two and so we wanted to quickly test if we could get a beer goer to become a gamer, by pairing a selection of their daily beers with a video game, just like how restaurants pair wine and food. We paired how a video game is played and the taste of the beer, for example a slow-paced “thinking” video game would go nicely with a heavy beer like Guinness, which is meant to be enjoyed in sips versus the Daytona video game would go with a lighter beer that is easier to down.

Here is our menu:

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Washington Square Park Prototype 1 – Team NHDS

Team Dami, Hanna, Nga and Sneha’s prototype 1 deck:

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Prototype #1 — Team MALM

Concept Recap

Check out our project tin cans slides


When we thought about prompts for our tin can phones, we wanted to test a range of prompts:

1. Playful + open ended


2. Playful + instructive


3. Serious + open ended

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 5.14.54 PM

4. Serious + instructive

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 5.14.43 PM

5. Game


6. Visual icons

visual icon



We tested different locations in the park, which varied in crowdedness and activity. We tried passively placing some on benches and actively giving some to people.


  • No one participated when cans were passively placed — only when we actively invited people:
    • indirect hinting
    • direct invitation
  • People did not read the prompts — they only observed them after the interactions were over
  • We had to inform people about technique of pulling string taught
  • Young kids were fascinated because they hadn’t seen anything like this before
  • Older people found it nostalgic, and multiple said they used to do it when they were kids
  • Some people liked it, others were more disinterested
  • Of the people that did try it, the majority had positive, engaged reactions
  • When people were using it, the string instigated different interactions itself:
    • Some people tripped or walked into it without realizing it was there
    • Some kids were playful and tried doing limbo with the string
  • Each conversation consisted of at least 5 exchanges
  • People on lawns seemed more open to participating. It was also a better environment for the tin cans, since they involve people walking, standing at a distance, and pulling them taught
  • Conversation topics were very basic introductions:
    • What’s your name?
    • Where are you from?
    • Where do you live?
  • Confusion about who was listening and who should be talking
  • Some skepticism and surprise when devices worked
  • When people who used it knew each other, conversations were more engaging and deeper
  • People watching other people participate garnered interest

Opportunities for next prototype 

  • Creating some kind of stand/display and signage to draw more attention to the prototype
  • Simpler prompt
  • 2 versions:
    • Open-ended platform where any 2 people can talk
    • Booth where one of us is there, and individuals can talk to us, kind of like a live “Ask Me Anything”
  • Lowering the barrier to entry: make it easier for people to just sit and talk without having to worry about walking, pulling it taught, etc.

Lingering thoughts:

  • What’s the takeaway? Sometimes, people just want to have someone to talk to. (Old man story)

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Final Project Prototyping – Sam C & W, Jeff, Mini

This week we revisited the site, came up with a new “kinetic art” concept, designed an early prototype, and experimented with a range of materials and light positions to find the best option for our concept.

Photo Oct 19, 4 28 04 PM

When we returned to North End Way we realized that, as Luke pointed out in class, the presence of water so close to the location is really compelling. We started to think of ways to translate the dynamic qualities of the nearby water into the arcade. Initially we were thinking of pure audio or perhaps a wave pool to emulate the sound of moving water. Then Sam W. noticed that there is a diagonal grid created by the paving stones in the arcade and mimicked by the glass panels above. Jeff brought up the idea of “walking on water” and I brought up the work of Reuben Margolin, whose kinetic sculptures leverage the mathematics of water eddies and waves to great effect.

We were considering a projected light effect, but thanks to Michael’s feedback we realized that the ambient light in the space would probably be too much for that to be visually compelling. We decided to play on the idea of shadows instead. By shining a strong spotlight through our kinetic sculpture we would be able to broaden the reach and perceived size of the installation.

Photo Oct 24, 2 29 13 PM

Once we had a general idea of the shape we started to experiment with different dowel diameters using one of the department’s high-intensity photography lighting rigs. We learned that the closer the object is to the ground the more crisp and clearly defined the shadow is, and also that as the dowels move farther away their outlines blur significantly. We also found that we could create a shadow wave even when moving all of the dowels simultaneously along the same path, a finding which should simplify our eventual installation. We had a few hiccups involving the material we used to suspend the rods from the main axis (thread had too much “give” and resulted in a jerky motion) but we know that the core concept is sound. Our next step is to integrate a motor of some kind and begin refining the whole apparatus.

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Week 7 News

Class recap:
Hope everyone enjoyed our guest workshop! It provided a way to enrich our understanding of personas by embodying their attitudes, concerns, and interactions through improv.


  1. First prototype – Time to put our first project iterations out into the wild! This can be a paper/rapid prototype with your choice of content, medium. Please post documentation by end of day Sunday 10/26 under the Final project – first prototype category.
  2. Tech research – Next up are Jeff, Mini and Hana. Since we didn’t have time for Dami, Effy and Sam C. last week, we’ll try to squeeze in all 6 next week so please be prepared to present.

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Washington Square Park Elevator Pitch -Dami Nga Hanna and Sneha

Link to our Elevator Pitch for Interventions at Washington Square Park

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Team – Sam C, Sam W, Mini, and Jeff

Our elevator pitch can be found here

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