Computing Culture Group
Selected student works, 2003-2007
<random> search is a neutral, quantifiable witness to the screening process. Undetectable, wearable pressure sensors, implemented with Quantum Tunneling Composites (QTC), are distributed across the undergarment in order to monitor and record inappropriate or unjustified searches. By allowing the traveler to log and share the experience s/he is going through, the 'smart' body suit attempts to quantify the search using a common plat form and standardized measurements. The digit a1 record is repeatable and legible enough to be used as evidence to hold security officials accountable for their actions. <random> search is a personal, voluntary technology that does not impose a course of action on the wearer, but rather offers him/her a record to analyze, incriminate, share, perform, or simply keep."
"Blendie is an interactive, sensitive, intelligent, voice controlled blender with a mind of its own. Materials are a 1950’s Osterizer blender altered with custom made hardware and software for sound analysis and motor control.
People induce the blender to spin by sounding the sounds of its motor in action. A person may growl low pitch blender-like sounds to get it to spin slow (Blendie pitch and power matches the person) and the person can growl blender-style at higher pitches to speed up Blendie. The experience for the participant is to speak the language of the machine and thus to more deeply understand and connect with the machine. The action may also bring about personal revelations in the participant. The participant empathizes with Blendie and in this new approach to a domestic appliance, a conscious and personally meaningful relationship is facilitated. Machines influence self-conception, expression, social perception, and perception of responsibility and action. Blendie is part of a series of machines designed to access and vitalize the interplay of people and machines. Intercommunicative awareness is brought out and individuals are invited to reinvent their own existence.
In Blendie a mix of design, art, engineering, and psychotherapy inform the interaction facilitated between participants and the familiar blender. An empathic opportunity is made manifest emphasizing and utilizing the aspects of blenders that are not what have been traditionally designed into them intentionally – i.e. their incredible sound and vibration – but that nevertheless have large roles in our interaction and approach to them."
OMO / Machine Therapy
"Machine Therapy is a new practice combining art, design, psychoanalysis, and engineering work in ways that access and reveal the vital, though often unnoticed, relevance of people's interactions and relationships with machines. Machine Therapy will be illustrated through the construction of several systems including re-appropriated domestic devices such as Blendie, wearble apparatuses such as ScreamBody, and body-signal-based companion machines - Umo, Amo, and Omo - that function through visceral interactions including breathing and non-verbal sounds. These systems will be used to explore themes of human-machine relations in terms of visceral, cathartic, and reflexive expressions and communications.
This work incorporates elements from my technical research in digital signal processing, machine learning, mechanical engineering, and sensor design. Combining these areas of research and practice, I have been able to help manifest new objects and relationships that are unique in some aspects while maintaining quotidian familiarity in other aspects. These apparatuses enable unusual explorations of what we interact with when we interact with machines.
I hypothesize that the answer will turn out to be much more than the machine itself, and will include our sense of self, agency in the interpersonal and political world, and our shared psychological, emotional, cultural, and perceptual approaches to the world. The importance of the parapractic elements and also the therapeutic properties of the Machine Therapy machines will be evaluated in studies of participants' interactive engagements with the machines as well as their affective responses to the machines."
Social Defense Mechanisms: Tools for Reclaiming our Personal Space
"In contemporary Western society, electronic devices are becoming so prevalent that many people find themselves surrounded by technologies they find frustrating or annoying. The electronics industry has little incentive to address this complaint; I designed two counter-technologies to help people defend their personal space from unwanted electronic intrusion. Both devices were designed and prototyped with reference to the culture-jamming "Design Noir" philosophy. The first is a pair of glasses that darken whenever a television is in view. The second is lowpower RF jammer capable of preventing cell phones or similarly intrusive wireless devices from operating within a user's personal space. By building functional prototypes that reflect equal consideration of technical and social issues, I identify three attributes of Noir products: Personal empowerment, participation in a critical discourse, and subversion."
Speakeasy : mobile telephony for community networking and civic engagement in an immigrant community
"eRiceCooker tracks Internet news about genetically modified rice. Whenever there is a new report about GM rice, a quarter cup of rice is dispensed into the cooker. When the cooker has enough rice for a meal, water is added automatically to the rice and the cooker is switched on. When the rice is done, an email is sent out to inviting people to eat the rice. The more news reports appear, the more rice is cooked, the more often invitations are sent out. The project is designed to create awareness to issues surrounding genetically modified organisms by producing excessive amounts of cooked rice and attempting to feed people with it. The more news reports appear, the more rice is cooked, the more often invitations are sent out. The project is designed to create awareness to issues surrounding genetically modified organisms by producing excessive amounts of cooked rice and attempting to feed people with it. Currently, eRiceCooker is doing the following google news searches: GMO Rice"
"While technologists scramble to develop technologies for the production and storage of environmentally friendly electricity, it is also important to address our personal role in conserving energy. Indeed, thermodynamics shows that we can't get energy without spending it, and while great efficiencies may be found in energy generation, it is clear that the most substantial way to solve the energy crisis is by reducing demand.
While reformulating lifestyle and habits is usually thought to be the job of media, public relations, and activism, there is no reason that technology should not be central to how we understand, consider, and change our own energy usage. Most of us are unable to pay close attention to our own power consumption in our busy daily lives. Indeed, the purpose of consumer products is to make laborious tasks as simple and easy as possible by replacing a consumer's own energy with electricity or fossil fuels. As a result, it's easy for us to avoid personal responsibility in the global climate crisis. This can produce feelings of guilt and self-reproach in the consumer. Project Thigh Master is a system that alleviates this condition by assuring that reminders to save electricity will not go unnoticed, increasing its owner's peace of mind by setting a penalty for environmental waste.
The system consists of a personal techno-garter -- inspired by the Opus Dei cilice popularized in Dan Brown's Davinci Code -- worn on the thigh, communicating wirelessly to a set of low-power sensors measuring the wearers personal energy consumption. If the wearers electricity use exceeds a certain limit, the device plunges stainless-steel thorns into the wearer's thigh, a reminder of their complicity in the planet's demise, and perhaps their own mortality. Thigh Master aims to balance comfort and discomfort in a meaningful way in order to achieve sustainable change. Packaged in the form of yet another personal electronic device, the system helps people to break out of inefficient consumption patterns. But in addition to decreasing a user's energy use, Thigh Master can also provide relief for the less easily measured -- but no less real -- feeling of individual powerlessness in the face of accelerated climate change."
FEMINIZM4ALL : a framework for feminist technology intervention
"This thesis describes a feminist framework for technological interventions. I first define the problem by contrasting studies from psychology with research from other social sciences to determine that the primary reason for the gender imbalance in technological spaces is based in hostile work environments and not in the fact that women are disinterested as recent psychological research claims. This lack of diversity affects how technology products are shaped and how consumers interact with these artefacts. I outline a techno-feminist approach to intervention by looking at legislative and technological interventions into tech workspaces. Because this thesis is concerned with creating a framework for interventions rather than an individual technology, I describe different collaboration and production models typical to contemporary technology. These models are Web 2.0, open source software production, and collaborative platforms for distributing physical technology objects. In order to find out how to build a technological framework for making technology spaces more equitable for women, I created two projects. The first one is a Web 2.0 platform that provides data about gender and the technology workspace as well as instructions for visualizing it. The second one is a collaboration on a feminist technology for the workplace. The conclusion of the thesis is a description of future work based on these two projects."
PASS: protocols for alternative sexuality and sensibility
"It is often said that we live in a network society. Increased familiarity with technical networks has brought the concept to the forefront of public imagination making the network a dominant trope. Whether inherent or ascribed, topologies seem to appear in social theories, transportation systems, technological structures and biological systems to name only a few examples. Often descriptions of networks combine semantics reflecting both conceptual and physical meaning. Regardless of content, be it conceptualization of power, information between computers, relationships between people or neurons; networks rely on topologies and protocols that locate nodes in relation to one another. In the field of technology certain networks are apparent - the internet and the world wide web constitute easily identifiable examples. In the social sciences, descriptions of relationships between people and even of self identity lend nicely to nodes, edges, curves and vertices. In the blurring of boundaries between disciplines the language of the network also becomes a node of interconnection. Technology, sociology, and various branches of theory reference each other in a search for deeper meaning within disciplines.
Protocols for Alternative Sexuality and Sensibility or PASS is a wireless networked system designed to function with a multidisciplinary description of a network in mind, incorporating conceptual implications and technical implementation of networking. PASS is a system which visibly tracks connections in public space based on the embodiment of protocols associated with sexual identity. These user configured devices exchange information with other devices in order to uncover the often hidden interconnections created by the internalization of sexual identity. Sexual identity is represented by several alternative paradigms in addition to the culturally predicated homosexual/heterosexual binary. The resulting connections are made visible via independent graphical displays that indicate the various paradigms and connections at play. PASS shows how dominant cultural networks necessitate counter spaces which exist simultaneously in time and space with the hegemonic structures. It is in the revealing of these alternative spaces that I seek a technology of resistance; by connecting people in these counter spaces we create dynamic modes for understanding the influence of normativity and the experience of otherness. The physical representation of these theories reveal the hegemonic protocol structures of interconnection which we internalize as social norms."
"A few critical characteristics divide the world of traditional acoustic instruments from the vast majority of electronic and computer instruments. Namely, accessibility/immediacy and portability. Acoustic instruments can be taken places electronic ones can not, such as through the neighborhood pubs on street corners in Rio. They are lower maintenance than electronic ones. At the most, they require tuning or occasionally strings, while digital instruments may require batteries, disk space, upgrades, configuration, storage media, file conversion utilities and in some cases even subscriptions. Finally, most electronic instruments require additional components to function, such as an amplifier, power source, additional software components or a sequencer.
Yet electronic instruments are very popular for clear reasons: They can make completely different timbres, ones which are basically impossible to create with acoustic means. Also, these timbres are much more flexible. Thus I am designing a new family of musical instruments, which, like traditional acoustic instruments such as guitar and drums, derive their acoustic energy in direct proportion to the exertion of the player's muscles, yet have electric or electronic oscillators for sound generation."
1-bit Groove Box\\
Indescribable -- see web site documentation.
Ambient addition : how to turn urban noise into music
Wearable as Witness: Sensing and Categorizing Violent Forces in a Wearable System
"Physical abuse persists in part because of isolation and concealment. This project explores the design of a wearable computer system that could record and document abuse data in an effort to quantify physical abuse. In addition, the system could potentially assist the victim in the process of self-realization by confronting them with the cumulative history of their experienced abuse. Anonymous publishing of this information could lead to more supportive communities. The proposed system is in the form of apparel or smart clothing utilizing large area fabric-based pressure sensors to categorize and measure the intensity of forces to the wearer’s body. The work of this thesis is to develop and to characterize the use of the garment to assess what data it can provide.
As textile-based user interfaces find their way into clothing, the opportunity for computers to identify physical abuse will become apparent. Although a computer system cannot understand the feeling of pain or the emotional suffering a victim feels, it should be aware of the presence of physical abuse for medical, legal or therapeutic reasons. While no specific intervention will be possible in the scope of this thesis, it will function both as a proof of concept and as a surveying stake to demonstrate a possible field of future investigation."
The project starts in a backpack outfitted with a small micro controller and a GPS unit. Recent news of bombings in Iraq are downloaded to the unit, and their locations, relative to the center of the city, are superimposed on a map of Boston. If the wearer walks into a space in Boston that correlates to a site of violence in Baghdad, the backpack detonates and releases a compressed air cloud of confetti. Looking like a mixture of smoke, shrapnel and the white blossoms of a cherry tree, the explosion completely engulfs the wearer. Each piece of confetti is inscribed with the name of a civilian who died in the war, and the circumstances of his or her death."
|© 2012 Christopher P. Csikszentmihalyi - About Csikszentmihalyi - Computing Culture|