[FMP] Final Summative Statement

Summary:

My final major project is entitled ‘Common Ground’ and it is a large scale immersive installation about cross cultural definitions of personal space in urban environments.

Submission Elements:

Set up installation, Submitted Keynote/PDF

Key Things You Learned:

Electronics and Coding – Arduino & Processing.

Editing down the concept to essential elements.

Designing for live interaction with people.

Professional Contact:

Forpeople

Kin Design

Gzresiek Sedek

Virgilio Oliveira

Philip Mill

Tutors

Testing Opportunities:

I’ve had a long testing phase of the various elements: the projection distance and size, the darkness of the room, the shape and position of the walls, blackout materials. I’ve talked to many friends and acquaintances about the concept to understand if the idea was immediately accessible to them.

Influencing your Future:

As far as I’m concerned, this project is the beginning of my future. I’ve dealt with new concepts of interaction and spatial design, moving away from traditional graphics. I’ve realised that this is what I want to do and what I’m best at. I can’t wait to do more.

[FMP] Developing Spatial Sound

Now that my dial phone is successfully communicating numbers to the Arduino Serial (getting the Processing Console to recognise patterns of numbers is another story!), I really need to start editing some of the sound that’s going to accompany the installation.

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 11.00.17I got in contact with a friend of mine who’s something of a sound wizard, and whom I greatly admire, and he promptly replies with some very helpful feedback (more helpful than I’d been able to get at Chelsea if I’m honest). He suggested a range of options but I decided to give Unity a go, since I’ve heard of the software before and I quite fancy learning it even beyond the scope of this project. Unity is usually used as a 3d software for game design and, looking at the interface, I’m glad I’ve already learned the basics of 3d modelling with Cinema 4d or even Sketchup, which make it feel a little more accessible.

With Unity, I don’t really need to learn the ins and outs of materials and textures but more realistically just focus on the implementation of sound. It might seem like an odd choice, but apparently Unity can be used a bit unconventionally, yet successfully, to create the illusion of sound moving in space. To do this, I’ve been following some tutorials and I’ve figured out the way the software uses Audio Sources and Listeners, and how to toggle things like Volume, Doppler level and Rolloff in the GameObject Inspector Panel. I’m quite interested in seeing how all of this is incorporated in the script as well, and eventually figure out how to export the sounds as mp3’s for Processing. Oh, by the way I’ve figured out how to trigger sound files in Processing. Whoop! Whoop! Hopefully I’ll finish these city scapes by the end of the day, and I’ll upload them so you can give them a listen.

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[FMP] Testing Projections + Exhibition Space

Testing out the size of the projection in a room at university.  Managed to get a 3m diameter circle by having the short throw projector 3.1 metres off the ground. Pretty decent. Now just have to make a rig for it!

test projection 3rd Year roomtest projection 3rd Year room 1triangle space 3triangle space 2

This is the entrance to the final space we’ve decided is going to be used for the installation. Pretty happy with it, didn’t think I would get away with it to be honest!

[FMP] Industry Feedback

I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to some leading designers in two London multidisciplinary design studios, over the last two days. I shared my project with them and they replied with some honest and useful feedback, expressing both their praise and their concerns about the direction I’m going in. It was actually really great to get out of the studio for a bit and get some fresh perspectives, and it was incredibly useful for me in knowing what to expect whence I graduate.

On the good side, everyone seemed to understand and appreciate the project as a whole, it has legs and potential as an idea – so no fundamental issues there. The designers responded positively to the data I’m working with, one particularly enjoying the infographic from CNNMoney (http://money.cnn.com/interactive/economy/personal-space/ or see below) and encouraging me to use that as a starting point for the branding of the experience. There is definitely a theme emerging with the circle, from the projection to the infographic to the dial phone itself, so I’m definitely thinking of using it for the identity of the project.

The first designer had a bit of an issue with the visibility and accessibility of the project, and suggested that the installation should be open to more than one person at once, to further promote public engagement and conversation. He suggested I think about personal space in a more fluid and changing way, enabling people to enter and exit as they please, while having a single position from one person can control the projection. They also stressed the importance of having a good piece of introductory copy at the entrance of the experience, using simple language and clear design. Both of the designers seemed to think that it would be an improvement if I made the data somehow accessible to the people not directly within the experience. Having spoken to them, now I think I should definitely steer in the direction of clarity and simplicity, one response having been “pick one thing and do that really well, and edit down the rest“. I really need to pin down exactly what the project is about, and everything, from branding to building materials, will be dictated by that. Yet simple is often the hardest.

There were general concerns about the sound, both because it would cut off other people from the experience and because potentially it breaks the visual metaphor of the dial phone. While the benefit of headphones would be having binaural sound, maybe it’s not really worth the trouble. The function of the binaural sound is to mimic the sense of claustrophobia you get when you’re in a crowd, can that be done if I use surround sound and multiple people are in the space? That automatically changes the project to be about the spatial relationship between the people in the space, pushing the idea of cultural differences into the background. I might need to simplify the project and forget about headphones and create a surround soundscape with the sounds of the different cities, having the intensity and frequency change according to the radius of the circle.
The designers seemed to think there might be too many things at play, and I should just make it all about one element, the projection, or the sound, or whatever else, and just drive that home.

One designer highlighted the importance of the animation of the circle, to make the installation less static and more fluid. I was also thinking about getting rid of the phone plinth and having animated footsteps, almost indicating the presence of an invisible person in this invisible city we’re in. Also, what if I had the interface on the outside, to create a relationship between the people outside and inside? So that people outside choose what city is created on the inside, which is then revealed to them when they go in.

Another thing that was mentioned was illustrating where the places are on the map because not everyone would know exactly the cities, and it’d be nice to see them all in relation to each other.

I’m any case, I’ll think about all of these things a little and after a tutorial tomorrow I hope I’ll have some answers.

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[FMP] Thinking about Materials

 

The last few days I’ve spent beginning to unpack exactly what the experience is going to look and feel like in terms of materials. I’ve visited the space and, with the degree show group, we’ve established exactly where the installation is going to go. I’ve worked out an interface that I think is suitable: using an old dial up phone to select the city by dialling the area code for that country (eg. London would be 0044, Rome 0039 etc). I can wire up the dial mechanism to the Arduino board and have it transfer data values to processing which will then select the circle.

Challenge: spot the gremlin in the photo below, getting in the way of my projection testing.

projection testing

 

Photos of the space where the installation will have to go. Will require a large amount of blacking out.

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Working the installation into the degree show – all the options I could think of: