Monthly Archives: October 2013

Long Live the Web [2011] – Tim Berners Lee

Hierarchical entities that govern us, defend us, and profit from our (public) data have recently come under scrutiny for the way in which they’ve been collecting and using our data. The elements have thrived by overwhelming and embedding themselves in the network (the web). The most likely scenario is that the network (the market) will reclaim and topple the most overt hierarchies, but more subtle and nefarious forces will remain in place.

An excerpt from Long Live the Web:

The Web as we know it, however, is being threatened in different ways. Some of its most successful inhabitants have begun to chip away at its principles. Large social-networking sites are walling off information posted by their users from the rest of the Web. Wireless Internet providers are being tempted to slow traffic to sites with which they have not made deals. Governments—totalitarian and democratic alike—are monitoring people’s online habits, endangering important human rights.

If we, the Web’s users, allow these and other trends to proceed unchecked, the Web could be broken into fragmented islands.

Perhaps what is most frightening is a validation that fragmentation, nationalization, and ultimately isolation, is something we desire; that we want to be closed in and controlled under some form of religion, secular humanism isn’t enough. The internet may very well enslave us.

I don’t actually believe this … but it’s really easy to by cynical about this sort of thing.

Much harder, but much more productive, is to think about how we can combat the hierarchical forces that would dominate us. The great thing about the web is it’s universality, the ability make universal connections without permission. We can leverage the web to become a force for democracy, diversity, equality, and universal empathy. The web has the potential to provide a vast virtual marketplace for information and services which be more nimble, responsive, and open than the hierarchical elements that currently dominate.

Reflections on Tangible Interfaces

Has learning to build tangible interfaces changed your view of what constitutes good physical
interaction,  or has it strengthened your initial ideas?

As we pass the half-way point of the semester, I suppose it is a good time to look back on what I’ve personally accomplished and share some thoughts on physical interaction

Building tangible interfaces hasn’t necessarily changed my view on what constitutes a good physical interaction, it has fortified it. I’m still on board with Chris Crawford; any exchange of energy/information between two subjects can be technically qualified as an interaction, however just because the exchange is taking place doesn’t mean it’s of a high quality. Listening, thinking, and speaking (receive, process, respond) are all essentials parts of the communication, according to Crawford, all three of them have to be working for quality interaction to occur.  

Working with tangible interfaces has reinforced this attitude, but more than anything it has opened up new avenues for expression and introspection, design, delight, and play. Systems (some) and mechanics that once seemed obscure are now accessible and hackable.  

In terms of creative exploration and introspection, pathways have been opened up through new means of sensing the world and forming expressive responses to it. Tangible interfaces engage more than just the eyes or the hands,  using tangible interactions to engage all of the senses can give extra dimensionality and added dimensionality to art while enabling the artist mix additional media into their work. Eventually I would like to explore the use of wireless communication to enable a device such as a aerial drone to experiment with photographic compositions and sound. 

Additionally the potentials for tangible interfaces are great in the design world. In architecture and planning, paper (or more recently the screen) has been the frame through which designers simulate their solutions. The introduction of object based play into the design process could not only lend itself to non-linearity through a parametric physical-digital relationship, but also to the inherent spatial issues involved in architectural design.

I can also imagine the expansion of tangible interfaces having an exciting impact on sculptural issues in art and design. For instance, something like interactive sculpting clay that allows broad and minute modifications to digital and physical geometry. This type of input//output object could tie into the internet to enable collaborative sculpting.

Maybe there’s an idea for a final project in here somewhere …

Mirror Balls

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 12.39.26 PM Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 12.39.14 PM Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 12.39.05 PM


The challenge this week was to use processing to manipulate pixels on an image. Building off of what I’ve been working on over the past couple weeks – collision detection and arrays – I created a hacked mirror from my computer’s webcam.

The algorithm works like this:

1. Find all the pixels on the screen
2. Draw a ball
3. If any given pixel is within 50 pixels of the ball, increase its size.



balls on balls

Screen Shot 2013-10-09 at 10.38.28 AM


this week I was introduced to the concept of array lists … a list of lists of sorts. the array list allowed me to create an interface to interact with … balls … lots of balls. in this exercise i experimented with ways to generate other shapes using animation of primitives.

source code is here.

some notes on ‘in the blink of an eye’ by walter murch

“…film is more like thought than anything else.” – John Huston

“… the director is the ringmaster of a circus that is inventing itself” – francis coppola

The cut.

In film, the cut is a strange experience that breaks our continuous perception into pieces and transports us through time. Why do we accept it and why does it work?

…Perhaps we accept the cut because it resembles the way that images are assembled in our dreams. However, we still know so little about the nature of dreams that this observation is relatively shallow.

Murch also suggests that the cut has a conscious, physical incarnation as well. The blink is the physical mechanism that interrupts the continuity of our visual perception, cutting the flow of visual images into more significant bits. Providing a frame through which we organize our thoughts and digest information.

Murch provides an example from one of his films. During editing, he noticed that Gene Hackman blinked at about the same time that the scene needed to be cut. To Murch, this represented that Hackman understood as an actor when the thought of the scene or a particular dialogue was complete and was ready to transition to the next one.

… our rate of blinking is somehow geared more to our emotional state and to the nature of frequency of our thoughts than to the atmospheric environment  we find ourselves in. the blink is either something that helps an internal separation of thought to take place, or it is an involuntary reflex accompanying the mental separation that is taking place anyways.

…you will find that your listener will blink at the precise moment he or she ”gets” the idea.

… for instance, a person being assailed simultaneously by many conflicting emotions and thoughts is desperately using blinks to try to separate thoughts, sort things out, and regain some kind of control.

so, what makes a good cut?


how to make the cut feel right (Murch)

one. identify potential cut points

two. determine what effect each cut would have on the audience

three. choosing which one of those effects is right for the film


Aside from his advise on how to edit film, I found Murch’s book to be a more general guide for design. In many ways, his book wasn’t just about film and where it is headed, but about all creative disciplines coming to terms with new modes of production. Here are a few pieces of his advice that I find relevant in architecture as well.

don’t losing track of the big picture - constantly remind yourself of the important pieces to capture (print outs of key frames of important moments) – the photos provided heiroglyphs for a language of emotion – there isnt a word for it in english, but you can see it in the photo

getting caught up in the details – it’s easy to lose track of the big picture when you’re staring at details all day.

scale – Murch places himself in the theater to remind himself of the way that his film would actually be enjoyed. To me this says that empathy is important – considering others and consider the context for your design is key to its success.

don’t allow yourself to be impregnated by the conditions of production (for Murch this means emotional artifacts don’t necessarily need to carry into the final product)

emotional attachment and objective detachment - stepping away from your creative work for editorial purposes can sometimes be the best thing you can do.

do your best to see only what is on the screen – be objective

organization – keep notes – index things – properly store information

test screenings – can be extremely educational, but be cautious. forces a new light of criticality of your own work, self-conscious criticality – seeing things you’ve never seen before. To me this highlights the importance of getting outside opinions to add depth to the work.

faith – cutting out the heart or the umbilical? sometimes you just have to have faith that you’re doing the right thing


dream reader :: dreamer (editor :: director) – the editor prods the director to reveal the essence of the work. there should be a close relationship relationship between the technical and creative elements of the work.

multiple contributors – avoiding the single viewpoint can be an important way to achieve success.


the tools make a difference – linear :: non-linear workflow – analog :: digital/parametric – different tools allow us to explore and execute our ideas differently

speed  - and the downfalls of speed – the tool taking over, cuts happening too quickly. design is a slow process and can be at odds with speed at time. Rigor becomes the most important element of the design process.

reduced cost

fewer people – loss of the rigor of technique, collaboration. fresco painting was an expensive effort of many people with interlocking technologies, overseen by the artist, who took responsibility for the final product. the emergence of the solitary tortured genius of modernity.

easier access 

preservation of different versions – reflective of design iterations, sorting through the infinite design options more rigorously, more effectively opens up more creative avenues

reduced book keeping 

an observation and a couple rhetorical questions:

film making process has the potential to add richness to other design processes through focusing on story telling (narrative, emotion, rhythm, etc.) transitions between elements.

the cut is a distinct threshold, a point of inflection … if cuts are reflective of our conscious and subconscious realities, what does this state about our ability to live in a world where thresholds don’t exist?

the cut has the potential to interrupt our existential continuity as well; history, society, time, space. how can we use cuts to draw attention to the non-linear nature of history, space, time, and culture?

Lonely Pong Modules

This week’s assignment was to modularize last week’s code.

Source below with a few modifications.

//the ball, size, and speed
float ballX;
float ballY;
float ballR = 20;
float speedX = 3;
float speedY = 3;

//paddle position
float padX;
float padY;
float padW;
float padH = 5;

//general parameters
int lives = 1;
int resets = 5;
int score = 0;
int textFade = 100;

void setup() {
size(500, 500);
ballX = random(10, width – 10);
ballY = random(10, height – 10);
padY = height – (height*.1);
padW = width/10;

void draw() {


if (lives > 0) {

else {