My Original Idea
My original idea was to replicate the seasons in processing. I wanted to create a sun which replicated the cycle of the seasons so that on the shortest day of the year the sun reached the lowest point on the screen and vice versa. I also wanted to create a tree which at autumn time lost its leaves and then in spring the leaves grew back, leaving the tree bare in winter and full of leaves during summer. I also had the idea to make weather patterns such as have clouds and rain (snow in winter).
I really like this idea and I think it could be great as a sort of calendar, maybe even as some sort of desktop background (though I don’t know how that would work in terms of programming). I think that I liked this idea so much that it was quite hard to let it go and come up with other ideas for the project, but it is something that I generally want to pursue at another time, as a personal project, because I like it that much. However, after discussing this idea in one of the seminars with Anna it was brought to my attention that there was no form of interactivity with the audience and that the idea didn’t work towards the brief.
Because I really wanted to pursue this idea for a while I tried to figure out how I could tweak it so that it was interactive. I came up with an idea that the sun could move faster when there were more people in the area, the way this would have worked was that depending on the amount of pixels that were changing in colour or brightness etc the velocity of the sun would increase. I also thought that the day could change from day to night so that the ‘sky’ would become brighter when the ‘sun’ was closer to the centre of the canvas. This was supposed to represent peoples busy lifestyles and the fact that we tend to miss out on things in life (or the day seems to go quicker) when we are busy. Though in retrospect I think that I was clutching at straws with this idea, as I had come up with an idea that I liked first and not put as much thought into the meaning that it would reflect.
However, this process was useful because it made me think of other ways in which the original idea could work, as it is the theme of having different effects depending on how many people there are in the space that was a theme I wanted to pursue and was at the time more important than the content (the content could be anything, for example the more people there are the more rectangles appear on a screen). I thought of the idea of having a time-lapse of a city and the city gets faster and busier (i.e. more traffic etc) depending on the amount of pixels changing on the camera. I didn’t pursue this idea however as I didn’t have a time lapse of a city available to me. This idea was the gap between my original idea and my final idea and reflects my iterative process.
My Final Idea
My final idea is to have a number of buildings appear on the screen depending on the number of pixels which are changing on the camera. What I would also like to do is have houses appear below the building also, depending on the amount of pixels that are changing. This is supposed to represent industrialism and growth of population (the more people there are the more natural land we need to convert to space for society to function).
My intention is to invoke a reaction from the audience but not to put a predetermined idea into their heads – i.e. I’m not trying to promote the idea that overpopulation is a problem but instead trying to get a person to think about the idea of overpopulation or the idea of manmade environments expanding in order to respond to a demand of more functional space. I also want them to consider the change of natural environments over time and our impact on the earth’s ecosystem but not necessarily in a negative or positive way because although personally I think that being in a city (I like the expression ‘concrete jungle’) could possibly make people less connected to nature, or think less about our impact on the natural eco system (it certainly has done for me in the past) the idea also brings up questions to me such as does a city hold any beauty? When I was in London recently I saw a view of the city from Alexandria Palace and it was a very aesthetically pleasing experience, so there can be a certain beauty in manmade environments also.
My idea also reflects the idea of collectiveness, the more people in a given space makes more buildings appear, which reflects that cities are made by human collaboration. You wouldn’t have such landscapes if you didn’t have a collaboration of individuals, therefore it explores the idea of society and individuals with diverse cultures and ethnicity coming together to achieve a mutual goal. Another concept I think my idea explores is the convolution of media and (in a lesser sense) technological determinism. The idea that as our society grows technologically, cultures become more globalised, news and information gets more convoluted because there are more media, more clashes of ideology and a vaster network to communicate within.
I doubt that the audience will understand all of this from interacting with the project but I think if they understood any of the concepts I’m trying to portray at all then it would be a success. I also feel like this project would work better in a busier place such as a train station or airport, or somewhere where people pass by frequently more than once a day, because if they were passing by at a peak time they would see a totally different thing than if they were coming home from work late at night, for example where as in a place such as Weymouth house there will never be that many people so it doesn’t truly reflect the significance of human’s impact on the earth.
There are still some things which I have to figure out technically such as how the camera is going to differentiate between the background and somebody passing through, but I think that I am capable of achieving this. Also I think it is quite important where the camera is placed but also where the screen is placed, and also whether people will actually know that they are interacting at all, because they might not understand that there are more buildings because there are more people in the area.
Something which I like about this however is it makes people interact without them having to perform a task which is outside of something they do in their day to day lives, meaning that instead of someone having to flail there arms about or make noise which they wouldn’t generally do, all they have to do is walk by the camera and hopefully notice the images change as they walk by. A good example of someone else’s work which reflects this idea is Golan Levin’s “Double-Taker” a robotic ‘eye’ which tracks people as they move around naturally in their environment. I find personally that I prefer this form of interaction because firstly it means that no instructions are required to interact, something which I found confusing with some installations in the Science museum where I thought to myself “what am I supposed to do”, secondly I also feel that depending on what environment I’m in it sometimes makes me uncomfortable to do things that are outside of how I act naturally around others because I know that other people are observing what I’m doing and I might look stupid (especially if I don’t know how I’m supposed to be interacting and I’m doing it wrong). I think in places such as a museum or an art exhibition this isn’t a problem as I know that there are things there which the artist intends for me to interact with, but in a location such as Weymouth house I would have no predetermined expectation that I would be going somewhere to stand around interacting with something, so I’m not prepared for it and it comes as a surprise which means that I’m not in that mindset to perform tasks which are outside of my comfort zone, but of course that’s just how I feel about it.
Levin, G., 2010. Double-Taker (Snout), Interactive Robot. Vimeo, Available from: http://vimeo.com/3793505 [Accessed 8 January 2015].