Fabrication Week 4: Making An Adjustable Enclosure For My PComp Final

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Our fourth assignment for Intro to Fabrication was to build an enclosure. Fortunately, this coincides with an immediate need I have for my PComp & ICM final. Long story short, we need a control panel. Step one to that control panel is my enclosure.

I started off with a sketch of what I wanted to achieve.

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The most difficult step was determining which types of screws I would use. I settled on 1/4″ nuts. Clearly, I wouldn’t need something so strong but aesthetically I like the way it looks more than thinner screws. I also decided I would use neoprene washers to give a little more cushion to the acrylic. I used smaller diameter washers for the bottom nuts since they would be tighter.

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Once I had my materials I drew the top and bottom of my enclosure in AI and cut it on the laser.

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I had to measure carefully as I was using leftover acrylic. That ish is expensive.

Once the cutting was done, assembly was easy.

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The reason I like the nut/bolt solution so much is that it allows me to adjust the height of my enclosure with relative ease.

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FIN

It’s Finals Time! Making Sense Of Work In A Post-Trump America

Remember these days?
Remember these days?
fuck-my-life
Reality check.

SO that happened. Election + results = awful, (for me, personally, and many people that I know and love, and even more people that I don’t know and will be effected even more drastically) and suddenly literally everything seemed trivial in the face of a grave international disaster.

Originally I was exploring use of the facial recognition library in order to read faces in a sketch and play back/generate relevant content for the consumer. (For example: Person comes up to computer, computer reads SAD, computer plays back empathetic music and suggests a few websites/exercises to help cope with SAD). But after the election, this didn’t seem like a particularly meaningful or inspiring project (even though there are probably a lot of SADS who could use some cheering up right now).

Alongside this, I was also developing a PCOMP project with my my collaboration partner Oriana. We were working on wearables, specifically a bodysuit with a touch-activated light response system. After play testing on Wednesday November 9 aka The Day After, we realized we were not at all interested or inspired by what we were generating.

So we pivoted.

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Our Idea

Create a piece that comments on the unique lexicon that has been cultivated and utilized specifically towards female-presenting individuals, and explore the violent and prohibitive effect it has on their often marginalized or reduced roll in society.

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How?

Working with dancer Elizabeth White, we will choreograph a piece that involves the same form factors as our original PCOMP final project, but with a different message. She will be in the same light-activated body suit, but attached to strings. The strings will be attached to sensors. At the start of the piece, the suit will be fully illuminated, but each time a string is pulled, it will trigger a P5 sketch to run that will both turn off the light attached to that area of the dancer, and trigger word clouds, quotations and negative sound bites to activate either on screen or through speakers. When the light goes out, the dancer also loses agency of the limb to which it is attached.

Eventually the dancer will crumble to the floor and be motionless.

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Content

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Drawing from personal experience and the news media, we will compile a dataset of sound clips, individual words, and quotations. They will be divided into four subsets: Career, Parenting, Sex, Public Space. Each subset will demonstrate certain terminologies used specifically for women in these arenas, with supporting content in the mediums mentioned above.

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Eventually, the dancer will regain strength through a series of touch sequences in which she is on the receiving end of more positive terminologies, and well regain agency of her limbs with the help of positive and empowering words.

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Fabrication Week 3: Trying Not To Fall In Love With The Laser

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But it’s hard.

Everyone's favorite distraction tactic.
Everyone’s favorite distraction tactic.

This week I wanted to try to make something that would fully exploit the precision afforded by the laser cutter. I had also made a trip to Canal Plastics and got super distracted by all the pretty acrylic sheets, and way enthusiastic about edge-lit acrylic after seeing this example in class.

 

Admit it's pretty cool.
Admit it’s pretty cooledge-lit-acrylic-2

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I had also been browsing the internets and stumbled across the works of Dutch artist Ferry Staverman:

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My idea was to create a bottom-lit light sculpture inspired by these cutout pieces and using edge-lit laser-cut acrylic as the medium. To start I made an AI sketch:

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My plan was to create cutouts that would fan out in a circle to create one larger shape. I decided to cut holes in each “wing” of the sculpture so that I could connect them internally for structural integrity. I also wanted to weave pretty (metallic, maybe?) thread externally to capture some of the light reflecting properties. I measured my acrylic sheets just to make sure that I’d be able to cut 8 pieces from every sheet.img_9874

Using the laser was a breeeeeze. I had to adjust the settings a few times to make sure that everything would cut on the second pass, but for the most part, the experience was surprisingly uncomplicated.

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I used the handy tape trick to make sure that my alignments didn’t get screwed up when testing whether or not the laser cut fully through the acrylic. (They didn’t the first time, they did every other time; I learned to look for sparks to gage whether the laser had cut through the acrylic entirely).

I also knew I needed to make a stand. This is where things got tricky. Here’s my AI sketch where I used both raster and vector functions:

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I knew from my test piece that I would need to etch several times before the grooves in my stand would be deep enough to hold my cut pieces. But each time I recut my AI file the piece of acrylic would move in the machine, even if I made sure it was aligned at 0/0 every time.

 

Not ideal but it'll have to do.
Not ideal but it’ll have to do.

Recognizing that it’d be futile to continue with the same approach I decided to use the oldest trick in the game: putty.

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I then, as originally planned, used thread to weave the pieces together with the holes I had precut in the laser. It took far more thread than I realized I would need and I was unable to get to the decorative portion of weaving. The result was a lack of structural integrity where the putty was still a completely necessary part of the sculpture.

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Probably the thing that I love the most about this piece is the way it captures light. I’d like to continue exploring different mounts/setups for the piece as the semester progresses. This piece is especially beautiful in the dark:

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I love the stained glass effect it achieves. Let’s see where it goes!

 

Fabrication Week 2: If You Can Do It Once You Can Do It 5x: A Meditation On How NOT To Make A Picture Frame

So here’s the thing: Trump won the election and now I’m supposed to write about picture frames. Though it’s a bit difficult to focus at the moment, I’m struck by the words of a professor earlier today. He said that what we’re making here (whether it’s a fabricated or digital piece or both) is really about interaction, and communicating with other people.

Learning to build things and starting conversations from them is invaluable, so paying very close attention to *making* today, instead of destroying was in a way cathartic. Although (and I will now switch to a more lighthearted tone), this post is really about how NOT to make.

My assignment was to make something, and make it five times. More importantly, I was tasked to make the SAME thing. I (stupidly, naively) thought that it would somehow be a good idea to make picture frames. (I thought I could give them to my famjam as homemade fancy design person presents for the Holidays). This was altogether a bad idea. And here’s why:

 

Step 1: I cut my own wood.

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That’s not so great, because this is what happens when you do that:

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Yes, those are real measurements. Shoutout to my fly as hell pencil though. (It has a flat eraser so it doesn’t roll. Genius).

Step 2: I bought beveled wood.

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Don’t do that to yourself. I had to arrange my rig on the chop saw a billion times so that my cuts would be directional. That was not fun, nor was it easy. It also meant that my cuts were extremely inaccurate (see above).

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My handy miter saw. Hello my frenemy.

3. I cut at a 45 degree angle. 

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This was dumb because it presented me with eight opportunities to screw up fitting corners together.

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I needed to sand a lot, at an angle,and clamping my corners was an exercise in futility, but it ended up being ok because the sanding gave me a smoother fit anyway.

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This is a photo of it all sort of working out. Take that Trump.

4. Speaking of cutting wood at an angle. Why even do that at all? I could literally go to Michael’s and get 4″ 45 degree cut bevelled wood for like, no dollars.

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Anyway, I used wood putty to fill in any of the cracks of the corners that didn’t work. It was helpful:

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I also used the dremmel to sand down the wood putty to conform to the shape of the frame once it dried.

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Ready for my closeup.

And then, because why not ruin everything you touch (a la Trump), I decided to stain my frames:

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5. Why not just buy your own picture frames?

The results are TBD, but preliminaries are a little shaky. For instance, wood glue, as you would have it, does not successfully absorb stain, which caused some interesting results in the pattern department. Also, wood putty is hyper absorbent. And also the natural wood is pretty. I’m conflicted. Final opinions tomorrow, when the stain has dried.

 

 

How To Playtest In A Post-Apocalyptic World

Well, it’s November 9th and the world didn’t physically explode, but we do have one of the most revolting humans in recent history as president elect. How do we get past that? Well, we playtest:

Bill Of Materials

 

Instructions

Playtesting

Schematic

Our schematic isn’t *close* to being complete and/or accurate. It’s a mere representation of the types of materials we may be using and the potential behaviors they might exibit. As we haven’t finalized the hardware we will use for our wearables to communicate, nor the structure of the feedback mechanism, we will be relying heavily on in-class playtesting to observe the most natural course of action for our users.

ICM Week 8: Working With Media

This week our assignment was to work with and manipulate external media. In this weeping misery of an election, why not manipulate the most ubiquitous media topic of all? The one and only Donald J. Drumpf.

As my subject was so precious, I was diligent about practicing all of the different media manipulations we had learned in class with our favorite city cat, Badger. Some examples:

Pixelated Badger
Pixelated Badger
Badger translated with weird mouseX,Y function and sin wave nonsense. (Bonus, mousePressed reveals...PizzaRat!)
Badger translated with weird mouseX,Y function and sin wave nonsense. (Bonus, mousePressed reveals…PizzaRat!)
Same ish, but now with png transparency and a background outside of the draw function for some randomized Badgers.
Same ish, but now with png transparency and a background outside of the draw function for some randomized Badgers.

Clearly, now I was ready for the good stuff. My idea was to run a video with sound that would map trumps mouth using the pixel recognition. This was ambitious. After attempting several different itterations, I finally settled on making a trump keyboard with zen music playing in the background and a trimmed trump video on a loop.

 

Here is the result.

It’s sort of a sound board, but my intention was much more complicated. I’l keep at it, let’s see what happens…

Fabrication Week 1: A Flashlight For All Seasons

For our first assignment we were tasked with building a flashlight from scratch! I’m always thinking about sustainability and recycled materials, so I thought it’d be interesting to work with recycled plastic bottles.

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Here are my materials:

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PLUS two plastic waterbottles and two AA Batteries.  Here’s a quick photo essay of how I made my project:

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Step 1 -Use an exacto knife to cut the top off of one bottle, and the top third off another water bottle (you must use the same water bottle -otherwise they won’t match/fit. Glue popsicle sticks about half way around the caps -the entire distance between the two caps should be the length of the sticks.

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Step 2 -Glue a cradle for your AA batteries, plus additional shortened popsicle sticks so that your wires remain separated (+/-).

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Step 3 -Cut a strip of plastic from your bottle and use pliers to make a spring. Wrap the spring in copper wire and glue to the end that has the additional sticks for separating wires. Run wire out the conical end of the flashlight.

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Step 4 -Create an additional wire  loop to go to the other end of your flashlight. Run through the length of the flashlight so that it emerges on the large conical end of the flashlight.

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Step 5 -Cut the sides of the second cap so that it’s just  a disc. Poke holes in it and stick in LED (make whether sides are positive or negative so that the LED receives voltage correctly. Attach wires that are running through the flashlight cradle.

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Step 6 – Glue the disk to the interior of the flashlight, and secure the LED with glue as well.  Pull wires through cradle and make sure they never touch. Once wires are placed, close the interior of the battery cradle with an additional popsicle stick. Stack more sticks on top so that there will be no space between. Close the remaining half of the flashlight shell with popsicle sticks.

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final

Step 7 -Take the remaining cap and poke a hole in it. Insert wire so that when you screw cap closed, the wire is touching the back of the battery. Note that the wire MUST go through the wire loop. And voila, your flashlight works! Be sure to glue down the portion of wire protruding from the cap so that the wire doesn’t bend/escape.

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So why a flashlight for all seasons? Well, in my mind there would be color gels that would slide over the light and correspond to a season, like in my brainstorming sketch. Alas, they’re not quite done, though I’ll be updating the post throughout the evening and hopefully will have them completed to show in class tomorrow!