Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Week Four Experience Documentation


  • As a class we discussed the Electric Body Manipulation as Performance Art: A historical Perspective article by Arthur Elsenaar and Remko Scha. 
    • From the reading, I found the evolution of the use of electricity interesting, from the original naming from the Greeks to contemporary uses.
    • The split between applying electricity in both harmful and harmless ways to the human body was beneficial to the development of concepts regarding the use of electricity in performance art, such as the body's tolerance and what can be accomplished.
    • Current applications of performance art in regards to interacting with other people is continuing to be explored.
  • We discussed the Semester Project Proposals given by the Advanced Students so that we had an example of what we will need for our final project proposals.
    • Seeing the layout of the presentation was helpful. They consisted of background ideas and inspiration, facts about what is trying to be accomplished, relevant contemporary ideas, the actual proposal, and a listing of materials and costs associated with these materials.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Hertzian Tales and Project Design

          The reading of Hertzian Tales contains interesting ideas about electronic art. Overall, the writing discusses the use of theory, often specifically semiotic theory, to create meaningful works. According to the text, electronics were forced to become tied to the continuing evolution of consumerism as a result of its usefulness in material objects. However, despite being so important in our daily lives, electronics are often not viewed theoretically in their most simplistic forms. Instead, society tends to focus on the built application of electronics over the simple parts, such as with radios. While the individual pieces are not seen as valuable, once the object is assembled into a working interface the object beings to obtain value. This application of meaning is also reinforced by the role electronics play in consumerism, since society enforces the idea that progress needs to be made so that new and better applications of electronics can be created.
          When considering the role of electronics in culture, one must also consider material culture theory, since the evolution of electronics and their uses must be examined. Relying on semiotic theory, one can examine the semiotic signs and meanings associated with the object and its use to develop a complete understanding of the object’s place in its culture, and then begin to develop other methods of viewing or applying the object in contemporary society. However, because one common method of designing objects is to continue relying on the object’s world-known sign, the object often begins to be constrained even when revolutionized. Viewpoints are often constrained to the object's function, since the object purposefully illustrates the role it plays in society in a relatable way, such as a phone. Even though new models of phones are being created, the basic model of a phone is understood in many different cultures because of the continuation of the object’s form in relation to the history of the object’s purpose.
         In order to create new ideas, one must break from completely following traditional modes of thought. This mode of thought is expressed in the writing’s reference to Theodore Adorno, which states that Adorno believed that “authentic art could only function to resist totalization if it was strange and unfamiliar.” When thinking about my project, I considered aspects from the reading such as the above statement, as well as the idea of the poetry of everyday objects. When considering these ideas, I tried to think about basic, common ideas of circuitry and electronics. Reducing this, I thought about the starting point for many objects that surround us: power. From there, power is understood to be supplied from outlets. So, I am planning to create an object in the form of a power strip. The circuit chip will be placed inside of the strip, and wires will connect to the inside of the outlet. Therefore, the circuit will be completed when someone sticks something in the "outlet". I chose this idea because I felt that outlets are extremely recognizable, and are often the most important part of every electronic, since power is required to operate other electronics. Another motivation behind this thought was that outlets are often contextualized to be dangerous in the sense that people are not supposed to complete the circuit with metal, and I feel that this relates to the noisiness and loud quality of this project. While interesting, the sounds produced by the circuit are often harsh on the ears, a quality I find particularly irritating since as a child I have hated extremely loud noises. The fear and annoyance I felt while attempting to test this circuit relates to the feelings one might have when being told to complete the circuit. 

Fig 1. Basic Design Sketch

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Week Three Experience Documentation


  • As a class we discussed out poster designs for our wetware upgrade proposals.
    • I thought it was interesting how some posters only used images to promote the idea, while others primarily relied on text to slyly copy advertisements common today.
    • For my idea, I was told that having the image drawn in more of a first-person perspective, such as through an almost fish eye view, would be beneficial for my idea. I have been considering creating the image for fun, but will have to do so when I have more free time.
  • I practiced reading schematics to build and solder a blinky circuit.
    • There was not a circuit diagram, so the process mainly involved reading and following along with the textual instructions.
    • The soldering was an interesting learning experience. It was highly stressful, but after a couple attempts I started beginning to get the hang of soldering. I still work pretty slow right now.
  • I practiced reading and interpreting a circuit diagram in order to build a Tactical Noise Circuit (TNM) on a breadboard.
    • I chose to do the second and third designs, choosing to focus on altering the third design.
    • I primarily focused on building the design from the circuit diagram, since I wanted practice interpreting them.
  • As a class we discussed Art of Noises
    • The important undertones about conformity and attempting to break out of traditional modes of thought to create new ideas and ways of thinking was discussed.
    • The context of the article was explored by discussing events that were occurring during the time the article was written, and then applying these thoughts to certain statements in the readings. 

Tactical Noise Circuit (TNM) Experience

         In this lab we were given a breadboard, speaker, battery, and connecting wires, along with circuit diagrams of three different TNM circuits. Similar to the blinkies, I mostly just followed the instructions on the diagram and Thomas's example images, only changing some minor elements here and there.
          When building the second circuit, the only changes I made concerned Thomas's design, one of which being that the resistors and wire for TCH3 (touch 3) were placed in a farther row, simply for my preference. I also changed the order of the elements in some of the rows, including the one for TH3.
          Similarly, when building the third circuit, I mainly changed the placement of Thomas's design, for the resistor was still placed in a different row. I also left the power wiring on the other side of the board, only moving the wire over to the right one row so that it connected to TCH5 (touch 5). I did this because I don't like when my wires get too messy, and by leaving the power connection on the other side of the board I cleaned up the area a bit.

 Fig 1. TNM Circuit #2
Fig 2. TNM Circuit #3

Blinkie Soldering Experience

          In this lab we created a Blinkie system by using a kit that came with schematics. As far as my process went, I simply followed the written instructions. I had to ask a tech to show me how they solder because I couldn't seem to get the shape correct at first, but after a few times the process became a tiny bit more comfortable.
          I found it interesting how careful you have to be to make sure you do no have the solder connect any points on the circuit. However, when soldering the battery, it doesn't matter if the two battery sections are connected to the first component because that is how the current is supposed to flow anyway.
          The first picture included is the top of the board illustrating the components, and the second photo is the bottom of the board illustrating the solder points. 

 Fig 1. Components on Board

Fig 2. Solder Points

Week Two Experience Documentation


  • There were technically no classes this week, so for this week I mostly learned new information through websites and videos provided in the course calendar.
  • I read Art of Noises by Luigi Russolo, which discusses an inventive way to use noises and sounds from the environment to create “noise-sound”.
    • The reading is important because Russolo is also more broadly talking about breaking from tradition in order to discover new ideas, for tradition often sets boundaries on free-thinking and limits new findings.
    • The idea of “noise-sound” became more possible during this time as a result of the Industrial Revolution and warfare.
  • I created a poster to exhibit what wetware upgrade I would like to have performed on me, and I used The Lunar Chronicles book series for the idea.
    • The upgrade would allow me to tap into the internet at all times, and I would see blocks of information relevant to what I was looking up, such as websites, blueprints, or messages.
  • I learned about soldering through videos and readings.
    • Usually lead-free solder is used since it is not harmful, but this material has a higher melting point and often involves a flux core that helps make lead-free solder flow better. It can sometimes be more expensive.
    • The tip of the soldering iron transfers heat to allow the solder to melt from a spool.
    • When soldering, the soldering tip is placed on the joint, then the solder is placed on the side of the tip and heated, then the solder is pulled back followed by the soldering tip. The shape should look like a Hershey’s Kiss, and should not touch other parts of the circuit board. 
    • If a mistake is made, a soldering vacuum can be used on the reheated solder.
    • A brass sponge is typically used when soldering, and excess solder has to be wiped off.
    • The tip should be cleaned before use by touching the solder to the soldering tip and then wiping the tip in the brass sponge. 
    • Helping hands are a useful tool that holds the circuit board while you solder. 

Art of Noises Response

         The Art of Noise, by Luigi Russolo, discusses important ideas of how noise should be utilized, and in what form. Russolo begins by stating an interesting point that before industrialization, life was relatively silent, with the most noise coming from natural events such as hurricanes and storms. Therefore, to Russolo it came as no surprise that humans were “amazed” by sounds man-made, such as string instruments. Overtime, music became seen to be divine. Connecting Russolo’s thoughts about the first loud sounds being from nature, I believe that music obtained such high regard because of humanity’s natural reverence of nature, and for sound to now be obtainable in a fashion still tied to the sounds of nature must have been extremely important.
          Russolo then briefly discusses the evolution of sound and music in a paragraph that I found extremely enlightening, beginning with the Greeks, as is often the case. According to Russolo, Greeks based musical theory on Pythagoras’s mathematical findings, which to Russolo inhibited the discovery of other types of music (such as what he is proposing) by limiting the type of music that could be created. Russolo then discusses the Middle Ages, where music was created using a modified version of the “Greek tetracord system,” illustrating the bindings of the Greeks’ rules.
          However, despite the challenges presented by history, the music of “noise-sound” became possible when Russolo discovered that everyday noises, now louder as a result cultural events such as that of the Industrial Revolution and war, could be used to create noise-sound. When proposing this idea, Russolo is also communicating the idea that society should break out of its imposed constraints in order to discover new ideas, such as with music. Many of the rules society followed were placed upon them from earlier generations, and instead of continuing to follow these traditions, Russolo attempts to communicate that there is much undiscovered territory that can only be found by breaking out of these traditions.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Upgrade Your Wetware

         The poster I designed is inspired by The Lunar Chronicles book series, where Marissa Meyer creates a story based on different fairy tales. The story begins with Cinder, based off of Cinderella, where a cyborg girl that is treated badly in her family finds out she's the missing Lunar princess. As a result of a fire, Cinder had a bunch of alterations to make up for the damage. The main upgrade that I am focusing on is the implementation a control panel in her brain that isn't really described fully but ultimately allows her to connect to the "Net database." She can look up news, send "comm links" or messages, pull up blueprints, and so forth. Cinder views the information through a retina display located in her eye. So, I have illustrated this idea by placing rectangles of information (as I imagine them) in my eye, and then used larger rectangles to communicate how I might see the information. I used the style shown because I was trying out a new application I bought, and I am not completely used to all of its capabilities as of yet. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Electric Body Manipulation as Performance Art

          Electric Body Manipulation as Performance Art: A historical Perspective, by Arthur Elsenaar and Remko Scha, is extremely enlightening concerning the history of how electrical manipulation evolved to become what it is today. Separated into three groups of discussion, the human body's relation to electricity is explored through the body's basic electrical properties, the body's limits when receiving current, and the ability to influence the body's movements through cybernetic means. All three areas of discussion are laced with the history leading to these topics as well as possible uses and developments from the discoveries of these properties, later building to illustrate how these ideas can be utilized in contemporary art.
          When illustrating the basic electrical properties of the human body, the reading first highlights the role of the Greeks in naming amber's ability to "attract small particles" as "electricity," beginning the long journey of discovering how to utilize "electricity." Later, in the 18th century, Stephen Gray would use this basic idea to discover what would later be known as "electrical induction," or the ability to carry current through different objects. The first event of performance art through the use of the human body as a medium in relation to electricity was done by Gray, with his use of an 8-year-old boy. The boy, suspended in the air, attracted particles through the air to his hands and face which contained a positive charge, for the boy's feet were forced to have a negative charge from a positively charged glass placed next to his feet. After this performance, many other experiments in the form of performances were created, such as Gray connecting multiple people to carry current through hand-holding or other objects and George Mathias Bose's Venus Electrificata, where current would be transferred through the audience's contact with the Venus.
          Building on Gray's discoveries, Ewald Georg von Kleist and Pieter van Musschenbroek created what came to be known as the "Leyden jar." Allowing stronger charges to be utilized, the Leyden jar allowed multiple performances to utilize electricity. However, while larger feats and discoveries were possible through the Leyden jar, the limits of the human body began to be discovered as a result of the strength of the charge. Therefore, the reading then begins to discuss the limits of the human body, and explores experiments through animals and corpses that allowed this effect of electricity to be explored. Eventually, distinctions between direct current (DC) and alternating current (AD) were realized, and while certain positive creations, such as the first power plant that channeled electricity for human use, were developed, a rather dark purpose was also created. As a result of the destructive testing of muscles and tissues and the deaths of people through contact with the voltage lines, the electric chair was eventually created by dentistry professor Alfred P. Southwick. Eventually replacing the "barbaric" practice of hanging, the electric chair became the means to administer the death penalty, and illustrated the body's limits when receiving current.
          In a more positive fashion, the limits of the human body were utilized to unlock the possibilities of influencing the body's movements through cybernetic means. Beginning with Jean Jallabert, the body's responses to electric shocks from Leyden jars were explored. More performances utilizing the human body's relation to electricity were created, such as Luigi Galvani's manipulation of people's expressions through electricity. Eventually, Duchenne de Boulogne created the technique of "Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Simulation," which triggers individual muscles through electrodes carefully placed and managed on the body's skin. This utilization of electricity paved the way for contemporary use of cybernetic manipulation to create performances. Artists such as Stelarc and Arthur Elsenaar now create performances that interact with audiences and external stimuli through the use of the human body as medium, allowing external factors to influence the triggering of specific muscles in the body.
          Overall, the long history of experimentation and discovery in regards to electricity's relation to the human body has allowed much to be learned and discovered, such as the body's limits and understanding of how muscles in the body function. For the purposes of performance art, electric body manipulation has created the difficult issue of allowing the human body to become fully-accessible in the realm of computer-generated art to allow for "fully computer-controlled dance and theater performances." The relationship between artist and viewer is once again challenged, and the role of physical computing is explored to allow this relationship to be established through computer-controlled environments.

Week One Experience Documentation

  • Learned the basic ideas behind circuits
    • I learned about basic component names and setups, Ohm's Law, loads and resistors, and basic breadboarding information.
  • Learned about the concept of physical computing
    • I learned that physical computing refers to the ability to create designs digitally that are applicable to the physical world, through computers and other technology.
    • I learned about examples of physical computing, such as the AntiRape Lingerie, The Eyewriter, Beatriz da Costa's Pigeon Blog, the Mic Jammer project, and Touchy.
  • Learned how to make throwies
    • I had to consider where to place my throwies so that they would be seen.
  • Overall, this week was very successful and I did not have any serious issues understanding topics or fulfilling the assignments this week. I learned a lot of interesting information, both about electronics and applicable uses for technology in art.
    • The most unique fact that I learned was that electrons flow in the opposite direction than the current, but after learning about circuits it made sense. 

Conduction and Throwies

          When making the throwies, I placed the LEDs on the batteries and taped the legs with masking tape. Then, I placed a magnet on both sides of the battery and taped around the whole object, leaving the LED light exposed. I chose red and green LED lights.

I placed the first throwie on someone's door. 

I placed the second throwie underneath a table.

          When placing the throwies, I was concerned that someone would see what I was doing and be worried. Thankfully, no one saw. It was an interesting experience trying to figure out where I wanted to place them.