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Archive for December, 2008

THE YAWN: Final version for ICM, with many things to improve in the future

December 23, 2008 By: Asli Category: Computational Media

I should wrap up what I’ve achieved with THE YAWN project before I make more progress on it, now that we are done with our ICM class. I say before I make more progress on it, because I definitely want to keep working on the project until the program is in nearly excellent condition, even if it’s not written in Processing. Our ICM research assistant Jeremy likes my project and says he’ll be happy to help me should I choose to work on it more next semester and that’s encouraging me!

I showed the final version of the project during our last class. I didn’t have much time to introduce and talk about my project in detail though. It’s mostly my fault, one because I was a little nervous, two because I didn’t take the initiative to take my time in presenting my project. I wish I had more time and/or I were more organized with the time I had.

So, the final version of my program can:

1. Show a prerecorded yawn video in loop in a separate processing sketch.

2. Detect a yawn. (not so accurately though)

3. When it detects a yawn, starts recording.

4. Records for 8 seconds and saves it as a new movie.

5. The movies are saved in the data folder of the first processing sketch playing videos in loop.

6. The viewer needs to wear a ridiculous apparatus made of white board to clear out the background images.

After I presented my project in class, I saw some problems that I wanted to fix right away. Why didn’t I think of using background removal?! Why wasn’t I able to incorporate face detection to the code, even though I had tried it? Why was it so hard to pull out random videos that were added to the first processing sketch’s data folder?

Immediately, I tried the background removal code that Shiffman has on his Learning Processing book, but it wasn’t as accurate and it didn’t look clean. Maybe there are more complex codes out there that deal with background removal? I have to research more.

Then I searched a whole lot of forums on how to play QuickTime videos at a random from the data folder. To my surprise, I found out that Processing’s video library isn’t at all that great at dealing with playing and recording videos! Many contributors say that the memory gets used up very fast and I also experienced the same problem. Maybe there are better tools for THE YAWN project and I should look into them as well.

This was by far my favorite project of my first semester at ITP and I learned so much during the process. I hope I’ll get to make a much better version of it next semester and be able to share it with more people and collect lots of more yawns! Before I go, here is a video of Michelle yawning during my final presentation.

THE YAWN: Michelle yawning from Asli Sevinc on Vimeo.

ITP Winter Show starts today!

December 17, 2008 By: Asli Category: Telecommunicating

At the end of each semester, a collection of ITP projects are showcased to the public for two days. This year, the Winter Show is taking place from 5pm to 9pm on Wednesday 17th and Thursday 18th.

Art-techies, technology enthusiasts or anyone curious to see what ITP is all about should come out and play with all the wonderful projects created here this semester!

The official invite is here.

Final Project: Servo Motor & IR Sensor

December 10, 2008 By: Asli Category: Physical Computing

I got my IR sensor that has a range of values form 0 to 600 and began working on my code and circuit. I’m using the IR sensor as the analog input and the servo motor as the analog output. First of all, I managed to read the values from the IR sensor and used it to light an LED.

Final Project: IR Sensor & LED from Asli Sevinc on Vimeo.

Then I got the IR sensor to move the servo motor:


Final Project: IR Sensor & Servo motor from Asli Sevinc on Vimeo.

After that, I went to the shop and cut a piece of wood that I could attach to the servo motor, in place of the mirrors I’m going to get soon. The servo was powerful enough to carry and rotate the wooden plaque, but will it be strong enough to carry the mirrors?


Final Project: IR Sensor & Servo motor & Wood panel from Asli Sevinc on Vimeo.

Next step will be to buy mirrors, come up with a better mechanism and build it. But I’m so inexperienced with building things that I don’t even know where to get mirrors or wood, let alone start building something! I need to ask around a little bit on the floor this week.

THE YAWN: Checklist

December 10, 2008 By: Asli Category: Computational Media

  1. Play video in loop. check!
  2. Start recording video when blob is detected. check!
  3. Record for 10 seconds. check!
  4. Save videos in an ArrayList. check! [Thanks to Lee Jay!]
  5. Pull videos from the array of videos to play in loop.
  6. Yawning sounds.
  7. White box with hole.

Final Project: The Idea

December 08, 2008 By: Asli Category: Physical Computing

After I presented my final project idea in class, Nahana recommended that I take a look at the works of artist Jim Campbell. She thought that his series of installations called Memory Works could give me some inspiration for my final project. I visited Campbell’s website after class and it was indeed very inspiring!

In his artist statement, Campbell describes his Memory Works as: The Memory Works (1994-1998) are a series in which each work is based upon a digitally recorded memory of an event. Some of these electronic records represent a personal memory and others represent a collective memory. These electronic memories are manipulated and then used to transform an associated object mounted on the wall. Avoiding the usual notions of what a memory is, none of the original memories is an image or a sound. These works explore the characteristic of hiddenness common to both human and computer memory. Memories are hidden and have to be transformed to be represented.”

I especially liked his Cyclical Meter and Cyclical Counter pieces from the series. For each of them, Campbell takes an old wall clock and connects an input that moves the clock’s second hand at the rate of a memory. One memory input is the “breathing”, the other is the “blinking” of a person recorded over a period of an hour. The way Campbell made his digital memories tangible and physically representative reinforced my idea that my final piece should represent a memory, but not necessarily communicate it directly. I’m thinking I should also follow a similar path as he did: focus on one single memory, rather than making a collage of various memories; which I sketched as an installation here, which turned out to be a big, horrible mess:

Installation sketch #1

While I was moving away from the idea of a collage and not knowing how to really approach it, I came across a radio show on WNYC on memory, totally by chance. I couldn’t find the podcast of the show, but they essentially talked about the relationship between emotion and memory. The question that resonated with me the most was: How does emotion modify our ability to remember and forget? The answer is, emotion is tightly related to memory and emotions do trigger certain memories in a certain way.

This got me into thinking that maybe, I should look at a specific memory that I associate a certain emotion with. Especially a moment/memory that I remember myself as being happy and playful.

After some memory digging, picking out and doing sketches on a few of them (listening to the story of my great-grandmother who saw the prophet, talking to my grand aunt who became a beggar, playing dodgeball in the backyard with my “neighborhood friends”, writing my favorite poems and making illustrations for them after I learned how to read and write), I remembered this one game I used to play on my own when I was a kid and enjoying myself beyond explanation.

In my grandmother’s old apartment, there was a bathroom. In the bathroom, there were mirrors placed in a way that duplicated my reflection. So, when I was standing at a certain point, it would cut my face in half and reflect one half so that both halves would be the same. I don’t know if I could explain it well… But I would play with my reflection in that specific spot for hours without ever getting bored! I remember laughing so hard, making new creatures and animating them in my own way…

When I discovered that there was the same effect in Apple’s Photo Booth 2 years ago, I was so excited. Here are two pictures of me playing with it:

So I decided that for my final project on memory, I want to recreate those mirrors and invite people to play with their reflections. As I remember it, and my memory can be very decieving, there were 3 mirrors, placed perpendicular to each other like in the letter Z. I want to exploit the reflections by moving the two arms of the mirror with a servo motor and use an IR sensor to trigger the movement and some audio samples that I are meaningful to me, and hopefully recognizable to the viewer. I will have to make a serial connection between the Arduino and Processing using the minim library, where I will store an array of sounds, which will then be randomly triggered by the changing values of the IR sensor. In other words, when there is someone close to the mirrors, a sound sample will be played. Sounds will encourage the audience to come closer to the mirrors and to play with their own reflections like I did when I was a kid, which is only possible when you are close enough to the mirrors.

I don’t know, is it all too simple? It is challenging to me since I never used an IR sensor (and I heard they are tricky to work with) and I never did a sound project using audio editing program and the minim library in Processing, but still… I’ll keep posting my progress as I move along.

PS: Buy mirrors, an IR sensor, and an extra servo motor!

THE YAWN: Detecting and recording!

December 04, 2008 By: Asli Category: Computational Media

YES! IT WORKS!

Ok, not the whole thing, but my code detects the yawn and records it as a movie file!

I’m so excited I don’t know what to do with myself!

Oh I know, I’ll go get coffee from Think and keep working…