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Polyangylene: Interaction Design

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Lauren Fenton

on 11 May 2013

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Transcript of Polyangylene: Interaction Design

POLYANGYLENE The Neon Hexapods Are autonomous six-legged robots that display words etched in glowing electroluminescent wire and mounted inside their inflatable bubble "heads". Each bot can display 2 different words. Transformations The words in the hexapods are tags that trigger different transformations in the the projection mapping of the found objects. Each tag evokes an alter-object, an imaginary transformation of an ordinary or trivial household item. Call Out the Hexapods To get a hexapod's attention, the visitor must call the one or ones she wants to meet. A hexapod will follow a visitor who calls them by their tag-name. For example, the visitor is curious about two hexapods, one displaying the word "fable", the other, "undone". If she calls out "fable undone", the called hexapod will acknowledge her summons with individualized bleeps. The Fish are equipped with voice recognition software called Voce compatible with Processing that recognizes the tag-words that belong to them. As soon as the words are called, the hexapod sends a signal to the central computer program via Xbee radio and animated transformations associated with both "fable" and "undone" are projected onto the sculpture of found objects. If the visitor had called "fable", only the fable transformation would have been triggered.

The Bot Words are transformation commands that bring new animated stories into existence out of the physical remains of an actual place. Once the visitor has called a hexapod it will gurgle and bleep until she has called out the name of another bot and initiated another Transformation. Hexapods walk around autonomously, fleeting around the sculpture of found objects.
They detect obstacles with ultrasonic sensors on their front and back. ...of found objects from the city, painted white.

Using the VJ technique of projection mapping, these objects are transformed into surreal objects that are fluid, protean, alive: SuperObjects. In the installation, the found objects function as metonymies of the imaginary spaces and objects that are projected onto them. 8 Transformations Each word-tag displayed by the bots initiates a Transformation of the sculpture of found objects. Transformations are visuals that metamorphose inert objects into imaginative spaces. They can be called "narrative effects" - by producing specific spatial illusions they each tell a different story about the object/the city.

They are 4 bots and each bot can display 2 words. There are therefore 8 Transformations. word-tags nouns verbs adjectives conjunctions between viscous, empty undone, drifting
glow, extrude, empty fable, glow Transformation Verses Extrude Empty
Glow Between Viscous Drifting
Fable Undone... These verses are enactive.
The collaborative human-robotic performance of the poetry physically transforms the space. The word-tags are all expressions of Transformations - material, spatial, metaphorical A Fable is a temporal transformation, a duration with multiple accelerations and decelerations. It is also a spatial transformation that spins multiple locales. As Propp's "Morphology of the Folktale" indicates, it is also a remix-machine for mythic leitmotives. Glow is a transformation of the inert material into the animated and significant. It can be charming, beatific, uncanny, or mysterious. But it always draws attention to itself. Undone is the transformation of a state of tension into a state of relaxation, like a knot unloosed. It is a temporal reversion to a mythical blank slate or void - as in the impossible "to undo a mistake". It connotes of disintegration, dissolution, freedom and hope. Drifting is a passive transformation of distance. Drifting objects grow closer or further from one another under no power of their own. The drifter subsumes her subjectivity in a passion for space (see Benjamin, Situationism). On the other hand, to drift can mean to accidentally find oneself (as in drifting away from a group). Extrude is a transformation of surface. To extrude is to positively distort a surface. More fundamentally, it is the migration of the surface into unoccupied space. This migration can be trivial and temporary, like a paper clip extruding from its box or long-standing and massive, like a building. Empty is a transformation of substance. To empty something is to discard the substance/contents so that only the surface/container remains. Emptiness is the migration of space into previously occupied surface. Viscous describes the transformation between solid and liquid. It is an indefinite and uncanny state. Viscous matter seems strangely alive in its refusal to stay in one shape. It is also sticky. An alien substance that cloys to us, it invokes the fascination of contamination. Between is the waiting for a transformation to take place. These transformations do not only take the shape of visualizations mapped onto the sculpture...they are expressed in the form of micro-stories/vignettes about the found objects, told from the objects' point of view - as fields or ribbons of text composited into the animations. They are also equipped with 6 infrared receivers and transmitters at 60 degree intervals around their chassis that allow them to detect the presence and direction of their fellow hexapods. Human visitors will have bracelets equipped with an IR sensor as well, allowing them to be read as bots by the hexapods.

Each hexapod has a set of rules that they follow that diverge from the others' - for example, one hexapod will reverse its walk if it detects another hexapod coming from its left side, while another will continue moving in that direction. Over time, these behaviors constitute patterns that determine each bot's "personality". When the hexapods encounter a situation which they are all programmed to respond to in the same way - for example, after operating for 30 min, break into a dance routine - then they appear to behave synchronically, like a herd. An installation... As an artificial “creature” and a form of media, a program and a sensate body, the robot exemplifies the poetic capacity, in Salter’s words, to “express things through material transformations that do things to the world” (Chris Salter).

Working within the innovating tradition of computational situated art, Polyangylene explores the robot as a creative device capable of generating novel emotional and imaginative states in the human participants by troubling the ontological hierarchy between human and non-human agents. The digital layering of animations onto the found objects that compose the sculpture brings to light the expressive semiotic relationships between the objects and their capacity to create imaginative “social” spaces, while the interactive robotic components coax the audience into poetically conversing with this “community of things” whom they are already intimately involved with in their day-to-day lives.

As such, Polyangylene is an embodied mapping of the fluid status of everyday objects that attempts to render reality from an object-centric point of view, challenging both the art gallery/museum’s perspective of detached contemplation of the object and the reductive understanding of technology as tool. hexapod 1 hexapod 2 hexapod 3 hexapod 4
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