A Preview of “Designing Multiplicity”
Student works from the Parsons MFA Design and Technology Thesis Show
From mobile apps to digital art installations and from video games to electronic toys, the Parsons MFA Design and Technology end-of-year show has always explored the intersection between humans and technology. This year was no different, with projects that included interactive garments, a virtual reality meditation, and an multi-sensory Twitter installation.
We had an opportunity to drop by the show and take a peek at some of the works on display. Below is a selection of some of our favorites. To see them first hand, stop by Demo Day, which runs tonight (May 21, 2015) from 6–9pm. For more information, visit the MFADT website here.
A virtual guide to rebalancing your inner universe
Stephanie Alexandra Rose Burgess
Harmony is a physical installation providing scaffolding for an individual to enter a virtual space for chakra-based meditation.
Adapting Tantric philosophies into an immersive virtual reality experience, the participant can choose an energy center on which to meditate and is guided to activate that center. The device offers a gong bath and subtle visual feedback of the individual’s heart rate, which corresponds with the chakra color. Harmony counters growing fears of mechanization, isolation and disconnect in the digital age by utilizing the medium to provide a space for exploring consciousness, offering an opportunity for the mind, body and spirit to become more harmonious.
IOMAN is a modular toy system that enriches interactive play experiences through character design and physical computing. Players can combine dynamic shapes by creative thinking to build up customized characters with mechanical movements and electronic reactions. IOMAN offers the experience of playing with design and playing with technology.
Theseus is a platform for designing modular electronics instruments for musical and visual composition. Building on the Eurorack an along synthesizer standard, the platform uses 1/8” patch cables to interconnect modules. However, unlike the Eurorack standard, Theseus is entirely digital and produces MIDI/OSC control messages rather than audio signals. This simplification in fidelity greatly reduces the cost of materials and complexity of electronic circuits, making patch cable compositional systems more accessible to artists and musicals. A collection of 14 modules was designed to demonstrate the potential of such a platform. These modules highlight what designs become possible when material expenses drop and prototyping time is shortened.
We live in a world that operates on bits and bytes, a merging of the material and the immaterial. Our configurations of physical objects all have a layer of technology embedded in them, creating a potential for everything to sense, record and communicate. The installation is a materialization of a phenomenon that arises from the unobservable: it is a contemplating of traveling bits in a network of everybody objects, affecting their physicality and questioning their potential. It is a system that bonds the digital and the electrical with the physical and the kinetic in an interactive manifesto for future things.
All in Pieces
“All in Pieces” in an installation, which can grab Tweets from Twitter in real time and project them onto a set of mirror pieces. At the same time, the computer program turns every letter of the Tweets into a sound frequency. The installation creates an immersive environment for audiences to resonate with their daily experience of information fragmentation, which is a social issue caused by the explosion of information on the Internet and the expanding of new media. As a primary information source, social media is gradually but deeply influencing people’s lives with its “short,” “quick” and “inconsistent” characteristics. It is getting more and more difficult to construct or reconstruct meanings from the ocean of scattered information. “All in Pieces” reflects this issue and refines the related daily experience.
My thesis project is a personal artistic from for performance and an experimental interactive wearable garment connected to my brainwaves. The concept concentrates on self-esteem, self-portrait, aesthetic emotions, and human connection. I express my internal feelings and emotions in front of audiences through the garment, which means to reveal my true self instead of myself sealing, faking or hiding behind the technology. Ultimately, I aim to find ways to reach healing moments with spectators through empathetic engagement.
Fall is an interactive garment that mimics nature’s responsive systems through hidden electronic mechanisms. The behavior of the garment is inspired by nature’s seasonal behavior of Defoliation, the process through which trees naturally lose their leaves. The piece reacts to the simulated use of surrounding environmental factors. The objective is not only to augment a garment’s functionality but also to use its qualified technology as an instrument to create an expressive interactive piece.
The purpose of this thesis is to highlight how we interpret meaning through online communication platforms and the consequential reform of human connection and social behavior. Of the most prevalent cause and effects is the opportunity for anonymity and its potential as an enabler of both community and cyber harassment. A chat log from the infamous Gamergate controversy serves as the exemplary case and database for analysis. Text and word emotion analysis were utilized, primarily in conjunction with the Natural Lanugage Toolkit (NLTK) and Hashtag Emotion Lexicon, to create the narrative and performance components. Its performance is composed of preprogrammed digital and live analog music, responsive visualization projections, and an actor — a balance of algorithmic data analysis and inescapable human interpretation.