Author: Matthew Couch
Here was the original proposal I had made for my final project for the class.
I went to the fabric market and asked for TPU. I guess I went to the wrong one, because nobody that I asked knew what I was talking about. In the end I showed a Taobao page of some TPU and an old vendor claimed that the plastic he was selling was similar, so I ended up buying like 200 plastic paper holders. What type of plastic it is I don’t know if I’ll ever know. Luckily it seemed to somewhat inflate and hold its shape relatively well.
After purchasing the plastic, I went to a music shop to buy reeds. To my surprise they were much more expensive than I expected (150 for a box) and in the end proved useless, because I was unable to figure out the science behind them. This is where I decided to change up my choice of final project using what I already had made out of the plastic. At this point, I had created this (used some strong tape because no place I looked had the glue I wanted and apparently people on the streets don’t have a random heat sealer laying around).
After making the base “box” of the proposed instrument, I started experimenting with the reeds to see how to get them to produce sound. Having no musical experience apart from a semester-long class of piano, I went to Wikipedia and YouTube to try and figure out how reeds were used to produce sound. After multiple days of testing with different tubes, plastic pipes, etc., I couldn’t get the reeds to produce sound. At all. So I had to come up with a different idea. While blowing up the inflatable box with nothing more than a straw and my breath, I noticed something that would lead me to the idea for the final project.
After blowing it up for a while I noticed that the plastic kept appearing very dirty. This triggered a memory back to the proposed idea in class of a lung that would have the aim of displaying the health hazards with smoking. As a current (and wanting to quit) smoker myself, the box started to look like a box of 10-pack cigarettes that you would usually buy at the duty-free areas at the airport. With the inside getting dirty, my new idea of putting finished cigarettes in came up. I want the box to represent both a lung after smoking as well as the cause of it, a box of tons of cigarettes. Being an inflatable, I had further ideas that work best in a presentation. Blowing cigarette smoke into the inflatable would not only cause it to inflate, but also leave smoke in it that would slowly seep out of the place of inflation. While the smoke may be leaving the body, the effects are still done: the lungs are dirtier, and they slowly deflate to nothing. Smoking doesn’t have an immediate impact on the lungs, but rather a slow and (at least in the beginning) unknown one. It also occurred to me to poor a little water into the inflatable to better display the slow dirtying of it. After the fact I realized this idea was horrible and the smell was unbearable, so in the future there could be a healthier way to depict this idea.
After doing this project I realized that being too ambitious can easily cause problems. First off, I have no knowledge of music. Second, my knowledge of inflatables is also not the greatest. Had I put more thought into it originally I could definitely come out with a better overall final project (rather than somewhat improvising after figuring out my original plan wasn’t going to work).