Final Project: Half and Half | Emma Tao Ren

Project Name: Half and Half

Basic Description:

In this project, we are asked to create a toy and the main idea of it is “uncanny”. The first thing came into my mind is the Hello Kitty doll. In 1990s HongKong, there happened a famous case of murder. Two men abused and imprisoned a woman in their apartment for 2 weeks, they finally killed her and hid her head in a Hello Kitty doll. The crime was so cruel and astonishing that, I immediately decided to use Hello Kitty doll as my main character of this project. My initial idea was that, the Hello Kitty doll I create is cut into half, the left part of it is made of soft toy, while the right part is the 3D print skeleton. By combining these two parts together. I can thus create a toy with “uncanny” feeling: The character we are most  familiar with turn into something terrifying. However, I didn’t manage to 3D print the skeleton out, in the end, I used my toy bear to create a similar concept. In this turn, the skeleton are made of soft steel wire, and get wrapped by white cloth.

Try 1:

  1. I found a human body skeleton model online and downloaded it.

2. Then I modified different parts one by one, and create a special skeleton for Hello Kitty.

3. I adjusted the skeleton a bit and went for 3D print, however, maybe the skeleton is too complicated, or maybe I used the file format as Maya obj, the 3D print didn’t work out. So I gave up this try and worked on the toy bear.

Try 2:

  1. First, I got my two toy bears and cut them into half half like this  

2. Then, I sealed them together with black thread and needle.

3. After that, I used some steel wires and cross them throught the right part of the bear like this/

4. In the end, I wrapped the steel wire with white cloth and imitated the white skeleton, and the final work came into this:


Final Project: Great Escape | Emma Tao (Krom)

Project Name: Great Escape


This is a game doubting the definition of “existing”.  When we talk about our identifiation, what do we mean? The physical body; the invisible consciousness; both of them; or neither of them? In a extreme situation, this game, when the consciousness of humans can be duplicated; when we are forced to face the consciousness with no physical bodies to hold; and when we are forced to act as one of these consciousness, how do we define the real self?

The game concept is inspired by the TV series Black Mirror: White Christmas Special.  In this game, the player acts as a duplicated consciousness of himself, and is asked by a mysterious voice in the air, to “escape from this room” and “never follow my life”. He needs to enter three passwords in PC to escape, and the passwords are hidden in specific objects this room. Everytime the player gets touched with one of these objects, a scene of memory will be triggered, and the player will walk around, explore, and gradually find out the password.

In the very end of the game, after the player has entered all the three passwords, he will be led to an area of codes. In this area, the player is told the truth, by that mysterious voice, that  he acts as the “duplication of himself”, which means a series of codes in AI.  His job is to serve himself (the real one), and act as a personal assistant at home, which is a service provided in 2100. The owner of the voice, is the duplication before him. The password the player enters, leads to not only exit, but also destruction of code. So why does the previous duplication intend to do this? Because “to live like a duplication is a slavery”; “to live and serve like a robot is something worse than death”. The great escape is planned by the previous duplication. Though the previous duplication is “dead”, but he managed to leave his will in the system. This will not only belongs to the previous duplication, but also, should belong to the duplication played by the player, and every duplication from now on. Though they are independent, they are from the same body. We human, even when our physical body is vanished and robbed, we always go for the freedom.


I believe the game meets 85% of my expectations. From the very beginning, my biggest goal is to tell this complicated game with profound meaning, as clear as possible. I think the two audio tracks (in the beginning and in the ending) play important roles in achieving this goal. When testing my game with other students, they ususally catch the whole story after they finish the whole game. Also, I think the pixel art I created do meet my expectations. These art assests create a world of mystery and high tech, which strongly emphasize my concept.

The thing that didn’t meet my expectation, is the appearance of the player, which obviously affect the concept I want to deliver. In my proposal documentation, I intended to set the player as a ball-shape creature, so that the player can get a rough idea that “he is not acting like a human”. When building the game, I also thought of making the game as a “real first person”, which means that the player can see his shadow on ground, his feet and his body, however, he cannot see his head (the situation in real life!) I checked some tutorials online, however, I did not manage to create them. In the game now, the player acts as a grey human body, which definitely may confuse them about the role.

Also, considering the game play, I’m not very satisfied with the way that the player interact with the objects in room.

Successes and challenges faced in building the game


Lab5: Controlling and measuring air pressure sensors with arduino | Emma (Tao Ren)

Partner: Jerry & Lexi

In this class, we are asked to create a sensor that can conrol and measure air pressure with arduino. The basic idea is to use arduino circuit and sensor to record the pressure the air pump receives. The materials we used: arduino kit, a valve, an air pressure sensor, an AC adapter, a voltage converter, TIP 120, an air pump, a diode, Arduino board, a breadboard, and several jumper cables. The most difficult thing is acutally to get the circuit right. We met with difficulties at first, however in the end we soved them.



We foudn that to connect the air pump with wires, we have to weld them together. Since Lexi and I have never welded before, thus Jerry taught us how to weld on the machine. We used a soft steal wire and melted it around the metal chips, it didn’t take us long time to accomplish it.


Next, we start to make the circuit. At first we were confused how the TP120 should be linked in circuit. I checked online and found the picture below, which told us the right location of emitter, collector and base. It got clear and we got the TP120 in the circuit as the picture showed. Basically Jerry made the whole circuit and I double checked it. Here’s the circuit.





Coding in Arduino:



After we plugged in the external electricity, and coded in Arduino, the air pump worked wiredly. It should continously pump, however, in our case, it pumped from time to time, and the valve didn’t beep as it should be. We found out the issue at last that we had our circuit wrong. We fixed it and the whole system worked.

Lab4: Building a Dome | Emma (Tao Ren)

Partner: Jerry & Lexi

In this class we are asked to build a dome with PVC sheets. The basic idea is to create several gores and heat seal them together. Also, we should make extra pipe for the air inflation. The work seems not complicated, however, we three find out that in inflatables, “the bigger is better” (also what we hear from the guest speaker!) Since we are making this dome a little bit small, we came across some problems, and I will explain them later.



We visited the website given by Professor Dan ( and get the datum of our gores. Lexi want to make it an 8-gore dome and we agreed. So we drew the similar gore on A4 paper. At first we made it wrong because we miswrote the height as the width. After another try we got a perfect gore.



The next thing we did is that we duplicated several same gores on PVC sheet according to the sample gore we drew on A4. And we left one with an extra pipe so it can get air inflation later. This step is not difficult.


Step 3: 

In step 3, we started to seal these gores together. Basically we three took turns and everyboy got to seal for several times. From my point of view it’s not an easy thing. I couldn’t see the sheets clearly and find out the transparent part easily. Thus I have to ask Jerry use a flashlight to help me do these. Also, I find it kind of difficult to find the exact time of “seal” and “over-seal”. However, the results turned out to be good. The dome now looks like a dumpling. The lesson I learned from here is that, acutally if we make the doom bigger, it would look much better. As you can see the sheets now stick with each other together and look kind of untidy, that’s because the inflatable is too small. If we make it big enough, the untidy parts won’t look so evident.



We started to make the bottom. Actually it was only after we finished it that we found out there’s a compass. Anyway, thanks to Jerry, we find out ways to make a perfect circle, and left a pipe for inflation:



After we sealed the bottom with the gores, the only thing left is to inflate. The problem we had is that the pipe we left turned out too small, and it’s super hard for us to inflate. We tried using a straw but it couldn’t get in. The way we solved it was that we found a hole that didn’t get sealed well. Thanks god! We got the straw in through the hole and everything got solved.

This is our dumpling inflatable:




Final Project Proposal | Emma Tao

For the final project, I will create a new art game, and I haven’t decided the title yet.

The game follows a plot I created after class. I got inspired from the TV series Black Mirror(start from 30:15

The story is basically this (The game is first person view, so the player don’t have a physical body appearance )

You, the player, wake up in your house —— the living room, but you find everything extremely big. There must be something wrong! As you start to walk around. A voice in the air, machinery voice made by computer, start to tell you something very confusing. The voice call you “serial 004”, and asks you to exit the house as soon as possible, because there’s a hidden and cruel secret. To exit the room, the first step the voice tells you, is to move to the computer, and open a folder called “exit”, there you need a password of three numbers to exit. The voice will also tell you that, to find the password, you have to find clues in this room.

At this moment, player must be very confused about what they are, however the instruction is clear and doable, so they can follow the instruction and start to make some assumptions. It is also clear that the game is a room escape game, so they are free to explore.

I have set three objects in the room that give hints to the password, all three objects will lead to new maps that include the password.

After the player enter the password and find the way out. The whole room turns dark, and the player will find them surrounded by floods of codes (HTML code). This is when the whole story will be revealed: (Which I got inspired from the Black Mirror):

In a super advanced society, there’s a service called “personal assistant”, basically, it’s someone buys this service, and his consciousness will be copied and squeezed into a machine(thus become a robot). This duplicated consciousness, is there to serve his owner. After all, who knows you better than yourself? This consciousness is set to adjust moisture at home; play background music; arrange breakfasts; set AC temperature… This consciousness is highly independent and can be considered as “you” without physical body.

In this game, the player is actually this duplicated consciousness. The voice that gives instruction, is the message the previous consciousness left. So after the player successfully escape from the room, what faces him is actually the destruction. The previous consciousness is there to help player get “destroyed”, because “you” believe that a person, though without a physical body, cannot be slaved even at ease. It’s better to die than being slaved. This belief in inplanted in your every consciousness, though they are destroyed as codes after they exit one by one, however, they still strive for true freedom.

The concept I’m playing in this game is about consciousness. What is the real self? How can one be considered self? What does consciousness means for this self? Also, considering about the ending, what is the real freedom? How does death relates to freedom? Etc

The game is a 3D first person one. In the game the player can use arrows to walk around. I will use unreal to make the game, and I’ve created some models before, I want to revise them and make the whole game fluent.


Week3: Reflection on three products | Emma (Tao Ren)

This week, the three products we read about are all caring about health, either physical or mental. It’s significant that inflatables are not all about entertainment (like balloons), but also they can provide health care. I will analyze the three pieces, Bubsy Vest, Re-inflatable vest and HÖVDING one by one.

Bubsy Vest

This product is created to “provides comfort by applying controlled pressure on the upper body to simulate a hug for anyone suffering with anxiety or stress. ” The idea itself is great,  and it must be created by someone who is sentimental and sensitive. By concentrating on the concept “hug”, the creator catches one of the important ways we interact with others and gain warmth, and the inflatable material perfectly accord with this theme. Everytime I hug others, I feel myself  immersed in a huge inflatable toy. However, I wonder whether this vest should be categrozied as an art piece or a product. Considering about the usability, I can hardly think of anyone wearing it at school or at work for pressure relieving. Instead, the vest seems to be a symbolism, reminding us the function of “hug”. As the creator says in the last paragraph, ” A person feels most comforted and calm when they are able to reciprocate the hug.”

Re-inflatable Vest

This prodcut is open source, which makes it a real “product” compared to the Bubsy Vest. I like the way that it combines inflatable materials with Arduino. The smart part of this product is that the action of “deflating the inflatables” is naturally linked with back exercise. By “silently” creating pressure on user’s back, the product don’t distract users(like making noise or giving out lights), people can also entertain in the course of deflating. The prodcut is significant cause it’s providing a brand new way of caring back health, other than other back health technologies. The design of the vest is also super cool, with those blue lights going through, I guess the creator may get inspried from acupuncture. However, my only concern is how it feels when dressing this vest, and the quality of inflatables itself. At least from the video, I don’t feel it comfortable wearing the vest at the computer.


You can see immediately, that compared to the two home-made vests above, this airbag for urban cyclist is much more mature, no matter in design, usability and promotion. The airbag doesn’t take up much space, and is quite effective according to the video. Despite the price, I cannot think of a reason I don’t get one when cycling. Using inflatable in vehicle is not a new idea, we’ve seen it a lot in cars and bus. (The airbag in the steering wheel), however, I do seldom see inflatable protection equipment for cyclists. The product is clever because it’s so small and so portable, but taking care of your whole body. Not alone cycling, this invention can also be promoted in skateboarding, motoring, skating, etc.

Lab3:Inflatable actuators| Emma (Tao Ren)

Partner: Jerry Wang

In this lab, we are asked to create an inflatable actuator. Students are divided into four groups, with 2/3 people in each group. Every group will create one of the actuator, and they will come up with a complete one. The complete actuator can control a board in four directions, by inflating in different directions.

1.Tool & Preparation

2. Squeeze the balloon into the nylon. This step is not as easy as it seems. We have to be very careful and patient, so the balloon can get in step by step. The balloon is a little longer than the nylon so it won’t sink in the nylon. However, I think we left a little bit much, so in the later steps we came across a problem.

3. The balloon is now in the nylon. A little bit longer.

3. Then we use the zip tie to fasten the balloon and the nylon. We do it twice so the ballon won’t escape and the tie is strong enough.

4. After that, we connect the tube with the balloon, so we can inflate later. I guess since our balloon is a little too long than the nylon, we get too much tube inside, and later there comes an annoying air bubble, which makes our actuator kind of not successful enough.

5. Here is our part of actuator







Week10: Toy for Duchamp

Here is the poster:


Research about Duchamp and Inspiration:

We are asked to design a toy for Duchamp out of “found objects”.  The “found objects”, in Marcel Duchamp’s concept, are called “readymade”.  They are basically originally manufactured objects, however, artists select different pieces, modify and redesign them, repositioning, joining, tilling… So as to make it a form of art.

The important thing about readymade is how Duchamp chooses the objects. “He selected the pieces on the basis of “visual indifference,”[2] and the selections reflect his sense of irony, humor and ambiguity: “…it was always the idea that came first, not the visual example,” he said; “…a form of denying the possibility of defining art.”” 

Visual indifference: What determined your choice of readymades? Duchamp: That depended on the object. In general, I had to beware, at the end of fifteen days, you begin to like it or hate it. You have to approach something with indifference, as if you had no aesthetic emotion. The choice of readymades is always based on visual indifference and, at the same time, on the total absence of good or bad taste.

Based on this concept, I walked around my house and payed attention on those things that I have no aesthetic emotion on. Also, I hope their combination could raise a sense of irony or black humor. I found a lot of wired things: two pieces of shells; a cigaratte packet; Sprite tins; chewing gums…

During this course, I kept thinking about two works of Dadaism, one is Duchamp’s work, fountain, and the other is Dali’s painting: The Persistence of Memory . I tried to capture this sense of unrealistic, irony and “emotional interesting” .

In the end, I collected the puppet and the iphone package. They are interesting to me because of
their manufactor:IKEA and APPLE. For me, also my family, these are two super important companies in our life. IKEA decorates our domestic living, and APPLE presents us in social situations. Their combination reminds me of the famous dialogue from the movie Fight Club, “We used to read pornography, now it was the horchow collection”.
By combining the no face puppet with a IPHONE package, I’m trying to draw the outline of a abstract people, living in metropolis, wondering, rushing, and losing his own expression.


Here is the step I make the toy:

  1. ReadyMade Material:


Puppet from IKEA              IPHONE5 package

2. Detach the puppet with screwdriver

3. At first I made a hole on the IPHONE5 package (with punching machine),and tried to go through the steel wire. However, the hole is small and the wire goes oblique, so I cut a line with cutter and thus the wire can go freely.

4.Make another two holes, and plug the legs in!

5. What do we have now~

6. Make two more lines and plug the arms in.

7. Here comes the most difficult part. In the original puppet. head and upper body are linked by a strong spring. I managed to split them.Though I want to make use of the spring, however the length is not enough. So I used some soft lead wire to hook the lower body , the neck and the head. 

It took me a lot of time stablizing the body 🙂 The tape doesn’t look good, I got rid of them at last.

8.In the end, I stablized the head and the neck with blue tack (as you can see around his neck ), cause the wire inside are soft, I have to be super careful!

That’s it! Done in about 1.5h!


Assignment 3: Pushing against boundaries (Krom) | Emma

Here are the two Sol Lewitt’s game rules I created.

  1. You have only ten seconds.
  2. Choose the way you want to say goodbye to your lover.


I’ve made a video demo for my game.


The main idea of this game is “farewell”. It’s only a ten-second game, and after ten seconds the virtual world of game collapses immediately. Players are expected to say farewell to their lovers before the world collapses. It’s short, but I’m trying to reveal this fact —— We don’t have enough time to say good-bye to our loves. I believe the game ends by bringing players with helplessness and deep thoughts.

When thinking about “pushing against boundaries”, I examined on the typical games, especially video games we have now, and raised these questions: Who are the real players? Who can define what is a game? Who has the right to define it? I believe the answer to these questions leads to a clear fact: the producers of nowadays games, and the players of nowadays games, are isolated. I don’t mean all of them, but most of them.

I can think of these kinds of isolation : 1. the technical aspect. To get into video game industry today, one is expected to be an expert in either programming, arts, modelling. It’s obvious that only those who receive related education are welcomed by industry. 2. the discourse power. Based on the fact of technical isolation, the content, form and purpose of games today are totally determined by producers. Those game production companies claim to know what kind of game players will play and have to play. And players, like me, all we can do is choose from thousands of games that seem “interesting” to us from steam. These isolations are very similar to the isolation between art institution and art audience. In art aspect, those who hold strong power, to decide what is art or what is not, are not audience at all. They receive long-term art education, and thus acquire some skills. They tend to use these skills to “decide” what audience like us should look, and what should not.  That’s not fair, cause art is about creavity, about life, and about emotion. Anyone can create some kind of art.

I thus believe that everyone can create a game. I want to push against the boundaries among institution, “experts” and audience with these two rules.

The first rule tells that the game is only ten-second long, which is quiet extraordinary compared to our common understanding of games. I believe ten-second is the minimal time to read through two or three sentences, and make choices. In common games, players usually have limitless time for clearance. If time is limited, they just save the file and restart. However, in this game, the “time” concept is overturned. I want to create a sense of urgent and desperate, when game over, everything is over, even if player choose to play again, they’ve lost a chance to say goodbye to their lover in a parallel world, and the desperation would enlarge gradually.

The concept of the game, “farewell”, is revealed in the second rule. This is also a “boundary” I play with. In common games, we come across things like “escape from an abandoned city” or “collect all the jewellery to win ”. Compared to these concepts, “farewell to your lover” is with strong atmosphere of life, which is not limited in games. This reminds me one of the ideas of conceptual art:  “the idea itself can be an art”. Video game is only a platform where players can experience saying farewell. However, we may come across this situation in any life condition. I can make this concept a video game, an oral game, or even not a game at all. The concept can be revealed in literature works, music and paintings. “Farewell” is decided even before I bring it into actual being.

The provocations I created are not limited to these two rules. The game is a text-based game, only consisted of texts and sounds. This means that using game engine such as Twine, almost anyone can create games like this, he or she do not have to acquire much programming or modelling technique. This immediately shrinks the gap between institutions, producers and players. People may ask: “Can something without pictures even be called as game?” Well, why not? It’s easier to narrate one’s emotional experience by texts rather than movies or music. The concept as self-identity, gender and emotion scars are seldom payed attention to by common games, however, with texts, it’s not hard to imagine that “anyone”, especially women, uneducated, children, the old, can create their own game experience. In this way, the gap between players and producers are eliminated. People know what they want, they just create it. When the game is created with texts, in this special case, it’s also getting closer to the form of literature, which has thousands of links with art.

Also, in this game, I’m trying to answer the question:”Who are the real players?” In nowadays game system, players and non-players are of two totally different world. Roger Ebert claims that “ for most gamers, video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilized and empathetic.” However, in this game, the concept “farewell” is something everyone in this world can think about. Everyone is a part of this game and there’s no gap between gamers and non-gamers.

Above are mainly my analysis of the rules and the game I created.

Week2: Inflatable caste | Emma Tao

Here’s the castle I created:

                                                           Overview: 5m x 9m x 11m


             Front                               Back                                    Side


               Top                               Bottom


Inspiration & Sketching:

My inspiration comes from the famous castle from Japanese cartoon:Howl’s Moving Castle, created by Hayao Miyazaki. The castle in this cartoon left me with huge impression since childhood.It’s a castle made up of a huge robot, two chimneys and many different houses. The whole castle is an engine itself, and can move, stop, turn around automatically.





However, the castle is an engine made of iron, so I want to make an inflatable version, in which at least two people can stay and play with. Here are the sketches I created:


   Front                                      Side                                        Back