talking fabrics | final project: networked fabrics

The assignment for the final project was to create a network of fabrics that somehow communicate with each other. Our team (me, Dylan, Lilly and Angie), after bouncing back and forth between ideas for a while, decided on trying to create a simulation that would hopefully allow the participant to feel empathy for a victim of domestic violence. In our ideal finished product, the simulation would require the participant to enter alone into a room, while the other people waiting/looking would be watching from outside of the room. Inside the room there would be two actors: one the abuser and one the victim. The victim would be wearing a vest that contains touch sensors, and the participant would be wearing a vest that has vibration motors. When the victim is hit on a spot where there is a sensor, the participant would feel a vibration from the motor in the corresponding location on their own body. In addition, we would projection map onto the participant, so that as the victim is abused more and more, the projected bruises would grow on their body. While this is happening, the sensors would also cause a tweet to be sent to the a Twitter feed which we would have projected outside of the room with the other people waiting. We wanted to express the dual ways that domestic abuse is experienced: either very intimately, or through the screen of a social media campaign. While we don’t by any means think that social media campaigns against domestic violence are a bad thing, we wanted to express the way in which it removes us from the situation. Liking a tweet isn’t going to stop domestic violence, but human intervention can. That is why we wanted the participant to experience the simulation in a very intimate setting, while projecting the victim’s experiences onto them.

For my part of the project, I created the circuits that connected the sensors and motors to their own Arduino Yuns. At first I connected the two using digital I/O–sending a digital signal out of the pin of one Yun into the pin of another using wires. After I got that working, I moved on to making it wireless. Unfortunately however, I’m new to Arduino and everything about the network of Yuns and sensors and motors was messy and unstable (in both a physical and metaphorical sense). We had many, many, many problems getting the Yuns to go wireless, and every time we fixed one issue it seemed like another would arise. I basically owe my life to Kina, who was our savior in figuring out this Arduino mess. In the end, we ended up having to keep the Yuns plugged into the computer and for some reason literally ground the client Yun by holding it. It was very strange, but in the end I think that the prototype that we came up with got our point across. Some people were very surprised when the first vibration began, which is kind of exactly what we wanted. It was cool to see that some people felt uncomfortable in the vest and with the vibrations, because that was kind of the point. I wish the experience could have been more complete and immersive, but I think that we were pretty ambitious with this concept so I’m happy with the work that we came up with, and it definitely leaves room to continue this idea in the future.

animation | final project: The Portal

For my final animation project, Jamie and I decided to work together on a projection mapped AfterEffects animation. Our idea for this project went through a long series of evolutions, eventually culminating into our desire to create the ability to see into another world. We wanted people watching our animation to feel like they were peeking into a strange, fantastical alternate universe. We originally wanted to project into two small boxes that the viewer would peer into, however we thought that back projecting limited the clarity and color saturation of our animation. We then moved onto projecting into a window frame that we made out of cardboard. After continuing to animate, however, we felt that it would be more appropriate to stage the animation as a portal opening, and thus scrapped the frame.

In terms of the animation itself, Jamie did all of the (amazing and beautiful) drawing with a tablet, and then edited it in Photoshop. We split up the work of animating the individual elements and characters in AfterEffects, and then I compiled those compositions along with the portal sequence into one large composition. We then added the audio and did final edits in Premier.

This is the final version of our animation (except in 720p because WordPress):

solar solutions | backyard project progress


At this point in time, we have all of the phones that we need, as well as the materials to construct the “ribs” structure of the installation. We have sorted the phones out into ones that will light up when plugged in, and ones that will not. For the ones that will not light up, we have dissembled them and removed their screens. In the empty space where the screens were, we will place LEDs which we will power in place of a phone screen.

For Thursday

For Thursday, we will present the network of phones which will go on the rib structure. Since the structure itself will be large and must be made to fit the installation space, we will not present that portion in class. Between now and Thursday, we need to put LEDs into the phones that do not have screens, and solder on their connections. We will decide the layout of the network and how much wire is needed, and then connect all of the components. We also need to create the circuit that will attach our phone network to the main solar panel.


12V battery? Probably? Maybe? We shall test.

User Experience

Users will experience this installation by walking beneath it. The phones will hang from a rib-like structure that is mounted beneath the overhangs that mark the smoking area in the backyard. The phones will be lit up (either by their screens, or in the place where their screens should be), and hung by their connecting wires to the larger network of wire connecting all the phones along the ribs.

Where it will go











It will be attached to the bars along a section of this overhang.


animation | week 9: aftereffects animation

The first step in making my AfterEffects animation was to draw out a story board.









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Mine was about 8 pages worth, which, after I began animating, I quickly realized was much too long to be feasible. I got through about the first 5 boxes of my storyboard and then decided to cut out much of what remained. The basic storyline stayed the same, but I had to change a lot of the middle action to fit what I would actually be able to do well and on time. This was the first time that I had used AfterEffects, so I feel like everything took me a very long time. I could tell that I was not doing things very efficiently, but I didn’t know how to use much of the software so most of my animation was manual manipulation of the puppet pins. I hope that I will continue to learn and get better at using AfterEffects so that I can create more realistic looking movement.

I am mostly happy with how the animation turned out, and I know that my best bet to make more satisfying animations in the future is to keep practicing and learning.

Here is the final draft (for now):


talking fabrics | extrasensory fabric

For this project, the assignment was to create a fabric that senses something that humans cannot. After receiving this assignment, I was talking to a friend about our shared inability to accurately express ourselves to others. Language is our most prominent method of communication, yet it is lacking in its expressive ability. Our thoughts are constructed partially through language, but images and emotions play a large part as well. Nothing that we have created in our minds can be fully communicated to another person (unless science finds a way to make legilimency a thing). So I wanted to translate this idea of having a creation that is unique to our minds into a physical object.

I associated one’s mindspace with the idea of privacy, as it is something that is inaccessible to the outside world. Originally I was going to use a distance sensor to detect “privacy,” but then Antonius told me about a Processing library called OpenCV which has documentation that includes code for face detection. This way, I could sense not only if someone is near the object, but also whether or not they were actually looking at it. So first Antonius taught me how to use Arduino to control a simple circuit that powers a motor. Then I altered this code to be dependent on my Processing sketch where the face detection code was contained. If a face is detected, Processing tells Arduino to stop the circuit; if a face is not detected, Processing turns Arduino on.


After I got the code to work, I began building the actual object. I wanted to suspend a circular knitting machine which, when its handle is cranked, emits a knitted cylinder downward.

circular knitting machine

Not having a circular knitting machine on hand, however, I would have had to order one online and it would not have come in time. So instead I made a proof-of-concept, consisting of a suspended motor/imaginary knitting machine mount, a gear to attach to the handle of the knitting machine, and the code to make it work.

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Face recognition in action:

talking fabrics | touch fabric

For this project, the assignment was to create a fabric that tells a story through the sense of touch. I was originally inspired by the idea of the porcupine, and its dual image. When it is relaxed and comfortable, it looks unassuming–even ~cute~. If, however, it begins to feel threatened in some way, it unleashes its defense mechanism, physically communicating how it is feeling. I thought it would be interesting if humans had this mechanism as well–the ability to communicate emotions through touch.

My original idea was to make a blanket that, when pulled over your head, projects spikes. I prototyped the mechanism for revealing the spikes in a small-scale using needles.

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I wanted to buy giant yarn (actually roving) to make the blanket out of, both for aesthetic purposes and for the fact that I just wouldn’t be able to knit an entire blanket out of regular yarn in a reasonable amount of time. I could not, however, find the yarn that I was looking for, so I started to rethink my idea.

Instead of using this mechanism, I decided to take Antonius’ advice and hide the spikes inside of something filled with batting, then use the mechanism of compressing the object to reveal the spikes. I decided to make a bag that just looks knitted, but also has a strap on the back so that you can push it out in front of you to reveal the spikes.

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I made the spikes out of pieces of wire which i poked through a piece of fabric in regular intervals. I secured the spikes with strips of fusible ironed on to the back, and then one large piece to cover the whole thing and stiffen the back of the bag. After knitting a rectangle, I sewed one side to the fabric that would be the front of the bag. Then I extended the pieces of wire, filled in the spaces with batting, and sewed the rest of the knitting down. After that I sewed on the other half of the bag and added a snap closure and the strap.



solar solutions | midterm: solar pet

For our midterm project, we were supposed to create a “solar pet”–something that uses a mechanism to create some type of movement. For my project, I decided to create a solar friend based off of this drawing that I like: Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 1.02.17 AM

I wanted to make her ears rock a little, so I designed and constructed this mechanism (with help and guidance from Dan).1

Next I edited the motor mount file that Dan provided to us on Tinkercad to create a stand and gear for my motor.

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The bar on the gear that I was using to move the mechanism broke, so I had to hot glue it back on. Then I positioned the motor with the gear in the stand and secured it to the base with wire. Once I attached the motor to the Miller solar engine circuit, the mechanism was finished. It ended up looking like this:

Lastly I made a face out of cardboard to match the drawing, and it was done.

solar solutions | lab 5: freeform circuit

In this lab, we took our solar engine that we made on a breadboard in the previous lab and turned it into a freeform circuit. I began by following the instructions in our textbook, but quickly realized that I had made everything a bit small for my soldering skills. Soldering this together–and getting the pieces to stay in place–while not letting the solder touch the wrong place or letting the wires cross was definitely a challenge. In the end, I ended up with this: 12834615_1118950984792079_673145351_n

I decided that I wanted to house the circuit in something that would hold the motor up, so I constructed a cardboard casing. I also attached a wire and a small fabric flag to the motor so that it would be easier to see its movement.12674228_1118950978125413_1213630133_n

After constructing the case, I thought that the net looked like a jellyfishing net from Spongebob, so I made the device into an Automated Jellyfish Catcher. Unfortunately, something must have gone wrong in my circuit because the solar panel required a lot of light to turn the motor, and then when it did turn it turned continuously instead of moving in small jolts as it was supposed to. This could have been due to either my misconstruction of the circuit when moving off of the breadboard, or my subpar soldering skills. Either way, I got a lot of practice at both circuit construction and soldering.

solar solutions | week 9: backyard project idea

What is it?

A data visualization sculpture that moves based on environmental data.

What does it look like?

I’m not sure exactly what it would look like, but I imagine some variety of this: kinetic sculpture

But instead of a crank, the mechanisms are powered by the sun. I think it would be cool to have it be one large sculpture with different mechanisms with different movements attached. Then each sensor would be attached to its own mechanism, which would move more or less quickly based on the data received by the sensor.

Where should it go?

It would go in the middle of the grassy area. It could go between the skylights, but I think it might block the sun so behind them would probably be better (the red oval-ish area).Backyard-Blueprint edit

Are there any projects similar to yours?

There are definitely projects out there which combine sculpture and atmospheric sensors (like these things), but they are usually kinetic sculptures, and draw directly from the conditions to facilitate their movement. I haven’t seen one yet that is solar powered.

What does it do?

It would have lots of sensors on it to sense different qualities of the environment, such as pollution, humidity, air pressure, temperature, etc. Each of these sensors would control the movement of one particular element of the sculpture.

Is it feasible to accomplish by the end of the semester?

I think it would be, there would just be a lot of mechanisms to figure out. I think it would be nice aesthetically to construct it would of metal and wood, so I guess feasibility would also depend on what kind of tools we have at our disposal to shape those.

Is there enough sun to power it?

I think there would be enough sun to power the sensors at least. If we can make the sculpture out of wire/thin metal and wood, I think we can make it light enough to move using solar power.

talking fabrics | week 6: “The Sound of Summer Running”

Wow. Firstly I’d like to say that the imagery in this story is amazing and completely seamless. I haven’t felt this strongly pulled into a story in a long time. But in regard to the actual content, I felt like this piece did a phenomenal job of relating the concept of touch and touch-memory. I love how, even just by imagining how the shoes would feel, Douglas was reminded of such specific events, as well as scenes that he had not actually experienced. Not only did the shoes take him back to running through fields in the previous summer, he was also transported to an entire other jungle world. But he also explains how the magic of touch can fade. The first time you put on a new shirt, it feels new, and even the things around you can feel different. But as you continue to wear the shirt, it becomes just one of the many pieces of clothing that you own; you get accustomed to it. The novelty of touch is fleeting, but, for those first brief moments, magical nonetheless.