IxD and Assistive Technology at UNSW Art & Design

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Study 01n

Study 01n

After almost 3 years of research, I have finally completed the first observational study in the Interactive Multi-Sensory Environment (IMSE) I have constructed. I’ve settled on the IMSE nomenclature to differentiate the space from a history of passive Multi-Sensory Environments (MSEs), like the Snoezelen room. Without […]

SIGGRAPH Asia 2014

SIGGRAPH Asia 2014

Having just returned from participating in my first international conference yesterday, I thought I would post a few thoughts on SIGGRAPH Asia 2014 and my short trip to Shenzhen, China… My paper was accepted as part of the workshop titled, Designing Tools For Crafting Interactive Artifacts, and […]

Fiducial Box Test

Fiducial Box Test

I had one of the greatest wins of my lifetime arrive this week in the form of a successful HREC application. Now that this giant hurdle is out of the way, I finally get to focus on putting together the observational studies that form the centrepiece of […]

selfRegulatingSystem_v03

selfRegulatingSystem_v03

A sticking point for my PhD research thus far has been how to identify when children with ASD are expressing an intention through interaction with the environment that I have designed (if they are at all). An area that is proving useful for this problem is […]

Experiencing Environments (2014)

Experiencing Environments (2014)

Recently, I was kindly asked to participate in the first UNSW Art & Design (previously known as COFA) in the new UNSW Galleries on campus. This student exhibition, titled Mighty Healthy, explores Design work that addresses health and therapeutic issues, and takes in a wide […]

Doming Along

Doming Along

It’s a good time for me to do a quick technical update on the dome build, now that I have some (temporary) space to fully setup and test the structure. Finally, I’ve been able to layout all 15 lighting heads (RGB par 36’s) and connect them […]

Designing for Experience

Designing for Experience

For just about anyone working on a PhD (at least outside Science), the core of your research is a moving target. The ever-shifting ‘research question’ is frustratingly elusive, and despite beginning the process with what you feel is a pretty clear field of study in […]

Dorkbot at COFA

Dorkbot at COFA

As part of a push to have more people doing interesting and way cool stuff at COFA, Dorkbot will be kicking off the 2014 season of ‘people doing strange things with electricity’ next week. If you’re not familiar with Dorkbot, it’s a worldwide memetic event, […]

Dome Tent Build

Dome Tent Build

Throughout 2014 I will be carrying out the observational study side of my PhD research (finally, thank goodness). The first stage of this will be conducted inside an interactive dome tent, much like you’d see used for camping (the tent part, not the interactivity). Without […]

Discipline(s)

Discipline(s)

Recently I was given a bit of a hiding at my PhD Annual Review for not being clear about where my ‘contribution to knowledge’ is situated. For the majority of people who sensibly have no interest in postgraduate study; a PhD is essentially the creation […]

Network Camera Testing

Network Camera Testing

As a part of the observational studies during my PhD, I will be filming participants interacting with the immersive space that I am now in the process of constructing. It is important that the children are able to feel comfortable to behave as they choose. […]

The Pen and The Postcard (2013)

The Pen and The Postcard (2013)

Last month, Peter Wildman and I were involved with Electrofringe as a part of the This Is Not Art festival in Newcastle. It was a nice escape from teaching and PhD’ing, and a good opportunity to turn out a work quickly, rather than something that […]

If A System Fails In A Forest…

If A System Fails In A Forest…

I was asked at the beginning of the year to curate a show at 107 Projects in Redfern. I knew that ISEA2013 was on the near horizon in Sydney (I’m speaking at the conference, and will bore you with those details separately) and thought it […]

The Code Barrier

The Code Barrier

Bret Victor has become a little bit of a hero for me. Previously an interface designer at Apple, it seems that Victor was successful at the tech giant, but realised that his vision and theirs didn’t quite fit together and he left in 2010. He’s […]

Confirmed

Confirmed

This is probably the longest break between posts I’ve ever had on this site. But here’s why: Distilling the last 12 months of wildly tangental and strictly (self-imposed) literary research into something resembling a clear direction for the next 2-3 years in just 7500 words […]

Of Christmas Past (2012)

Of Christmas Past (2012)

Recently, myself and a couple of friends were asked to create an installation piece as part of 107 Projects‘ end of year show. The group exhibition, titled The Christmas Show, was built around the theme of what the Christmas tree means to us in Australia. […]

junkMail (2012)

junkMail (2012)

I have a sign placed prominently above my mailbox: “NO ADVERTISING MATERIAL PLEASE”. It’s regularly ignored, particularly by real estate agents and pizza shops. I decided that a public shaming would be the most effective means of ending the tyranny of wasteful advertising and obviously […]

Line Studies

Line Studies

There is a potential exhibition in the works, for which I’ve been doing some simple line drawing studies. These are all fairly self-explanatory; I just thought I’d put them up along with their Max patches for others to use. The first video of each ‘lineDrawer’ […]

fastBREAK Cure

fastBREAK Cure

Last month I was asked to present at the fastBREAK event, put together by Vibewire at the Powerhouse Museum on the last Friday of each month. Each fastBREAK is built around a single topic and asks a group of speakers to present their own thoughts […]

Keeping Up With the Joneses (2012)

Keeping Up With the Joneses (2012)

It’s been a while since I created anything tangible, so I was chuffed that the HAHA Industries guys asked me to come up with some visuals for their D&D’s Beat Ballroom night at the Sydney Fringe Festival this month. Given creative freedom, I thought it […]


My Diary

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It’s been a while since I created anything tangible, so I was chuffed that the HAHA Industries guys asked me to come up with some visuals for their D&D’s Beat Ballroom night at the Sydney Fringe Festival this month. Given creative freedom, I thought it would be a great opportunity to try out some technical ideas I’ve had floating around my head for a while.

I’ve always been keen to try a projection setup that uses multiple scrims in a similar way to stage theatre. The main difference in this first test is that there isn’t a person or object to reveal behind the front scrim, but another screen. The material used in theatre is often called ‘sharkstooth scrim‘ and is fairly expensive, so I decided to try a cheaper alternative for this test run and make my own.

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Gluing mesh to the frames.
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Frame with feet.

I used a cheap, synthetic mesh for these frames. Imagine a hexagonal white flyscreen and you’re pretty close to the mark. The mesh was glued to flyscreen frames that built specifically for the installation and to keep them steady, I put together some feet, made from parts that I found lying around the house. Not particularly slick, but for around $15/screen they made for a good first test run.

What the cheap mesh doesn’t do effectively is create the changing opaque/transparent effect of the sharkstooth scrim. Even when projecting at a sharp angle onto the front screen, the effect is more of a ghostly, translucent image rather than hiding what’s behind it completely. Instead of heading back to the drawing board, I chose to work with this effect as best I could.

I’m a big fan of the 1985  Terry Gilliam film, Brazil. The aesthetic is a very British vision of a 1984-esque dystopian future, that still feels relevant (maybe even more so) today. I particularly like the constant distortion of faces throughout the movie and the tension between which is the surveilling and the surveilled. Whilst catch phrases like “Suspicion Breeds Confidence” from the fictitious government agencies are clearly Gilliam’s dark humor, it really doesn’t feel so dissimilar to the political and media climate of today.

It’s not much of a leap from Gilliam’s pacified public in Brazil to the overarching reach of talkback radio hosts like Alan Jones. Consistently trying to persuade the discourse on important and polarising issues, Jones has more ability to push his right-wing populist agenda than our generally impotent Government, as shown by the Cronulla Riots of 2005.

Heavy-handedly, I chose Jones’ disembodied head to be the centrepiece of Keeping Up With the Joneses, and to cycle through shots from the 2005 riots alongside slogans from Brazil. Frankly, matting out his awful head from a YouTube video is hours from my life that I would rather forget. The installation ran autonomously from a MaxMSP patch, using an audio line in to trigger effects and changes.

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Visuals at Five Eliza.
fiveEliza_20120913_006
Visuals at Five Eliza.

I was hoping to have a lot more content (including some interactive camera tracking) ready for the installation, but it wasn’t to be on the night. In terms of visuals, I think the substance was lacking, but I had some good feedback on the process itself. It was a tricky setup; needing a couple of mirrors and heavy keystoning to get the projection split onto both screens, but the ultimate effect was an interesting sense of depth and ethereality of the images.

I’d like to explore this effect further, possibly on a larger scale, with the audience able to physically move through layers of projected light. The MaxMSP patch is something of a frankensteinien mess, but as always, you’re welcome to have a look around.