Honours Studio 2 – Week 15-17

All good things must come to an end, and so too has my Honours project. Not only that, but this marks the finish line of my undergraduate degree and the disappearance of my 20’s. It’s been a pretty big year, so it’s been nice to see that my work had an impact on the child participating in the study. I can’t say that it’s made any quantifiable improvements to her life, but her mother tells me that she appreciates the work I’ve done, which really does make me quite proud of what I’ve achieved so far. Hopefully this is just the start of my research in this area.

Because my work relies so heavily on context and documentation which I can’t show to the public (privacy and ethics issues), I won’t be exhibiting the devices I constructed at The Annual graduate show this year. It has been examined however, so here is a brief wrap-up of how the final device came together…

A total of 18 vibrating motors were placed within the surface of the mat. They were laid out in two grids of 3×3 motors – each to be controlled by separate triggers on corresponding ends of the mat.

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Foam mat with runs of plastic conduit.

The triggers for the motors were a simple affair: a button completed the circuit, which is powered by 2 x AA batteries (for each trigger). They were a little frankensteinien – mostly put together with bits and pieces I had collected along the way, but they did the job nicely.

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One of the triggering mechanisms.

In keeping with the soft feel of the device, I covered the trigger with a piece of pool noodle and ran it down each side. Interestingly, when I gave this mat to the child, she enjoyed rolling her feet over the cylindrical shape of the foam, maybe more so than the flat area of the mat. It will be fascinating to see how she responds after spending some more time with the device and perhaps when it’s used with some of her own belongings, like rugs or pillows.

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The trigger with pool noodle hat.

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Completed mat (sans covering).

My sewing skills leave a lot to be desired, so I was a bit cagey about taking on the covering part of this project. I think the less said about this the better, but in a round about way, it came together. I used a bland, serviceable colour for most of the mat, with contrasting red for the triggers, to make them as obvious as possible. The triggers have been placed far enough apart, that the child cannot activate them both at once – hopefully encouraging co-operative interaction between herself and a parent or therapist.

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I did not miss my calling as a seamstress.

As I’ve pointed out, this project doesn’t really work in an exhibition context. As I’m not able to present any documentation to the public for privacy reasons, the devices won’t stand up on their own as a ‘work of art’. I was however able to show documentation to the examiners and supervisors for the purpose of marking my study. I must say it was nice to have the most simple setup for once.

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All three devices set up for examination.

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Examination room with supporting video documentation.

I’ve treated this project as an ongoing process all year, so it feels strange to try and tie things up neatly here. I don’t see this work as being ‘complete’, but instead the start of a much larger study (more on that later). I do want to formally thank a few very generous people that have supported me throughout this year – to say that I couldn’t have done this without the help of others is an understatement and I can’t say enough how much I appreciate it…

  • Emma and Aspect for their guidance and belief that I could actually pull this off
  • Tom for somehow managing to find the time to not just respond, but engage with my many questions
  • The Awesome Foundation for… thinking that my project is awesome
  • Ezra for once again coming to the rescue with his exceptional manufacturing skills
  • A special thanks to Lauren, who is always unwaveringly supportive in all ways – I don’t think I would have survived this year without your kindness
  • And an extra special thanks to Michelle and Paige – I hope we get to spend more time together next year

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