Designing Club Culture: Audio-Visual Sculptures by Maya Pruitt

I’d Like to Change the World by Ten Years After

This is a pretty literal visual, but I wanted to create a distortion to an image over time. The guitar parts without percussion and the airy sound of the vocalist inspired me to create something with a gooey movement.


Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing by Stevie Wonder

My visual interpretation of this song is very colorful to evoke an upbeat mood.

Link to p5.js sketch.


My Generation by The Who

For this last sculpture I struggled with executing what I imagined. The lyrics of the song struck me, as well as its call and response structure. I feel like it lends itself to an interactive piece. I wanted to play with the idea of stopping the song after the lead sings and it would only continue after the user responds (clicks button, maybe). I also think it would be interesting if the words (from user input) appeared during the response segments, these would represent what users consider their “generation”.

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Data Art: Week One - Visualizing Hemlock Tree Data by Maya Pruitt

For this assignment we were asked to visualize a dataset about a hemlock tree that lived from 1579 to 2000. The data includes ring width in millimeters for each year, as well as the growth index.

Visualization #1:

This takes the in class example and animates it to show the change over time. By changing the for loop into an if statement, the points can be drawn one at a time. It gives a nice effect of adding more information throughout the lifespan of the tree.

Visualization #2:

This version creates rings based on the value of the ring width. It is linear like the in-class example to create a familiar timeline visual. Left most side is 1579 and right is 2000. If the ring outline is larger that indicates larger ring width. This visualization is quite chaotic and hard to decipher.

Visualization #3:

This visualization is meant to replicate tree cross sections that show concentric circles of tree growth. It is a very literal interpretation, but It challenged me to truly represent the meaning of ring width. Each year the ring will form around the previous one. The ring width is the space between rings. Ultimately, the tree’s lifespan is the sum of all the ring widths.

Visualization #4:

I wanted to extract the other column of data for this one which is the growth index values. I wanted to represent how from year to year the grow index either increases or decreases. I think the algorithm I used for this is off, but it is meant to depict increase as green circles and decrease as red circles.

CataclysmVR by Maya Pruitt

Cataclysm VR seeks to recreate the most recent mass extinction in history - the destruction of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago - so we may experience a cataclysmic asteroid impact that we could never have witnessed first hand.

How? This VR experience was designed in Unity. Users are encouraged to sit in a swivel chair to give them 360 degree movement. The mechanics work so that user will move forward in the direction of their gaze when they push a remote button.

Why? CataclysmVR was an exploration of the balance between explanation and self-discovery. When illustrating a time in history, should it be a cinematic experience or an interactive narrative? We were really curious about choose-your-own-adventure style dynamics and how users might be affected by different possible endings. We played with ideas of eliciting emotion, granting/restricting agency, as well as creating suspense and surprise.

The experience incorporates technical applications of NavMeshes, AI, animation, transitional scenes, and spatial sound in Unity.

Link to presentation deck.

Music Interaction Design: Final by Maya Pruitt

The time has come! After a whole semester developing this project, I’m proud to show how far it has come.

Post User testing, I decided in this last week to retain a lot of the existing functionality because it actually went over quite well. Why fix something that’s not broken. I put my attention towards aesthetics to highlight its simplicity. It is a visual piece and should look the part!

I learned so much about HTML and CSS. It was amazing to feel that in control of aesthetics of web design. I played with some different mappings in the performance mode, but felt it already looked the best that I could make it. I did successfully change the mapping on pitch match to be a bit smoother, which felt like the area that needed it the most. Lastly, I was able to combine the pages so that it truly feels like a navigable website.

I decided to emphasize the order and make it feel more like a progression. Each mode builds off the next.

In future iterations, I would love to add a harmony mode with color mixing and experiment with multiple mic input so it can be a collaborative experience.

Visual Style Guide:

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Music Interaction Design: User Testing by Maya Pruitt

Accurate pitch detection was my biggest challenge in this project journey. However, once I got a handle on ml5 and the pitch detection trained model, my concept got new life. I focused on creating 3 modes for the user test: an introduction to learn how the colors are associated with notes, a pitch match, and a free form performance mode.

I was really curious how people would interact with the project and if it would actually feel useful. My paranoia has been that the concept is too simple, but I was pleasantly surprised and received great feedback.

FUNCTIONALITY

My top priority was making this work. Are the mappings informative? Does it accomplish the goal (visualizing singing) in a meaningful way?

Color notes:

“The first one is confusing, I’m not sure what to do”

“I’m not sure what’s going on”

For the first mode people seemed a bit lost about what to do. There was a natural tendency to look for a pitch match scenario. Someone wanted less explanation of the task, another person wanted more, and most people didn’t really read the instructions.

Pitch Match:

“Pitch match is more effective for learning, maybe you need more explanation or a visual cue.”

“I’d like more feedback when I’ve gotten the right note”

“It’s satisfying seeing the circles match”

“i’m not that bad”

“I need this”

Pitch Match came across very straight forward and most people enjoyed it as a challenge. I liked watching people play the note many times to recenter themselves and try again. This is exactly how I intended it to be used.

Performance:

“there is good initial feedback in performance mode. It’s a bit fast”

“that initial fill is very surprising, maybe that can be used more”

“I can see the range of the song in the performance mode, saturation is mapped well to volume”

As expected this mode got a lot of feedback because it’s more expressive. People seemed to genuinely like the color to frequency mapping as well as the opacity changes based on volume. It was fun watching people get excited about singing a song when it was paired with the visuals, even country national anthems!

AESTHETICS

This project has a huge visual component so I took seriously any comments about improving its look.

“In the performance mode, maybe the graphics could be more feathery or painter-like”

“it should be as stylish as possible”

“circle buttons?”

“I like the color, its so beautiful”

My next step is to improve the navigation between these modes and make it resemble more of a website. I would love to add more modes, but will see how time allows. I feel better about it than I thought and am excited to make it polished.

Soft Robotics: Inflatables & Bio-Inspiration by Maya Pruitt

MYLAR EXPERIMENTS

The shiny silver quality of mylar called to my inner magpie. I knew it would be easy for me to get lost in making just aesthetic creations, so I tried really hard with my experiments to think about the functional quality of mylar and inflatables.

Experiment 1: Lift and Movement

For this experiment I made simple small circle shapes but thought about how it would act underneath a flat surface. It is easy to see how inflating can lift a surface upwards. However, in future interactions I think this would translate well with programmable air. I couldn’t get my hands on tubing to make this work how I wanted, but I would be really curious to see if blowing up each of the circles at different times could cause the board to move. I predict a sort of shimmy movement or it it remains stationary and just create diff surface levels.

Underside of the flat surface.

Underside of the flat surface.

Experiment 2: Claws

Still intrigued by the idea of movement, I loved looking at the inflatable gripping robots and wanted to experiment with mylar’s ability to curve.

The first claw uses a technique similar to the example in class, using a long slender shape with tacts along the middle, however I made the tact lines really thin and close together. The “fingers” however, were too long and didn’t quite get the closure I was looking for.

The second claw, has shorter fingers and the tact spread slightly further apart. This one has a much better closing look to it, but the “fingers” still don’t touch. It definitely wouldn’t be able to pick anything up. I think length matters a lot in terms of how the fingers will close and the way inner walls are constructed would make a big difference in how curved the mylar can form.

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Experiment 3: Temperature retention

I read up on mylar and learned that because of its reflective surface, mylar is often used to keep things cool. I wanted to test this by using the inflated mylar around a glass with an ice cube. Which would melt first?

The inflatable lost air quite quickly, so I don’t think the mylar was really touching the glass enough to create true insulation, but the ice in the non mylar glass did appear to melt slightly faster.

The inflatable lost air quite quickly, so I don’t think the mylar was really touching the glass enough to create true insulation, but the ice in the non mylar glass did appear to melt slightly faster.

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BIO-INSPIRATION: PARASITIC FUNGI

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I recently watched an episode of Planet Earth, which featured a segment on parasitic fungi. I apologize for the graphic nature of such a choice and for the photograph depicted here, but it was just so fascinating to me I wanted to write about it. There exists many different types of fungi that pray on insects, infect their brains, kill them, and then grow out of their bodies. It is truly a horrific survival tactic, and almost so sci-fi it is hard to believe it exists in nature. The reason I think it would be interesting to transfer over to technology is because of the idea that it can spawn from any “shell”. When you think about it, this sort of exists in terms of softwares, which we can install into different machines. Or perhaps computer viruses emulate this biological example as well. However, what if we could do this with hardware as well. I’m imagining something a step further than something modular, that really emphasizes the emergent growth. Wouldn’t it be cool to have electronics that attach to different kinds of bases and self install/grow/learn/evolve? I’m not exactly how this would work or how to translate the tech from the bio-inspiration, but the fact that the fungi spreads by hijacking existing systems is really intriguing to me. It would nice to transfer it to technology with a more positive connotation.

VR Manifesto by Maya Pruitt

VR is a complex multi-faceted medium. I don’t think I can possibly organize all my thoughts about it, and this manifesto will probably change many times as I learn more about it. I don’t really feel qualified to write a manifesto at all, but it’s cool to record my current opinions about VR – what it is, what it isn’t, and what it can do for me (right now).

  1. VR is a powerful tool with many applications. I’m starting with this point to simply highlight what we all know. VR is still a relatively new medium and is growing and ever changing. What makes it so powerful is its ability to transform time and space, whether for storytelling, simulation, or world building. It can be applied to any context and discipline, but I want to focus on how VR changes the traditional framework and boundaries for creatives. Visual artists used to a 2D space, now have a 3D canvas. Filmmakers that imagine their stories on a rectangular screen can now give an audience 360 degree views. Architects accustomed to designing functional space can use their knowledge in a new context that, by choice, abandons or adheres to physics. And users can have first-hand experiences in far away places in the physical comfort of their living rooms.

  2. VR emphasizes presence by hijacking our perceptual abilities. We started this class with discussions of presence and immersion. I believe that VR is truly an exercise of these ideas. I personally find VR to be incredibly immersive. I give over to my presence immediately, and it doesn’t take much for me to disassociate from the real world. I place myself fully in the VR space. However, I acknowledge (and I think it’s important that VR creators, in general, also acknowledge this) that the hijacking of perception is only one aspect of presence. The other aspect is the ability to suspend belief, the mental part, the dealing with this complicated human thing of consciousness. I believe it’s easy to convince the brain that what it is seeing is “real”, but it’s a lot harder to convince the mind.

  3. Because perception in VR is mainly visual, this is both and advantage and a disadvantage. As a visual person, VR blows my mind every time, because it makes me “see” differently. Humans are certainly visual creatures, but we have other senses. I definitely think that while visuals and sounds are powerful in VR, it never feels quite “whole” without smell, taste, and touch. When you limit the senses, you emphasize the virtuality. Ultimately, it frustrates me that VR’s heavy visual component makes it not completely accessible.

  4. VR can make you feel things. I always thought of VR as having the capability of creating empathy, a conclusion I had come to more from just imagining uses for VR rather than from doing VR experiences or looking at research. After these readings this week, I’m not too sure how to think – empathy might be too strong of a word. So instead I’d like to say that because of its immersive quality, VR makes you feel. These emotions can be anything from a quick scare to more profound lasting effects, which leads me to point…

  5. We have tools to elicit certain kinds of feelings, but reactions to a VR experience are unpredictable…and

  6. Unpredictability is what makes VR awesome. We have built a toolkit as creatives, as storytellers, as people, of what sorts of things elicit emotion. We know that color, space, sound, etc. are elements that in combination or in absence can be provocative, but just because we intend for something doesn’t mean it will turn out that way. That’s one of the things I like most about VR. Since it enhances first-person experience, certain emotions and perceptions might feel heightened, but the ultimate impact is subjective.

  7. VR is temporary. When thinking about creating for a VR experience, I think it’s important to consider that the experience is fleeting. You must create interest for your user while they are in the headset and whether or not that experience sticks with them after is probably more up to them than up to you. For a new user the novelty of the technology may be enough to enthrall them, but for the VR veteran, what makes them stay? Make for the moment.

  8. VR is virtual, but believability and immersion come from being grounded in reality. I think the most successful VR experiences for me were ones that still borrowed principles from reality, meaning our world or something that resembles things we already know. However, if you create rules for your world to abide by, then users are more likely to buy into it. It can be the most fantastical place in the world, where the most unrealistic things happen, but if it’s meant to happen that way, I know that it belongs there.

  9. VR spaces can become places. I have enjoyed thinking about the distinction between these words, and have gravitated to the word “personal” as being the key difference. Space is an abstract concept, place is somewhere meaningful to the individual. I think that whether a VR experience is modeled from an more abstract space that feels general or obscure or it is modeled from a personal childhood memory or somewhere familiar to the creator or the user, the experience itself can become a place for the user. No one will experience a VR experience the same way, but once they have experienced it, that world is now a place for them.

  10. VR is art. Even with the limited experience that I had as a user of VR before Poetics of Space, I always admired its capabilities and its aesthetics. I’ve discovered now that, as a medium, it melds well with my interdisciplinary nature and I’ve gotten to explore it with my cognitive science lens. However, what I am enjoying most is that it makes me to tap into my artistry. It allows me to revisit principles of visual language, think about concepts and meaning, and delve into ethics. VR doesn’t feel like an unapproachable technology anymore, it feels like something I can mold and manipulate with my hands, and that is really exciting.


Music Interaction Design: Post Midterm Progress by Maya Pruitt

After presenting my midterm, I felt I was on the right track. I received positive feedback for the overall concept and aesthetic, but was encourage to take it further. In addition, I realized that the FFT() and getCentroid() functions I were using didn’t quite give me the accuracy I was looking for. Although it was suggested before to use ml5, I think I stayed away from it because I was too nervous to delve into another coding library. I stuck with what was familiar but I ended up applying the wrong tool to my task.

Since the midterm my main focus has been transferring my current progress over to ml5 for improved accuracy. However, it almost feels like a step back because it took me a while just to understand ml5 and get the pitchDetection examples running (after starting a server, I can only run the pitchDetection examples in FireFox, no other browsers! grrr why??).

Coding for me is a quite painstaking activity. It is kind of ironic that I’ve chosen a final project that is primarily coding-based, so it is slow going, but it is going.

I wish I had more to show, but I feel good about my current understanding of ml5, the example pitchDetection programs, and how to modify them for what I want to do.

Soft Robotics: Big Box Store & Cable Control Experiments by Maya Pruitt

Big Box Store Visit

When it’s a rainy day, visit Michael’s!

When it’s a rainy day, visit Michael’s!

BEESWAX: A soft material in that it is has a specific melting point. This version attracted me because it is in small pellets to later become a larger vat of material.

BEESWAX: A soft material in that it is has a specific melting point. This version attracted me because it is in small pellets to later become a larger vat of material.

UNICORN: This was a soft plastic material. Not rigid like a hard plastic, it had give to it and could be squished. Also hilarious that it’s called a unicorn but it has no horn.

UNICORN: This was a soft plastic material. Not rigid like a hard plastic, it had give to it and could be squished. Also hilarious that it’s called a unicorn but it has no horn.

RUBBER STAMP: Rubber in general is a very malleable material, but at the same time it retains its shape really well.

RUBBER STAMP: Rubber in general is a very malleable material, but at the same time it retains its shape really well.

STAMP PAD: I was attracted to the ink pad as well as the stamp itself because it is essentially a sponge. I like the aspect of how it can retain a liquid, which could be interesting to explore further.

STAMP PAD: I was attracted to the ink pad as well as the stamp itself because it is essentially a sponge. I like the aspect of how it can retain a liquid, which could be interesting to explore further.

CORD: Ropes and cords are very flexible. They can be manipulated themselves or used to manipulate other things. This one had a special glow in the dark property.

CORD: Ropes and cords are very flexible. They can be manipulated themselves or used to manipulate other things. This one had a special glow in the dark property.

WOODEN SNAKE: Although wood is not traditionally considered “soft”, it was interesting to see how altering it in this way, gives it articulation and flexibility like a soft material.

WOODEN SNAKE: Although wood is not traditionally considered “soft”, it was interesting to see how altering it in this way, gives it articulation and flexibility like a soft material.

PLAY DOH: An ultimate throwback for a soft material. Its squishy quality is the most attractive, but I always remember it drying out. I wonder how this will effect things.

PLAY DOH: An ultimate throwback for a soft material. Its squishy quality is the most attractive, but I always remember it drying out. I wonder how this will effect things.

FOAM CREATURE: This form of foam was awesome to touch. It was very squishy and could hold shape briefly if you applied enough force. It was most fun to watch it slowly return to its original shape.

FOAM CREATURE: This form of foam was awesome to touch. It was very squishy and could hold shape briefly if you applied enough force. It was most fun to watch it slowly return to its original shape.

BRUSHES: This attracted me as a soft material because its a collection of one thing (a bristle) to make a larger surface area.

BRUSHES: This attracted me as a soft material because its a collection of one thing (a bristle) to make a larger surface area.

CHOCOLATE MOLDS: Literally soft robots! It is a silky textured plastic I think, kind of like a silicone. It retains shape, but has a floppy quality.

CHOCOLATE MOLDS: Literally soft robots! It is a silky textured plastic I think, kind of like a silicone. It retains shape, but has a floppy quality.