Kinetic Shadows: Final Documentation

Kinetic Shadows: Peter Faces Hook from Nick Hubbard on Vimeo.

Peter Faces Hook was presented in both Piecing-it-Together and Mechanisms: If It Moves, It Breaks at the end of last semester.  Greta and I managed to created a compelling object that captivated my classmates as spectators at the same time as it sparked their desire to interact, to spin the wheel and see the illustrated shadows emerge for themselves.

To get to this stage, coming from the proposal outlined in my last post on the project, took a lot of work.  There were two tracks of tasks that needed to be completed: engineering the mechanism to make the sculpture move, and translating our initial prototypes of the sculpture into something cleaner and more durable.

Continue reading Kinetic Shadows: Final Documentation

Anthropocene: Limits Playground 1


2 days worth of waste (and I missed some things) documented for Daily Practice.

Moving into more development of my Final Project inspired by Limits to Growth, I began my Daily Practice of Playful Rules.  I’ve been logging the experience, you can read my reflections here.  Rules I’ve tried to follow (to varying degrees of success):

  • Apologize to the planet when I throw something away and document the object before it “disappears” (see collage above)
  • Hold my breath for at least 30 seconds every time a baby/small child and I share the same space.
  • Each time I turn on a light, create an illustration of a light fixture (can be any kind, here are a sampling):

FullSizeRender (2) FullSizeRender (3)

FullSizeRender (1)




I’m also in Research Mode and looking at the following texts and artists:

  • An Anthology of Chance Operations by George Brecht
  • The Psychology of Climate Change Communication by The Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED)
  • Is Shame Necessary? by Jennifer Jacquet (also Jacquet’s Shame Totems project)  
  • The Situationist International
  • Rules of Play by Katie Salen & Eric Zimmerman
  • Kate Bingaman-Burt
  • On Kawara
  • Hassan  Elahi
  • Improv Everywhere

Next steps are:

  1. Diagramming and Concept Mapping the project
  2. Contacting Experts: Jennifer Jacquet, the Yes Men, CRED, Improv Everywhere

Emotional Readymade: Project Planning

Continuing forward with my concept for a speculative fictional memorial, where a collector in a post-book world has enshrined abandoned texts that are all aged, fragile, and exhausted.

Timeline for the project:

  • By Wed 3.11:
    • Order first round of parts
  • By Friday 3.13:
    • Design & concept sketches
    • Discuss RFID w ppl on the floor
    • Complete  image & concept research
  • By Mon 3.17:
    • Additional sketches & research
    • Hollow out a book and do a manual test of inflation w a balloon v using a servo/motor
    • Decide on shortlist of books to use in piece
  • By Wed 3.19:
    • Test pump/inflation tech
    • Shop for book(s) & display case
    • Order additional parts if needed
  • By Fri 3.21:
    • Modify book & install inflation/tech
    • RFID test
  • By Mon 3.24:
    • Solder circuitry
    • Custom RFID book cards
  • By Tues 3.25:
    • Install into display
  • By Wed 3.26:
    • Finishing touches

Initial BOM:


Part/Service Price Quantity Part# Retailer Weblink Subtotal Notes
Arduino & RFID
Arduino Uno (or Mini) $24.95 1 50 Adafruit $24.95
SparkFun RFID Kit $49.95 1 13198 SparkFun $49.95
RFID Card $1.95 1 8310 SparkFun $1.95
Breathing $0.00
12V DC Diaphragm Air Pump $7.95 2 SK4724 Skycraft $15.90
12V DC Pneumatic Solenoid Valve $3.50 2 RP3724 Skycraft $7.00
4″ Dart Balloons $5.95 1 Amazon/Balloon Emporium $5.95
Air Bladder $16.95 0 All Time Medical $0.00
Plastic Tubing $3.25 1 Amazon/Watts $3.25
Incidentals $0.00
(Wire, paper, components) $20.00 1

Anthropocene: Final Project Planning


For my final project in The Temporary Expert: Anthropocene Edition, I plan to continue down the track I’ve been following with my Living with Limits project.   In the first part of the semester I developed the concept of a Limits Slide, which was a good starting point because it led me towards the potent conflation of “amusement” and “prescriptive rule-making”.  That is where I would like to focus as I go forward.

I developed a series of stamps that, in my original proposal, would be placed on a person’s forearm as a toll/payment to have a desired experience (a ride down a slide).


I don’t believe this was the right context for the stamps, and I’d like to figure out what could be, because the response I received from my classmates around them was so enthusiastic.  Everyone wanted one.  The stamp itself wasn’t a toll, it was the desired experience.  Even though it contained a challenging/provocative question.  What other simultaneous fun + challenging experiences/objects can I develop?  How can rules be joined with play in a way that is useful for exploring living with limits?


To help continue these investigations, I will be embarking on a series of experiments with rules and rituals enforced on myself.  Examples:

  • Every time I make eye contact with someone, attempt to High5 that person
  • Apologize to the planet every time I throw something away, and document it
  • Express gratitude to every animal I see, and document it
  • Hold my breath for 30 seconds every time I see a baby (air sharing/resource competition)


During class today Stefani Bardin, who was our guest lecturer, (and my classmates) pointed me toward some additional resources:

Stefani also spoke about CLEVERNESS & SHAME as part of how these sorts of engagements can be effective.

Anthropocene: Living with Limits Postmortem

Living with Limits- Presentation

Reflection slide from my Midterm Presentation.

In my last post regarding Living with Limits, outlining my midterm presentation for The Temporary Expert Anthropocene Edition, I indicated the following goals for the next project.

Places I would like to improve or expand on for the next project:

  • Continue contacting experts until I have been able to speak to a few.  I didn’t push enough on this after initial radio silence and my first interview.  I know additional perspectives will be very beneficial to the process.
  • Prototype more — whether building or creating experiences/interviews/surveys/tests — I want more real-world feedback to balance the theoretical/research, and earlier in the process.
  • Follow stranger paths — do some work to really go down them and at least consider them (I think the slides were a beginning of this, but I’d like to continue) 
  • Strive to be intentional about materials from the beginning.  This round my concept overtook material considerations, and I think the materials I ended up using work against my ultimate aims, and my slide design is not fully realized because it doesn’t include sustainable materials — I just didn’t factor that in.
  • Use the tool of Research Questions & Conceptual Questions in a more formal way (I was really inspired by Rebecca’s work in this regard).

After class I received some excellent feedback, and I want to incorporate it as well into what I do going forward:

  • The stamps were the more tangible, effective part of my project — was this just a function of the presentation, or is there more in them than in the slide idea?  How do they convey my concept better than the slide?
  • Does the notion of the slide as an installation effectively capture the conceptual concerns of my project?  Could an intervention that is more active for the participant, encouraging them to perform something in response to the prompts/contemplations on the stamps, be more powerful?
  • What sort of non-verbal cues or communication could come into play, as opposed to the text-based ones that provided context in my midterm version of the project.

Overall I think getting more specific within the framework of “limits to growth” early on would have been helpful to propel the project within the limited timeframe.  The projects that were presented by my classmates, that I found most compelling, all had a very tangible, concrete nugget around which to wrap their concept and carry out their investigations (examples: Stream’s myth, Lufti’s sci-fi near-future).

Kinetic Shadows: Mechanisms Proposal

When the Captain’s Wheel of our kinetic shadow sculpture is turned, the fragments of the Pan images will rotate in an opposing direction.  I’m proposing to execute this mechanism based on a co-axial gear system (often utilized for helicopter rotors, among other things, in this case a clock).


Hand-drawn sketches of the system, with gear relationships and anticipated layout:



FullSizeRender (1) FullSizeRender (2)

Representations of the gear system in Adobe Illustrator (the gears were generated in Vectorworks software, then imported maintaining their ratios and positioning).

  • Wheel: 20″ D
  • Rod/Wire mounting plate: 6 3/4″ D
  • Gear spacing plates: 4.5″ D
  • Gear 1 ID: 3/16″  OD: 2″
  • Gear 2  ID: 3/16″ OD: 1″
  • Gears 3, 5 ID: 7/16″ OD: 2″
  • Gear 6  ID: 7/16″   OD: 1″
  • Gear 7 ID: 7/16″ OD:  1 1/2″
  • Central gear shaft (rotates mounting plate): 9 1/2″ L
  • Central gear tube (rotates wheel): 8″ L
  • Gear 3 shaft: 4″ L
  • Gear 5 shaft:  4″ L
  • Sculpture base: 10 1/4″ D x 2″ W






I laser-cut prototype gears in both wood and acrylic to test the system.


I had intended to use the laser-cutter for the Captain’s Wheel, because I didn’t know how to use the CNC router(we will be using it in Piecing-it-Together after Spring Break), but David Rios, one of the ITP Residents, cautioned me against lasering thick plywood and simultaneously suggested that once CNC’d, I’d never go back.  So I commandeered a few of my classmates over the course of a few hours to show me how to load my Illustrator file into MasterCam, layout the paths for milling, and then operate the CNC.  The result:

IMG_6625 IMG_6618

Sketches & images of the design for the visual/shadow/perceptual element in previous posts here & here.


Kinetic Shadows: Prototyping the Imagery 2

IMG_6542Peter Pan, built of fragments from a silhouette design.

This past week we continued the design process for the visual-perceptual aspect of our kinetic shadow sculpture.  We started with full-form silhouette designs, breaking those into fragments to arrange and compose the images, as opposed to the start-from-random-pieces-of-paper method we tried in the beginning.  While there was something magical about composing a representation of Peter Pan on the fly, the result was rougher than we wanted, and I made it a goal to incorporate the laser-cutter into the fabrication of the piece on all levels (not just the mechanism).

We were confident that we could achieve the dual image, on dual axes, as anticipated in my last post.

IMG_6547Greta adding Captain Hook fragments perpendicular to, and amidst, the Peter Pan bits.

Continue reading Kinetic Shadows: Prototyping the Imagery 2

Emotional Readymade: Dust Jackets

Dust.  Step, shuffle, breathe, just move and dust.  The whole room, all its inches, are covered.  You didn’t mean to walk down this corridor.  You didn’t mean to enter the door, half buried, to this unrecognizable building.  But you had just used Harvest to get your foraging rations for the day, so you weren’t hungry, and today you were feeling curious.  No one was around the ruins, and you happen to have hacked your monitorphone so it thinks you are on the other side of the woods.  The room seemed to call to you.  Then you saw the letters on the glass, “Library”.  It took you a minute to remember the algorithm for reading, but you got it, and you happen to be someone who has an interest in out-dated technologies, so you know a bit about what physical Libraries were.  You didn’t expect the dust.  The books–have you ever seen a book?  You can’t remember but you don’t think so, not in person–the dust has mostly broken them down, eaten them away.  There isn’t much to read on the pages.  You trip, you didn’t see that stool, and so many nanoparticles fill the air, fill your nostrils, that you sneeze, and it billows and billows.  And you see the pages, see them disintegrate, they are what’s filling the air, the remnants of words, phrases, literatures, philosophies, histories.  You clear yourself off, carefully, not wanting to stir up any more bits of text.  A glimmer of metal catches your eye.  The latch to a cabinet.  You walk over.  Age or luck has left it unlocked.  You open it and there’s nothing there.  You think.  But you reach in anyway.  You find a breach in the back, where a shelf was shifted, and something is stuck back there.  You pull and shift, and extract it, like a fossil.

Continue reading Emotional Readymade: Dust Jackets

Anthropocene: Living with Limits: Midterm

 Living with Limits- PresentationSlide 1 in my in-class presentation, 3/4/15.

This week marks the culmination of my Living with Limits project for The Temporary Expert: Anthropocene Edition.  Combining research and concept development has led me to the following proposal for a design engagement around the theme “limits to growth”.


I propose to construct a semi-permanent, playful installation, The Limits Slide, that can live at such events as Street Fairs, Music Festivals, and Mardi Gras, or in a site-specific urban location.  The Limits Slide is an actual slide that is adult-sized (like this one in Seattle, WA).  Similar to many playground slides, it has a prominent twist in the path from top to bottom.  Unlike other slides, this one involves text-based provocations that conflate prescriptive measures (speeding tickets, fines, tolls) with the exchange of amusements,  turning the rider toward contemplation of natural limits.   At the base of the steps leading to the Limits Slide is a booth, where riders must receive a stamp if they want to proceed up.  The stamp they receive marks them with a question for ongoing reflection, such as “What if we see progress as a non-relentless process?”   Upon reaching the top of the steps, the rider is faced with a concave barrier that reads, “Up  Forward: You Cannot Ascend Further”.  Two choices become available: turn around and go back down the steps, or, descend the slide that is now also behind the rider.  The slide, as mentioned, twists as it descends and anyone who goes down will emerge further in space than when they started up the installation.  At this other end of the slide is a second booth, where anyone with a stamp can receive an upcycled traffic ticket; on the ticket are instructions that state, “The bearer of this ticket is entitled to one free Living with Limits service provided by the following sponsors and participants.”  Companies and organizations will be collaborators in the project, and donate services such as a class on home-composting, an organized clothing swap, and a communal meal made from community garden harvests.


Click here for my in-class presentation deck.

Continue reading Anthropocene: Living with Limits: Midterm