Sign on a bus stop in Astoria, Queens
This weekend I performed in the build/decay festival at The Tank. It was my first opportunity to incorporate Experimental Devices for Performance into a live stage performance. I used the video hat I’ve been working on and demoed for the second week of Wearables class. There are some improvements made to the last version. The current build includes 3 enlarged patches of conductive fabric for the leads as well as two sets of eyelash switches (see this entry for more on eyelash switches). Many thanks to Lauren Rosati for putting the festival together and Mike Rosenthal and The Tank for being generally awesome.
And the biggest thanks to Ariel Efron for documenting the show. Thank you!
Video is below.
view the program
Hack a device. This week’s project focuses on re-appropriating cheap consumer technology for use in a wearable. My device of choice was the point and shoot Polaroid 600 instant camera.
But how to make it into a wearable?
Camera technology has always fascinated me. The image is a powerful thing, but with the image’s exponential proliferation and exploitation, what value does the image still hold? Is image still truth. Is it still time? Is image iconic? These are the things I’ve been thinking about heading into this weeks project.
With this in mind, I’ve decided to make a wearable that takes a picture of the wearer. I want the shutter to be activated by a gestural action that does not involve pressing a button – preferably an involuntary action. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
A camera attached to a bike helmet that takes a picture using the eyes as physical switches. That’s right. The eyes as physical switches and conductive fabric glued to my face.
And here’s how I got there:
First I need to get a new Polaroid camera with a momentary push-button switch instead of a mechanical switch (usually found on the older models) to trigger the shutter. It is amazing how fast Polaroids are disappearing from the market these days. You can buy a digital keychain camera for half the price of a new Polaroid. What’s more, a 3-pack of film for a Polaroid costs about as much as the camera itself. An expensive habit.
Time to hack the Polaroid. These cameras are usually fairly well put together as any light sensitive equipment should be. The thing about instant Polariods though is that they are usually snap together. Luckily this model has 3 tiny screws holding the sides together after it pops open. After taking the screws out I carefully pry off the top to reveal the innards. The goods:
I’ve located the shutter release as pictured above and determined through testing that the center switch and one of the periphery switches need to be closed simultaneously to trigger the shutter to release. With this figured out I can go on to snipping the existing wires and soldering leads for new switches that I’ll add later.
Getting the casing back together is surprisingly easy, with a little care. My camera appears to be back in working order. Testing the new leads I’ve soldered only requires closing the switches. That just means touching all the wires together at once. Flash. Good. It works.
I’ll run these leads along a wire hanger I’ve bent to attach the camera to a bike helmet. I’ll terminate the leads in half-snaps so that I can convert the wire to conductive thread for the switch interface. (See this post for more info on snaps and converting wire to conductive thread and fabric)
On to the switches.
Swithces. Binary. Open. Closed. Eyes. Binary. Sexy. Why. Why not?
I’ve always wanted to translate the movement of eyelids to the opening and closing of a switch. Using conductive fabric, conductive thread and some spirit gum, I’ve finally got a solution.
I’ve cut the conductive fabric in thin strips and frayed the edges to give them more of a fake eyelash look. I’ve carefully sewn the conductive thread to the lashes at one end and to the other half of my snap connectors at the other. I attach them to my face making sure that the leads don’t touch eachother. I snap the lash switches to the snaps on the helmet and I’ve got a working system.
With the switches wired up correctly, the wearer has to close both eyes at the same time to get the shutter to release. This way all you get are pictures with the wearers eyes closed.
Most pictures look something like this: link
i heart ITP
I’ve decided to start a seperate blog specifically for my thesis at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU. As of this writing (02/07) I am not actively linking to it as I would my other work. This is a semi-private document and thought space. I need to set it up in this way to give myself structure while also allowing a lot of play. The signal to noise ratio may be a bit more 50-50. I am going to try to make this a hyper-active scrap-book. I’ll be post anything and everything as I see fit. No need to justify. It all fits into my thesis somehow. My thesis…Experimental Devices for Performance. (for now)
I’m not going to post a link to it, but if you’d like to see it just drop me a line.
A Public Apology -
This morning I hit the foot of a woman in front of me with the bar of the revolving subway turn-style coming out of the 8th street downtown N train exit.
She’s walking slowly. She’s in a Robert Wilson stage direction she’s walking so slow. She’s walking next to a turtle. I am stuck behind her. We get to the turn-style. She waits two full revolutions. Nothing. No signs of any forward motion. I do a half-committed open-palm Virgin Mary thing behind her and finally she enters the turn-style. I make it a point to get in at the next slot to show her that it’s not just one person per revolution, but one person per slot, making it in fact three people per revolution. The thing that I do not do, is push. I simply keep her pace, immediately behind her. She exits. I keep her pace. It’s a good three feet until that next divider bar of the turn-style is gonna fly by at a blazing 1-2 mph. Somehow….somehow it grazes the back of her heel. And then I exit. And then she turns, looks and me, twists her face, and walks toward the wall. She puts her hand up against the wall, for support I’m assuming, and makes that mad-faced open-mouthed subdued-but-animalistic low growl. And shouts, “why did you do that! you should have waited.” “I’m sorry,” I say. I say I am sorry four or five more times as I walk next to her, speedily now walking up the stairs. She turns the corner. And I say I am sorry.
These types of things have been happening lately. I’ll be in a rush, and commuters will be strolling along like it’s national hands-in-your-pockets-day. They’ll be in my way and they’ll be moving slowly and I’ll accidentally brush their elbow with the turn-style. They’ll be walking up the stairs two at a time, when it’s obvious there are lines established. I won’t get out of the way. They get out of the way a bit too late. Out shoulders meet, we are both shocked at the force. They’ll be slow on the steps. I’ll accidentally find their Duane Reade bag underfoot. Crunch.
I’ve decided that this cannot weigh on my conscience any longer. I have decided to make a public apology.
I’ve coupled this idea, with an exploration in Wearables. This is a self-user test. The next step is to get the proper screen and build the wearable device to hold it in place.
Wednesday 3:30 – 6:00
Caren Rabbino, Instructor
Thesis concept paper.
Experimental Devices for Performance are wearable and handheld devices used for media interaction in experimental performance. Being performer oriented, the devices make the connection between media and performer inseparable. The performer affects the media through the devices and the devices affects the performer. Together, they become the performance.
I’m posting a link to the dailies here only because daily015 bears a strong resemblance to what I am developing for a possible upcoming wearables project. This short clip is a very basic proof of concept demonstrating augmented reality using very specific screens in very specific ways.
More intimate versions are soon to come…
Acting Stranger is an experiment in performance.
I write short scripts.
I invite people who I don’t know to read those scripts and choose a specific scene and character they would like to perform.
We set up a date, location, and time.
There is no introduction.
There is no direction.
There is only one take.
There are no goodbyes.
The only interaction is the interaction that takes place within the scene.
I am rolling this site out slowly.
Any comments would be appreciated.
Tell your friends! Because they’re not my friends! They’re perfect strangers!
create an item of clothing using wool, cotton, leather, and electronic component, conductive fabric or thread.
I’ve decided to start bringing in thesis idea influences early on in this class.
Experimental Devices for performance is this weeks working title. You can read more about my thesis proposal and research here or here as a pdf (34k)
For this project specifically I am interested in exploring soft video. As an initial exploration into this topic I decided to see whether or not it is possible to send composite video signal over conductive thread.
Looks like it’s all systems go for now.
I’ve decided to start with some sketches that I’ve made during our first week of class. Then it’s on to construction.
I am using a hat-on-hat combo that I usually wear as a daily fashion choice. The under-hat is a New York Yankees hat with a rigid brim. This will be used to attach the cameras. The over-hat is a crocheted black cap that Kristin made for me. This will be used as a place to put the conductive fabric video lead patches as well as housing for batteries and wires.
The cameras are my standard low-cost security camera of choice from super circuits. I’ve used coat hangers from the dry-cleaners to attach the cameras to the hat.
The camera’s composite output terminates in a standard female RCA connection (there is no sound). I’ve made my own male RCA connector that terminates on the opposite end in a snap connection. The signal and ground of the video cable are soldered to two seperate female snaps. This is done to be able to make a solid connection between the wires and the conductive fabric of the patches. (Soldering to conductive fabric or thread is not very feasible.) The male side of the snaps are sewn to the crocheted hat with conductive thread, which is also used to sew the pathes of conductive fabric to the hat.
Now the camera’s RCA output leads are connected solidly to the individual patches of the hat. One for signal and one for ground. In this way I will be able to reverse engineer this process on the television side of things.
Two patches of the same conductive fabric are attached to the television and positioned so they line up with the patches on the hat. Signal to signal and ground to ground. The same fabric sewn to snap and snap soldered to wire technique that was used on the hat is implemented here.
After I attach some 9V batteries and hide them in the fold of the skull cap, the first prototype of Experimental Devices for Performance # 1 is ready to be demo-ed.