Zahra 2216

Created Date: 2016-05-05/ updated date: 2016-05-23
Owner & Collaborators
Zahra 2216 by carmelcrane is licensed under the Creative Commons - Attribution license.
This project documents the development of an interactive art installation using Processing and computer vision, video projection and a fresnel lens sculpture to envision the life of a cyborg in the year 2216. The steps that follow provide an overview of our process as well as shared files that may be of use to others interested in doing similar projects.





        • In the beginning we created a written proposal and research question as part of a graduate program in multimedia at California State University, East Bay. Our project is an interactive video art installation that examines sensory experience through a fictional character Zahra 2216.
          • This is a note to inform those reading about this project that in the beginning we had four team members. Two members decided to drop out of the project so we altered the original idea to reflect the capabilities of two people rather than four.

            Humans ... so finicky!
        • We created a paper prototype to envision the art installation resulting in three artifacts that articulate the life of a woman turning into a cyborg.  Zahra is exceptional in the world of cyborgs because she has a conscience. She manifests her tech-ability as empathy and kindness. 
          • We worked as a team to produce a pitch video to promote our idea to the faculty. We were also interested in solidifying the narrative and potentially posting a Kickstarted campaign to raise funds for the project.
            • During this phase we began collecting materials and experimenting with various tools to find the best way to craft our project. Early on we also spent a lot of time focused on learning the technologies and coding necessary to create the interactive projection aspect of the art installation.
              • At first we thought it would be interesting to use computer vision and the PIXY Cam 5 to teach the computer to recognize color. Once this stage was accomplished, we could then import the X,Y coordinates via serial data into Arduino, create a syphon to Processing to create the interactivity.

                • After a lot of frustration in terms of getting our process to work effectively. we decided to rethink our use of technologies. We learned to think more carefully about what a given technology does well, and consider the downfalls of pushing tools to do things they were not designed for.
                  • After consulting with our advisors, we decided to swap our complicated set up for a more straightforward sequence. We decided to work with a web cam and Processing only. This accomplished the end result we were looking for and was a much more elegant solution.
                    • We used Processing and altered some open code from the Processing training site, "Fun Programming". We found a color detection code and altered it to suit our needs.

                      We added the Physics, Minum, and Syphon libraries to create the interactivity we were looking for.

                      • We wrote a poem about cyborgs with three parts. Each section corresponds to a different aspect of our art installation. Once the poem was written we recorded it with a Zoom recorder and added special effects in Logic ProX.  Then we tested the recordings with our speakers and made adjustments.
                        • We created a logo for Zahra 2215 using illustrator CS6. Next, we created a large print to introduce our art installation to gallery visitors and placed the logo for visual affect. In addition, we translated the .ai file to a .dst file in order to use the logo within a digital embroidery machine.
                          • After determining that computer vision and color detection works best with bright colors, we chose to use neon fabric to create our interactive pebbles. The pebbles will be thrown into a projection of a large pool of water. When the pebble lands, a ripple effect with sounds will be triggered.
                            • Next we created Neon bean bags with the Zahra 2216 logo with a digital embroidery machine.  We used thick canvas material to provide durability. We tested the pebbles with ultra-violet LED lights but found the projection was good enough to illuminate the neon.
                              • We used 40  magnifying plastic sheets/ Fresnel lens to create a hanging wall sculpture + 30 pound weight, transparent fishing line to hang the wall sculpture. A hole punch was used to attach a plastic frame.  We used plastic covered steel wire suspended between walls to hang it .
                                • We created a storyboard for the video to be projected onto the wall sculpture. We wanted to have close up images of eyes, shadows of a woman, and spherical scenes of nature to highlight the fresnel lens/ hologram illusion. Final Cut Pro was used to edit the video which was slowed down for effect.
                                  • We used a short throw projector to project the "Eyes" video onto the wall sculpture and a 4000 lumen Epson projector suspended from the ceiling, facing down. Extensive testing and experimentation was necessary in order to produce the desired effects.
                                    • We are currently having great difficulty getting Syphon to work correctly with MadMapper and our Processing sketch. The sketch file appears in MadMapper but within the quads. We need to further develop our code to find a solution.
                                      • We consulted with our advisors who recommended that we try a different method for our sketch. Mad Mapper and Syphon were not working with our files so again we are back to the wisdom of keeping things simple. We uploaded an image in Photoshop to appear as an organic boundary for the pond. The image
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