Finishing up! Unit 2 Assessment complete

28 06 2010

I have just completed the Unit 2 Assessment of this project. It’s a week early but as show build starts tomorrow I don’t imagine ample amounts of time for writing. Fingers crossed that the installation all works out!

To view the Unit 2 Assessment please go to the top tab or link here:

The Installation Plan: Curatorial Notes

28 06 2010

This post briefly describes the installation plan and covers only the physical elements of the installation. For further information about the artistic content, concepts and context regarding the installation please link to ‘Conceptual Elements of the Installation: Curatorial Notes’ (

The installation will be comprised of a suitcase and a floating screen. Interactive moving-images/films will be projected on the screen.

Installation Plan

The screen will be of a light but sturdy acrylic containing a frosted section that will act as a semi-opaque surface for which the projected moving-image will be shown. As a result, the films will be visible from both the front and back of the screen and installation.

Display Projected on Glass Case- Horniman Museum

As the installation is situated in the middle of the room without access to wall space, the screen will be hung from the ceiling via wires or chains. Special attention will be paid when installing the screen to adhere with the college’s safety regulations. The screen will be mounted to the ceiling by boards. These boards will be affixed to the ceiling with Unibond’s ‘Forget Nails’ Adhesive. The total weight of the screen and wires will not exceed 3kg which will not present an issue for this adhesive.

Waterproof Forget Nails Adhesive

The screen will be situated near the entrance of the room as this will be the darkest area of the lit room and will take advantage of its 360 degree visability.

Floor Plan

View of space from entrance (screen area)

View of installation (suitcase side)

An inexpensive, generic, black, ‘check-in’ sized suitcase will be placed further down the room and will contain a sub-woofer and microphone. These two devices will require leads/cables to run out of the suitcase. These leads will be taped down to ensure they do not present a tripping hazard to the public.

Predominant features of this suitcase are its weight and the sound being emitted from within it. At around 33kg, the suitcase will surpass standard airline baggage allowances. Furthermore, the suitcase will continually be emitting a low frequency heartbeat sound.

There will be a plinth in a discreet part of the installation containing both a digital projector and a computer. The leads from the suitcase will run into the plinth. Three electrical leads will run from the plinth to the nearest electrical outlet. As with the suitcase, all leads from the plinth will be taped down to ensure they do not present a tripping hazard to the public.

Black and white stripes will be painted on the floor for the purpose of visually connecting the floating screen to the suitcase. These lines will resemble that of a zebra crossing in thickness.

The total floor space the installation will occupy is 1.5m x 4.5m.

Conceptual Elements of the Installation: Curatorial Notes

27 06 2010

This post briefly describes the conceptual elements of the planned installation. For a detailed physical description of the installations please link toThe Installation Plan: Curatorial Notes’ (

The conceptual elements of this installation are centered around themes that digitally express transnational realities of the Philippine-London diaspora. These themes are evident when describing several key elements of the installation.

Moving Images/Films

The installation will contain an interactive moving-image display that is comprised of two projected films alternating between each other.

The primary film in the installation is comprised of two videos and one moving digital montage. Each of these three elements are displayed simultaneously as three horizontal bars of colour. The red, amber and green of these bars relate to the colours of a traffic signal. Although meant to resemble the Philippines, all the images and footage in this film are from London’s Earls Court. This film references the movement of people. The colours of the traffic signal allude to urban intersections and the movement and waiting that exists around them. Intersections are locations of transition that serve as a metaphor to the immigrant integration process.

When thinking of ‘home’, both displacement and integration from the host culture (London) are predominant factors. Certain times when integration is smooth and ‘green’, London can be seen as a new home to immigrant communities. Other times when things are at a standstill and ‘red’, home becomes a reminder of displacement. Most of the time diaspora communities are in transition between integration and displacement. The amber bar is a digital montage that shows transition and refers to the Philippine community of Earls Court. Images in the amber bar are evidence of the Philippines in London- elements of an old home in the new one.

The secondary film is of a popular Philippine saying that talks to migration and the importance of rootedness. Ang hindi marunong tumingin sa pinaggalingan ay di makakarating sa paroroonan” (He who does not know to look where he came from will never get to his destination). The film will alternate between the English and Tagalog (Filipino) versions of this proverb.

Sketch of suitcase

The suitcase is a physical link between the transnational and the digital. An object of international travel, the suitcase will be packed to capacity with common items typical of moving. Pieces of the home that just can’t be left behind will make this suitcase uncommonly heavy. Objects in the suitcase will include articles of sentiment and practicality: clothes, picture albums, food, books etc. In this way the suitcase and its contents are an artifact of a diaspora’s narrative from displacement to integration.

Furthermore the suitcase will be the location of digital interactivity in the installation. Amdist the articles of ‘home’ will be a low frequency subwoofer and a contact microphone. The speaker will be playing a looped heartbeat sound to reference the saying ‘Home is where the heart is’. The microphone will pick up the sounds in the suitcase and the ambient sounds around the installation. These sounds will be translated into number streams into a computer program (created in Pure Data) which will cause an interactive playback of the films.

When the environment is relatively silent, the moving image projection will rhythmically pulse with the bass of the heartbeat. With every throb of the heartbeat, the primary film (traffic signal theme) will also fade slightly to show the secondary film (Filipino proverb). When the external environment is noisy (or if the suitcase is moved considerably) the primary film will pulse erratically and the secondary film will be less evident. For further information regarding the Pure Data patch that allows for this interactivity please link to:

Of further consideration to this project is the practice of a Web 2.0 ethos. Borderless collaboration and the culture of non-proprietary information sharing are philosophies that are in line with emergent digital and transnational communities. Consequently, the engine behind the installation’s interactivity was created by open source programming with the help of the open source community. Furthermore, all of the research and findings that have emerged from this project are openly available online for free, public use.

Problems with mounting to the ceiling!

23 06 2010

I just came back from a meeting with the cohort where we discussed a number of administrative things regarding the show. One very relevant piece of information regarding my installation is that the ceiling is concrete! I can’t believe I didn’t notice this in all the visits I made to the site. Apparently it’s very difficult to drill into the concrete and it will require further permissions from the college. What a nightmare! As per some suggestions from a colleague (thanks Esmerelda) I will try using some glue to solve the problem.

Waterproof Forget Nails Adhesive

This super glue is described on the Wickes website as:

  • Waterproof
  • Multi-purpose gap filling adhesive
  • Will bond two non-porous materials
  • Bonds wood, metal, brick, glass, plaster, ceramics & plastics
  • Even bonds under water
  • Has inital high grab and sets to form an extremely high strength bond
  • Will bond when the surfaces to be joined are wet through and even in the pouring rain
  • Ideal for internal and external applications
  • Can be overpainted

I will most likely glue a board to the ceiling to give me a surface on which I can drill into. I figure it should all hold given the screen will be quite light. I just hope it passes saftey inspection.

Figuring out some bits and bobs: Parts of the Installation

22 06 2010

Today was spent visiting my local DIY hardware store to figure out what materials I will need for the installation. The main purpose of this visit was to figure out how I’m going to make this floating screen for the projector work.

So far I’ve come up with 3 options:

1. An acrylic sheet

Acrylic Sheet from Wickes, Size: 1220mm x 600mm x 2mm

Advantages: Light weight and therefore not terribly dangerous (as judged by my ‘would I drop this on my bare foot?’ test). It’s easy to affix mounts to the acrylic as one can easily drill holes into it. It looks like glass.

Disadvantages: It comes in an odd shape and could be very difficult to cut as I do not have access to a table/band saw. Acrylic scratches easily and would look quite unsightly when marred. It has the tendency to bend and buckle a bit (a thicker sheet would probably avoid this problem but would add tremendously to the overall weight and possible risk of injury). The cost of this sheet, although not prohibitive is in the medium range of my options.

2. Twin Wall Polycarbonate

Twin-Wall-Polycarbonate, Size: 2.5m x 700 x 10mm

Advantages: The cheapest, lightest and safest of all my choices! I would not only drop this on my foot, I wouldn’t mind if this fell on my head as my 17 month old son can cause more damage than this plastic sheet. Because of its reinforced panels it maintains a beautiful flat shape. It can be easily cut with a hand saw and it is very easy to drill into for mounting purposes.

Disadvantages: The panels in the polycarbonate cause for very distracting and unavoidable lines throughout the sheet.

3. Full Frame Bath Screen

Bath screen, of course I will remove the unsightly white frame and fixings before using. Size: 1375mm x 750mm

Advantages: Beautiful, beautiful glass! The cut/size is appropriate. It is less likely to scratch. I am currently in need of some home improvement in my bathroom (just kidding)

Disadvantages: Beautiful glass is lovely to look at but gets ugly quite quickly when broken. This option runs the most risks in installation and crowd viewing. Glass is also quite heavy and could prove to be quite difficult to affix to a ceiling. This is also the most costly of my options.

I’m leaning towards the medium priced acrylic sheet option as I just can’t get over the distracting lines in the polycarbonate and I think that glass will just prove to be too dangerous to work with.

Other things I looked at today were spring toggles for mounting to the ceiling, wires and/or chains for hanging the screen as well as different ways in which I can affix the screen to these wires/chains. So far I figure that I can either drill holes in the screen (to thread a wire through) or use angle brackets bolted to the screen.

I’m going to let all these options sit for a few days and hopefully my subconscious creative mind will digest these choices and give further direction. I’ve found that this method of taking a break from my work when pivotal decisions must be made under pressure allow for needed reflection (however short) and actually save time. Fingers crossed… may the answers come by show build!

Spring toggle for mounting to ceilings

Angle Brackets for attaching screen to a chain (brackets will be folded around the screen and bolted together)

Galvanized welded chain: light weight but strong

Garden Wire: substitute for chain, lighter and easier to affix to screen via holes but also less aesthetically pleasing

Unit 2 Essay

21 06 2010

Please link below to read the final draft of my Unit 2 Essay:

Unit 2 Essay: A final synthesis, evaluation and reflection of the MA Project

Final programming refinements

17 06 2010

I’ve been working through some final refinements to the Pd patch that I will be using for the installation. My main concern was determing a way to adjust the ambient noise versus heart beat noise in my audio interactive installation. Basically, I wanted to be sure that the heartbeat sound didn’t dominate over the ambient noise and vice versa when causing the moving image to pulse. After a couple of intense days with Ed Kelly from the London College of Communication I now have this final revision of the Pd patch!

Some recent and notable additions to this patch include an ambient sound calibrator and an audio playing object that allows for tempo and pitch adjustment of the heartbeat. The ‘wiring’ of this patch is now set up a little differently. My previous versions of this program had a direct link between the pulse of the videos and the audio that came in from the microphone. I added a ‘metronome’ and ‘drunk’ object to a’translateXYZ’  object to create a simple zoom effect on the videos that zoomed in depending on the pitch of the sounds the mic picked up. This was effective in a quiet space when all one heard was my looped heartbeat sound, but I knew the installation would be noisy at times which could cause the video to shake erratically.

With some key guidance and advice the patch now wires a direct number stream from the heartbeat wav file so that it doesn’t have to pass through the mic (brilliant idea Ed, and no, I don’t think this is cheating). I’ve kept the mic audio input part of the patch but have lessened its influence on the video through a set of objects that auto-calibrate for ambient sound (thank you for all your help with this one too Ed). Also, the fade between the videos is now linked to the heart beat sound directly. In effect what will happen is that the noisier the ambient sound is the less of video 2 (the text) you will see, that is until the auto-calibration kicks in. If it is silent or if noise levels maintain at a steady hum, the text will pulse and become more legible. If ambient noise is erratic all you will see is the video 1 (the traffic light themed images) pulsing with the heart beat and loud sounds in the environment.

Another thing that is newly added is adjustability to the patch’s sensitivity so that when I set up the installation I can digitally fiddle around with things until I have the output as I would like. My previous plan was to fiddle around with the position of the mic and speakers but this way allows for more fine tuning. In the end, I can still adjust the hardware side if I so choose 😉

I’ve also worked out how to eliminate the choppiness in the playback of the videos. I changed the compression of the video to  H.1263 codec which suits Macs and I reduced the file size by opting not to go HD. As a result the video plays better and is more reactive to sound. My previous videos were using 324% of my CPU (when running the program) and I have now reduced that to 36%!

I have also resolved a simple way to show the video fullscreen. I will set up using two screens: 1. my work screen  and 2. the projector screen. I’ll link the two screens on Pd then simply drag the video window into the projector screen. After that I can unplug my work screen and all that will be left is the playing video. Voila!

Hope this all makes sense. My head is still reeling from the stuff I picked up from the last two days with Ed!