Category Archives: writing

pcom final: progress!

This week, time spent playing with dissected webcam…

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…and trying to embed it in a cardboard box. It didn’t work too great:

  • Confirmed a 1-foot throw distance, which felt unwieldy.
  • Underneath lighting is too dark for computer eyes
  • Lighting reflects off the plastic.

So instead, a pivot from under-neath camera to overhead one:

Suspending with a braided wire works ok, but the camera is subject to rotating in space. Danny suggests a clamp-able rod.

I need to tweak the code so that the virtual grid aligns better with the lego grid.


I sketched out an idea for a “recording” interface I liked. Here’s my to-do list for next week, which includes building that and creating a nice wood enclosure for the whole thing:

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icm final ✨✨

The last two weeks have been tough for me on many levels. I decided to pivot my final project from sandwiches. I got some great feedback on that project, but just not enough time to flesh it out the way I want.

For this week (our last week), I instead built out a virtual version of my pcomp project, which is a lego music sequencer. Some of the functional code I had already written last week.

Here’s the working prototype (which is sure to keep changing!)

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I was at first avoiding merging ICM + pcomp for a long time, because I don’t feel like this project, as a browser game, totally stands on its own as a satisfying interaction. Still, this was actually one of the most challenging things I’ve coded so far in ICM. I feel pretty proud, and I learned so much from the experience.

I was up for at least 8 hours in Bobst, where it’s climate-controlled to keep you AWAKE. M2M chocolate and tea kept me going through the wee hours…

The process really pushed me to be very deliberate, detailed, and creative with my debugging. I was working with several layers of storing information…

  • built-in 1D pixel color array ([r,g,b,a])
  • analyzing a 2D brickArray (based on x,y coordinates, incremented out per brick width and height)
  • asking the 2D brickArray if each index item was more red, green, yellow, or blue based on a ratio of [r] vs [g] vs [b]
  • based on color, storing values “R” “Y” “B” “G” as strings into a 2D “songArray”
  • interpreting strings and playing corresponding sounds
  • stepping through a column of sound at a time, based on frameCount% intervals

Some stills from that late night:

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Setting up an array of brick colors… why is it not working?? Ah, because I used “push()” incorrectly.

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Finally, console is telling me where each brick is on the grid. Took a while to make sure “x,” “y,” columns and rows were aligned and not reflecting on the wrong axis.


If the sound was successfully stored, it would tell me in the console. (see: “BLUE, beatbox @ x2, y6”)

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When experimenting with p5 pixels, I wrote a function to draw a rectangle for each unit to make sure the computer was seeing the image.


Here I was experimenting with pixels, to see if p5 could read the blue lego image as “on top of” the white grid image.”

When we tested it in class, my tester got the premise of it pretty easily. People liked the idea. Here were the questions I posed:

  • What do you think a physical experience offers that this one doesn’t? and vice versa?
  • Imagine you can record your own sounds. How long do you think you would play with this before getting bored?
  • What kind of sounds would you like to hear?

The “found sounds” aspect really appealed to people. Mimi asked me to consider if “playing with legos” is the main interaction, or “building music.” Someone suggested screaming lego people…


sandwich side note:

Here’s some of the feedback I got from user-testing my sandwich prototype. I would love to continue this sometime, maybe during J-term? I have too many ideas!

  • “professionalism” section really made people think about their personal definitions
  • people chuckled when they were defining “sandwiches” 
  • introduction felt a little long/text-heavy (for some, not all)
  • because it’s modeled after a work test, you want to just get it over with (for some)
  • the ending was confusing. needed resolution. more frustrating than communicating a lack of agency (“I would think your code was broken”)
  • user-testing prototype worked really well!


💥💥 cybernetics, etc 💥💥

Some messy thoughts quoted from + inspired by the cybernetics hangout yesterday.
(It was amazing!!!)

Public optimism
Private sadness

Getting in touch with inner monologue
Looking for freedom
And then I look at Twitter and it’s gone again

Paiks moving dot
Text editor as a game?
Find edges of “designer” intention

User as a passive role
Designer as an elite role

What do users do? So they just use? How do they verb?
There’s a fluidity here between how people contribute and also consume. why is compartmentalizing useful here?

What do I do other than use? What are alternative roles with more agency, more nuance?
Nouns and verbing, both.
Continue reading

momotaro the peach boy

Kellee Massey and I are working together on our After Effects Animation project.

We spent the afternoon on Tuesday looking at lesser known folk-tales from around the world. Stories from Japan, China, West Africa, and North American Lenape origin…

We were both inspired by this famous folk story in Japan, that’s lesser known in the west. It’s called Momotaro, and it’s a classic adventure narrative where a young gifted boy (born out of a peach, mind you) befriends talking animals to go and defeat a greater evil.

Story summary on Wikipedia

Here’s our initial story board:


We’re using these illustrations by Eigorou Futamata:

take 3.png

And in photoshop, separating out the different components:

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Here’s the original video we’re sourcing images from:




Last week in Animation, we were tasked with creating a 30 second stop motion film. I missed the first class and took this project on solo. 8 hours of filming and editing later…


For the past year or so, I’ve been thinking a lot about how consumer products and appliances have completely abstracted away the planet Earth. Provenance is rendered almost invisible–or is at least totally abstract– and we buy products which somehow magically materialize in warehouses.

Sometimes I look at my phone or computer and I’m astounded that this thing is made out of stuff on Earth.

I’ve been mesmerized by projects like this one:


thomas thwaites attempts to build a toaster “from scratch”

….and admiring phrases like this one:

Software is enchanted sand and crystals written by haunted meat. (src: unknown)

….and writing things in this vein:

on future geologies

Industries scoop back into the story like a spoon, ladling the story that is stone was once light and turning it into a deconstructed pile of syntax, rubbing out the lexicon of rocks, of crystals, of oils, life, melting down the chapter book of planetary history to create a crude vocabulary of things which can be assembled easily on stockroom shelves.

Thousands of stones that were once light and heat fill your home: this spoon, this bulb, this double decker panini press. Some became computers.

These appliances you hold in your hand– they have no interest in storytelling. They are new grammars, existing in isolation; chemically bizarre.

Once upon a time, there was a barcode.

How will it all read, in ten thousand years? When all is piled into an appendix of things we don’t understand, with no beginning and no end—waiting to turn into fire?


I had this image of cooking as a process for transforming raw material into things. Tree into paper, sand into glass… then escalating quickly into Smartphone, which could very well be made of misc. mineral ores, metals…

On Saturday, J and I walked around the playground/park near my house, and I gathered loads of sticks and rocks. I got some fun acrylic rocks from the local fish store:


I was so focused on filming I didn’t take any process shots. A couple thoughts:

  • using a tripod is challenging!
  • how to optimize filming flow between many angled shots
  • i only storyboarded this in my head. how much surprise/fluidity in the process would “real” storyboarding have done?
  • focus check on Dragon Frame is so helpful

I tried to switch up the angling to emphasize different actions.
Some stills from side angle shots:

Screen Shot 2017-11-08 at 5.43.32 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-08 at 5.44.02 PM

Some stills from top angle:  (cooking, looking in)

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Here’s everything when filming was done:


I’m really happy with how this came out. For the future: I had this idea to play the film backwards too, which might have some nice poetic effect.

words are trojan horses

ranting to a friend about words, abridged version. [references @ the end]








on monolinguism + framing inversions:

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on carnism + framing inversions:


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(you can also see how many MORE search results for veganism versus carnism. this could be for a number of reasons. but see that we don’t even have a vocabulary for the “default choice,” because we’ve never had to think of it as a choice?)

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on rape culture + passive voice

on “bad words”
(linked to start @ halfway)

language is a technology. words are POWER! 🔥🔥

there are so many more examples of this in the world. If you have any to share, pls message me here or via facebook, if we’ve connected on there!! I would love to hear from others on this.

icm final: work + art + sandwiches 🍞


I want to design a p5.js game where you are in charge of deciding what a sandwich is… and eventually you are in charge of larger definitions too, like what art is, and what work is.

work? art?

I’ve raved a lot about this Ursula Le Guin piece by now…. which has been sitting in my mind and igniting all sorts of things for the past year.

It’s such a good read.

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about words. What they mean, how they define and restrict human activity, how they create dominant culture, how they exclude groups from power

I focus on this quote from Le Guin specifically, since it sums up well what I want to illustrate.

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So what even is work? How are we parameterizing these words—words which are NOT objective whatsoever but often designed like gated gardens?

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why sandwiches?

Before sandwiches, there was soup (probably, this is broadly true.)

I played this game last week called Something Something Soup Something, where you play an alien entity tasked with serving humans soup. Only, you don’t know what humans think is soup!

You have the very grand responsibility of defining what soup-ness is.

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As I was playing this game, I thought of how people on the internet have been debating what sandwiches are.

Is a hot dog a sandwich?

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The discussion has become so intense (lol) that people have created charts like this to navigate your sandwich philosophy personality type.

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Is a sandwich defined just as substrates A, between substrates B?
If no, then what?

the segue

Somehow (somehow), I’m going to transition from asking people about whether something is a sandwich… to asking if a sandwich qualifies as art.

Screen Shot 2017-11-08 at 3.27.41 PM

And what about making sandwiches? Is it work?Screen Shot 2017-11-08 at 3.27.48 PM

I want to escalate to increasingly domestic and “non-work” tasks until the player might even think it’s absurd.

I’m reminded of an exhibit at the Whitney called, The History of Protest Art. I haven’t seen, but I would love to.

As one protest, an “artist” invited people to do an activity for an hour, like walking, surfing the internet, eating a snack, and call it “ART.”

So, it ought to be as mundane and as everyday as those tasks. But I would like there to be a tilt towards economics, gender… economics of gender.

Custodians, lunch ladies, construction workers as artists, for instance.