ICM / Week 3 / Repetition with Variation

Worked with Steven Simon on this interactive sketch that implements the concept of repetition with variation and a button. When we collaborated, we worked on our own at first and came together to show each other our ideas. I had the idea of repeating triangles in different colors after being inspired by 10PRINT sketch of randomizing slanted lines.

Steven had this fantastic concept of repeating windows and using the rollover button to make the shade go up and down. With Steven’s sketch, I got a clearer picture on the differences between arrays and objects and learned some techniques he uses for debugging lines. This sketch is also a great base for adding more things, like a little yellow bird flying around (which is TK) using the ‘bouncing ball’ idea and pieces like snow falling to put the wall of windows in the context of seasons and maybe even giving a watcher a peep into what’s in a window.

PCOM/ Week 3 / Interactivity in Public

Riding the New York City subways everyday, I couldn’t help but think of the MetroCard swipers as my interactive technology to observe. There have been many times that I’ve missed a train, waiting for the person before me to swipe through the regular turnstiles or getting through the double obstacle of  a MetroCard swiper and the rib-caged revolving turnstiles.  Then there are the rough mornings where either my flimsy yellow MetroCard bent a bit on the magnetic black strip or my quick flick of a swipe was not so quick (or too quick), where it gives me the “Please Swipe Again At This Turnstile” message. My strategy in those scenarios is to wait for the 1 minute message to clear and then swipe again at the same turnstile to avoid losing money on your card or the 18 minute wait time to swipe again with the fancy Unlimited Ride MetroCards.


When observing users getting through the subway gates, you get a good sense of who is a local user and who may not be. I found that when I observed people swiping their MetroCards at our 8th Street/ NYU stop on the N and R train, not a lot of people had difficulty swiping smoothly to get that beep to “GO.”  However, when I’m at a tourist hot spot like the B, D, F and M stop at Rockefeller Center, there’s a lot of foot traffic and people fiddling around with their cards and swiping repeatedly to get through.  I’ve also witnessed some elderly people having problems, whether it being because of their eyesight of getting the thin card precisely through the slot or people swiping very slowly where the card reader tells them to swipe again.  One elderly woman that I observed was standing in front of a MetroCard ticket kiosk for over 10 minutes, trying to get a card.  Since it was taking a while and was the only machine, the 2 people in back of her were patiently assisting her. I’m not sure if there was a problem with her credit card or just figuring out card options on the touch screen.

I do think that the MetroCard turnstiles works effectively, especially when you’re a regular user and figured out the speed at which to swipe. The visibility problems, that Norman talks about in The Design of Everyday Things, could be something to improve upon in the design though and it could be just a simple line of text stating the additional instructions on the speed of a ‘smooth’ swipe (not too fast and not too slow) especially for new users. And in comparing other user interactions in similar transportation situations, I do like how the card readers on the NYC transit buses are easier to use though. It seems more user friendly cause you just dip your card in the slot, the card reader pulls it in to read the strip and then automatically pushes the card up for the user to get back. I also like the Oyster Card system in London where the cards are thicker and it’s just a quick tap on a touch pad for  gates to open up for you to pass through.


Simple Application Using Analog Input and Digital Output

Tiny Piano from annemgal on Vimeo.

ICM / Week 2 / Variables

For this week’s assignment, I was inspired by Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which I watched twice this past week after introducing the movie to my two year old son. This sketch contains an element controlled by the mouse (the Golden Ticket and the color changing background), and an element that changes over time and is independent of the mouse (the changing little circles in the background). What I would like to do to take this further is to decorate it more with the candy trees and oompa loompas. And I would also like to take a complex object, like the everlasting gobstoppers (made up of 4 different colored rectangles) and have those objects multiply and be random in the background instead of the circles. Trying to figure out how to uses arrays and maybe can use that to grab multiple shapes to group them and multiply.


I had a bit of a slow start with my ICM homework assignments the first few weeks, but I’m finding my ways to balance out the workload of all the classes. For last week’s ICM assignment, I started my drawing, but didn’t present it in class since it still needed time and work. Although it looks simple, it took me much longer to do than this week’s freer assignment. I think navigating the space without rulers on the side and figuring out the coordinates with all the little details of connecting each line precisely needed more time. I attempted to draw one of Sol LeWitt’s pieces, called Isometric Projection with code. I like how he takes simple shapes and lines and makes it complex and it took me so long to plot out the diagonal lines on top of the geometric shape and it’s not equality distant from one another on top. After this exercise, I now have a better feel for the x, y, width, height coordinates, which made it much easier for tackling the 2nd assignment. One thing that really saved some time from last week to this week was using variables with all the repeating lines.



AFTER (with use of VARIABLES)


S&V / Week 2-3 / To be Listened on a Couch with Eyes Closed


A sound piece made with Regina Cantu de Alba and inspired by Octavia Butler’s short story “Bloodchild.”

With this project, I learned to strip away the pictures that I’m so comfortable with and concentrate on tones and sounds that me and my partner recorded and later edited in Adobe Audition. I used to listen to lots of audio books with my eyes closed and would fall asleep to them. It’s an experience to focus solely on the sounds and to let the blank visual canvas of your mind wander away. And that’s hard to do nowadays when everyone is so plugged into their smart phones and social media.

Listening to the sound piece in the dark with the rest of the class and hearing the feedback was interesting. I definitely was influenced by the sound walk and Pejk Malinovski’s talk. I loved how the sounds took me on a journey and that’s what our intention was with the piece. Collaboration with Lola was also a big pleasure. Her initial interpretation of the story as ‘points of entry vs. the expected’ was our base for the emotional values that we collected in our sounds. And the freedom for both of us to explore and experiment in sound collecting and editing separately was good in combining different perspectives. Then later coming back together to combine our finds and discover things together, like recording interesting sounds in the stairwell with specials mics and chia pudding. This was all key to making a piece that we’re both happy with.

A lesson that I will take for the next sound project is to bring some sort of buffer on the Zoom to cancel out the wind when recording outside or to just take a stick mic instead for cleaner sounds with less distortion.

PCOM/ Week 2 / Electricity Labs and a Switch Project

This week I started to use my Arduino Starter kit to connect the breadboard to the microcontroller and light up my first LED diode. Had a couple hiccups when putting the resistors on the board. There were so many variations of the middle color stripes and ohm values of the resistors. And they are so tiny that it’s hard to distinguish what’s what. Luckily, my starter kit had a book with a very helpful chart on ‘How to Read Resistor Color Codes’ and decipher the math behind it. Another small problem that I ran into when uploading my code in the Arduino application was that I plugged the USB cable from the microcontroller to the wall instead of my laptop. Once I fixed that connection, my LED started blinking.

LED from annemgal on Vimeo.

For this week’s homework of putting together a simple application for switches and LED circuits, I found a sample project of connecting 3 LEDs to a push button switch and used that as the base for the coding and schematics of the assignment.


My initial idea was to make a little house and use the switches to open a door or light up a window, but it morphed into an idea seeing silhouettes through windows at night. With the base that I had, I wanted to fill the house with LED lights, so I added a couple more LED lights to the board and adjusted the code.


I then cut black paper silhouettes and taped them to the board in front of the LED lights and constructed a see through building with tracing paper to enclose the lights and paper figures.


I was contemplating whether to draw black lines for windows, but I liked the cleanness of the white walls without the window and door details.


And here’s the finished version of the LED Dance Party on a Breadboard.

Dance Party from annemgal on Vimeo.

ICM / Week 1 / Computation

The main reason why I wanted to come to ITP is to learn the programming and the design behind data art and visualization. When I was a undergrad, I liked both computer science and graphic design, but I didn’t know back then that you could combine the two so I went down the path of graphic design. My first job out of college was to collect information on bars and restaurants to input into our databases, so we could install postcard racks in those venues for advertising purposes. This job completely turned me off from advertising and marketing, but I learned that I liked sorting and filtering data. And a few years later, I went to the Visualized conference and was blown away by what data scientists at the New York Times were doing with text and information graphics that I wanted to learn how to do that. I’m pretty excited about this class because I want to draw in code and apply these concepts to typography in graphic design and data art. Over the summer, I saw Sol LeWitt’s pieces at the Dia Museum in Beacon, New York and wanted to try drawing his Isometric Projection piece with code or at least to help myself figure out the x, y, width and height coordinates on the canvas for this week’s homework. Below is something that was inspired by Sol Le Witt’s piece.



S&V / Week 1 / Passing Stranger

I chose the Passing Stranger (East Village Poetry Walk) by Pejk Malinovski as my audio tour. I lived in the East Village for almost a decade and 9th Street has a special place in my memories. I was curious to learn more about the history and poetry scene of the East Village. As a palm-sized time machine weaving me in and out of the many memories of poets like Allen Ginsberg, W.H. Auden and Frank O’Hara, the layered audio of the narrator, filmmaker Jim Jarmusch paired with the street sounds, clear walking instructions and music created such an immersive experience. There were moments where you’re standing in front of an apartment building and you can imagine seeing Jack Kerouac on the fire escape or Ginsberg sending down his keys in a sock to come up. I even climbed up the stairs to poet Anne Waldman’s 33 St. Marks Place apartment building, which is now a piercing and tattoo parlor, to see if I could figure out where they put their time capsule (of a hit of acid, a Valium, a joint and a poem) that they left behind in the late 1960s. The music on this adventure was also good in setting the tone of the time period. You feel the hipness when the Velvet Underground music plays around Cooper Square and try to figure out where Andy Warhol stood to being in that lyric jazz piece of the 1950s Beat Generation. And then you can make a turn to the Latin groove of Avenue C where you start walking to your own beat.


Since we’re in the midst of gathering our own sounds for our short piece audio project, the approach of layering different perspectives of spoken word with music and abstract sounds as done in the East Village Poetry Walk is a technique to try and have fun with. My group partner and I are also playing with the idea of taking samples from songs that best express certain feelings that we want to convey, then possibly looping and fading them together to create our own remix. This leads to that dilemma of the readings this week: influence vs plagiarism and who’s intellectual property is it? I’m a huge Bob Dylan fan and I love those songs that sound too similar to his “influences/inspirations.” But it makes me think of the huge number of Dylan covers done by successful musicians who Dylan inspired. Some of these themes are also `so common and universal that there’s bound to be a couple people thinking of the same idea (like a broken heart or love lost), and it’s just a race to see who executes it first. You can also see this acts of imitation/flattery as a way for pieces to live longer and be introduced to younger generations.

It’s also interesting to see how “blues and jazz musicians have long been enabled by a kind of “open source” culture,” as noted in Jonathan Lethem’s The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism. The whole idea of open source where people can built upon what others have built to add on to a foundation or create their own cog in the machine, sometimes collaboration with lots of different expertise can make a better product.

Back when I was living in the East Village, I was going through my own heartbreak when I saw Michel Gondry’s movie, Eternal Sunshine Of a Spotless Mind. Jon Brion’s music score of the movie really connected with me. It was melancholy but whimsical and uplifting. I was fortunate enough to see his one man show in Brooklyn the beginning of the summer and it was amazing to see him on stage laying/playing all the individual tracks together. Here’s a clip from one of his show in NY this past year of Brion covering Dylan.

PCOM / Week 1 / What makes for good physical interaction?

My first project for Physical Computing class was to create a Fantasy Device and my group came up with a device meant to communicate different languages instantly. Whether you are studying abroad and English is your second language, wanting to understand what is said in a classroom without any delays or traveling to a foreign country and immersing yourself in a culture without being lost in translation. We intended to create an earpiece that can take in the words and sounds, then process the information quickly to output in a device near the mouth that can say the words in the language specified.

If interaction is a conversation of listening, thinking and speaking (imputing, processing and outputting), differences in languages or being out of your comfort zone can slow down interaction. With the help of devices for digital interaction, it can help fill in those gaps of slow listening, slow thinking and slow speaking for faster processing time or other platforms to converse remotely if face to face conversations scares you and it helps to participate in your comfort zone.

But when I watched the ‘Vision of the Future’ video in Bret Victor’s rant on the Future of Interaction Design, my immediate thought was that the future was so well designed with clean, translucent interfaces to help organize travel, work, design, collaboration, family, time management, donating with a click of a button, learning and making decisions in seamless ways—how wonderful! Then I started thinking about how we kind of have the foundations behind all this already. Real life looks and is more chaotic and we have numerous apps spread out and so many different companies wanting us to log all of our information into their sites to help us ‘manage’ our lives. Reading Bret Victor’s viewpoint on ‘the future’ made me realize that we’ve forgotten the tactile quality of things because swiping our fingers and hands on our phones and Ipads have become the norm. We’ve forgotten about some of our five human senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.

I recently visited the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum to take my 2-year old son to the Pixar exhibit and I was pretty impressed with the hands-on exhibits and wands that could be used to scan barcodes next to the art pieces that you liked and want to revisit. Although the wands are similar to the swiping of our finger on the glass interfaces, it responds back to you in a way that it can help store the overwhelming amount of images that you see and allows you to collect and save images of the art that caught your eye for after you leave the museum. The wands are also used as stylus on the huge interactive tables to engage more with the digitized art pieces. These physical interactions with the exhibit made it easy for a 2-year old to participate in and hold his attention.


Physical interaction is and should be a conversation that engages one another with any or all of our 5 senses to delight and enhance our dialogue with one another.