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.