PCOM / Weeks 11 & 12 / Final Project: Progress Report

After play-testing Pedro’s Map we received lots of feedback and interesting ideas to improve the game, like adding psychological factors to the story, controlling our character with movable magnetic pieces instead of using hand gestures and for a reward at the end, getting a combination to open a real briefcase with a prize or martini. However, Ariana and I soon realized that our hearts weren’t into the project that it was becoming and decided to come up with another idea.

The new concept came from my ICM final project idea to create a Protest Time Machine using a small selection of political/protest songs from the 1960s to today. We were inspired by this conductive ink and projection mapping project to use conductive paint for graphic touch buttons on a large white board, or possibly a wall for a larger scale project, to trigger the song.  We also plan on animating the music lyrics mixed in with YouTube music videos, news clips and iconic photos from that moment in history using a projector.

Conductive Paint
Conductive Copper Tape
Bare Conductive Touch Board
Arduino Board
MP3s for the selection of political/protest songs
White Boards
Projection Mapping Program, MadMapper



1. Loading the songs onto the Bare Conductive Touch Screen Pad: The pad only holds 12 songs which need to be uploaded to the SD card inside the touch pad. For this prototype, we have five songs from the 60s, six from the 70s, and one from the 80s. For the finished project, we will use another touch board for an additional 12 songs to highlight music from the 80s, 90s, 00s, 10s.

2. Building the graphic touch buttons: the graphics for the buttons were built in illustrator and laser-cut to build the stencil for laying down the conductive paint. We made the mistake of using a thick foam core board, which needed to go through the laser cutter a couple of times. For the final version, we plan on using a thinner board or plastic to create a more polished and precise stencil. I also plan on customizing the silhouettes of the protestor button to the profile of the singer of the song triggered, like Bob Dylan for his Blowin In the Wind song or the profile of that particular protester, like a student’s silhouette to represent Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Ohio song about the Kent State incident.

3. Painting with Conductive Paint: We used the stencil to paint the touch buttons, but used too much paint where the outlines and fine details lost it’s shape. Not only are we planning on using a thinner board for the stencil, we need to blot the ink down for a less blotchy application and it will also allow the paint to dry quicker.

4. Connecting the painted touch buttons to the board: We decided to use conductive tape instead of painting the black lines to connect the graphics to the 12 small circles of the Bare Conductive Touch Board.

5. Testing the buttons with the board: It took a couple of tries to get the buttons to work with the board, but it could be the fact that we tested it before the paint fully dried. I saw that some buttons in the beginning of the row were not working even though they were before. When I started troubleshooting, I lifted the board and noticed the ink crossed paths with the other rows. Because if this, I needed to reapply new conductive tape to the first 4 rows to create a more secure and separate connection. I was scared to use water on the board to remove the water soluble paint, so luckily I found this tip to remove the paint from the board: scraping the paint off the board. And we need to always allow the paint enough time to try before testing it with the board.

The next steps is to add more interactivity to the project by creating animations of lyrics and imagery using map projection and connecting the touch board to an arduino. When we shared this idea of using protest/political songs for our project, there are always more suggestions on what songs should be featured. It would be great to give the participants the option to make their suggestions and incorporate it into the project somehow.

ICM / Week 10 / Final Proposal: The Protest Time Machine

In wake of the 2016 election results and all the protesting, hate crimes and uncertainty going on around the country, I wanted to take a look at the songs from the past that were written in response to the helplessness of an event with a call for action. I have a selection of iconic protest/political songs that range from anti-war sentiment to a woman’s demand for dignity to a southern man’s response to a song written about his role in slavery and racism. There is even a song that was partially influenced by a 1979 nuclear reactor accident in Pennsylvania that expresses the fear of nuclear war, zombie invasions and food shortages. What I would like to do is to revisit these songs and allow the user to access the history behind them while visualizing the lyrics in p5. I would also try to design a version for a mobile device as well. The act of listening to these songs and understanding it’s intent is a reminder or an introduction of where we’ve been and what is still relevant now.







ICM / Week 8 / Sound and Film Noir

Here’s a little sketch inspired by Film Noir movies. I found this infographic online designed by Melanie Patrick and took it apart to create this scene in p5. I still have things that I’m trying to add to the sketch, like other sounds when the detective comes in contact with the other characters, but I don’t seem to be writing my “if” and “else” statements correctly, which is something I need to work on more.

PCOM / Week 8 / Brainstorm for Finals

Now that we just finished our mid-term projects, it’s time to think of our Final project which we have 5 weeks to create. Here are some ideas that I might want to explore:

After listening to yesterday’s Applications speaker, he gave a very impressive talk about VR, but he said that we should make products for the next generation in mind, the babies now. As a mother of a toddler, my child is obsessed with the IPAD and although he learns so much on these digital devices, he has temper tantrums and gets riled up when you take it away. When I talk to other parents of older kids, we are all impressed that these 5 – 12 year olds are learning how to code with games like Mindcraft, but these parents can’t get their child away from their computers to play outside.

Although you can set timers on these devices, I’d like to make a playful alarm clock for kids that give them time limits on the IPad and IPhone to remind them to play outside, read a book, draw or to play with their physical toys. My childhood was filled with imaginary places and scenarios that I made up in my head because I would got bored in the dark ages before wi-fi. And regular play or giving them a plain cardboard box without these digital devices to constantly entertain them can open up so much imagination that the child creates in their own heads.

While looking at past ITP projects for inspiration, I loved the elegance and symbolism of this clock.
Visualizing Time: A Marble a Minute

To create a visual art piece, using camera, motion and light sensors to reveal silhouettes and lighting that you would see in a Film Noir film with high contrast black and white shapes. Some film noir movies where the shadows and light are striking to me are in films like Carol Reed’s The Third Man, John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon or Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt. When I was looking through the projects that were shown at the MOMA’s 2011 Talk to Me exhibit, I found Joon Y. Moon’s project called Augmented Shadow and would love to build off this idea for a film noir project.

PCOM / Week 7 / Mid-term Project

An interactive PCOM project that uses an accelerometer and MP3 Shield to play some surprising sounds as you turned the cube up, down, left and right. We were assigned into groups of 2 for this project and I was paired up with Yanlin Ma.

During our brainstorm for project ideas, Yanlin came up with the idea to contrast the shape of a cube with the sounds of bouncing balls. We wanted to add 3 buttons to toggle between 3 different sound types: a rubber ball, a metal ball and a wooden ball. In this iteration, I wanted to place the buttons discretely in the corner, while Yanlin preferred the button in the center with a hole for the wire to the computer or power source in the corner.



The first step in executing the idea was to get our accelerometer working to get precise sensor readings of the X, Y, Z values. Yanlin and I also worked separately in trying to get precise sensor readings on our devices, and were both having problems with our accelerometer. I was getting inconsistent readings or very slight changes in the sensor readings, so Yanlin advised me to solder the pins on my accelerometer and that worked. For sound, we needed to find or record our MP3 or WAVE sounds to map the accelerometer to. We found a site called audioblocks.com and really liked their sound effects and loops. We then decided to use MP3 files and found the MP3 shield to use with our Arduino.


For the enclosure, we wanted the box to be black acrylic. I found a place in Pennsylvania, misterplexi that sells lots of different kinds of plexi boxes in different colors. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the black boxes in stock and by the time they could ship them, it would be too late, so I ended up buying clear baseball display boxes from The Container Store and painting them with a matte black acrylic paint from Blick Paint.  Since I didn’t take a fabrication class (which I eventually should), I wanted to avoid drilling holes for switches and wires, so I decided to use a 9V battery to keep everything enclosed inside the black cube and making it easier for people to hold and move around. I soldered the red and black wires of the battery snap to wire that could plug into the power connector.







PCOM – Mid-Term Project from annemgal on Vimeo.


#include <SoftwareSerial.h>
#include "MP3.h"

/** define mp3 class */
MP3 mp3;

int up = 0;
int down = 0;
int left = 0;
int right = 0;

void setup()
  // initialize serial communication at 9600 bits per second:

  /** begin function */
  mp3.begin(MP3_SOFTWARE_SERIAL);    // select software serial
//  mp3.begin();                       // select hardware serial(or mp3.begin(MP3_HARDWARE_SERIAL);)

  // in hexadecimal
  /** set volum to the MAX */

  // signal when ready
  /** set MP3 Shield CYCLE mode */
  /** play music in sd, '0001' for first music */

  // 1: clank
  // 2: metal rolling 
  // 3: metal dropping
  // 4: rubber dropping
  // 8: ball roll
  /** play music in USB-disk */ 
  /** play music in SPI FLASH */ 

void loop()
    /** function code here */

  // read the input on analog pin 0:
  int sensorValueZ = analogRead(A0);
  // print out the value you read:

  // read the sensor:
  int sensorValueY = analogRead(A1);
  // print the results:

  // read the sensor:
  int sensorValueX = analogRead(A2);
  // p rint the results:


  /** play music in sd, '0001' for first music */

  if (up){
    if (sensorValueX < 550){
  if (sensorValueX > 550){
    if (!up){
      up = 1;
      down = 0;
      left = 0;
      right = 0;
  } else if (sensorValueX < 450){
    if (!down){
      up = 0;
      down = 1;
      left = 0;
      right = 0;
  } else if (sensorValueY > 550){
    if (!left){
      up = 0;
      down = 0;
      left = 1;
      right = 0;
  } else if (sensorValueY < 450){
    if (!right){
      up = 0;
      down = 0;
      left = 0;
      right = 1;      
  } else{
      up = 0;
      down = 0;
      left = 0;
      right = 0;    
  // 1: clank
  // 2: metal rolling 
  // 3: metal dropping
  // 4: rubber dropping


  // in milliseconds
  // slow down so p5 can keep up
  delay(100);        // delay in between reads for stability