The student's work should demonstrate, for instance, the use of digital media in combination with other processes, analogue or digital, that results in an innovative or digitally explorative solution to a self initiated or set brief.
Peter was a dedicated teacher and colleague who is affectionately remembered by LCC staff and his many alumni. He was passionate about teaching and ensuring that his students had the best educational experience possible. Peter also maintained a professional practice alongside his teaching, both as a respected professional in digital media training and as a freelance consultant, digital designer and illustrator, working with a variety of high profile clients.
This prize is offered in recognition of Peter’s devoted service to the College and the School
In electronics, a breadboard is
an outlet for building electronic circuits featuring rows of
holes that enable you to connect components together. It’s the geometric equivalent of a blank canvas, a simple object with the capacity to realise intricate
ideas. When used with an Arduino,
the breadboard becomes a powerful tool for live data collection through a variety of inputs called sensors, which can be anything from a thermometer to a magnetic field detector. Sensors work by reducing the amount of electrical current that passes through them; it’s how the data is interpreted that enables us to make sense of the readings.
My ‘Encoded Object’ project adapts this concept to the field of design through a generative system; taking an initial input and running it through a process of reduction in order to create the desired outcome.
I wrote a program that accepts an image as the input material, then categorises and recreates the RGB pixel data into generative design. Because the breadboard matrix is comprised of 300 modules, the 300 most common colours in each image are visualised through a series of proportionately sized squares assorted over the canvas (relating to occurrence). The second element was to produce a set of instructions alongside our outcomes; I decided to implement both elements into one design, inspired by the functionality of my object and the reductive concept I explored throughout the project. Using a paper folding technique that doubles as a booklet and a poster, the cover features the source image before the encoding process—the following pages explain the concept and the process, which then fold out into the full poster displaying the result.
I extended my project specifically for this award submission, adding an interactive element to the design. The final outcomes represent how electrical current is reduced as it passes through the breadboard, so I decided to physically incorporate the object into the design. I hooked up a rotating dial to an Arduino and linked it to the computer—the dial then controls the amount of pixels that are generated in the final result.
There are multiple different directions that I could take to extend this project. It would be really interesting to include more interactivity; the small addition that I made with the dial is just a flavour of what could be done— there are many different sensors that could be incorporated, or I could create a physical generative object rather than static posters. Another direction I’d like to take would be to expand the code to accept different inputs—instead of generating design from a single image; it could scan a webpage or a collection of websites for example.
The project aim is to understand the idea of digital materiality and how software cannot be seen. Digital materiality is electrical signals and code, it has no tangible matter, therefore we cannot physically interact with it. I wanted to render visible the invisible and to understand digital memory/ storage as a physical form.
It began with the exploration of a USB flash-drive as a data-sharing concept. I experimented with the composition and hardware of the object by deconstructing it, physically and digitally. I wanted to understand its idea of storage and what it looked like and what happened when we treated memory as an object. If people had a certain amount of ‘digital storage/memory’, what would they choose to store on it? If we had a capacity of a certain amount of “memories”, how much and what would they be? This particular piece is 15.2MB of an 81.2MB song that was performed by my grandma almost 50 years ago. The file is sentimentally valuable and in ways, a memory shared by my family.
The song is converted into binary via a terminal; then the binary data is converted to images in Processing, in which 6 bits is grouped into RGB pixel colour values. The binary data is portrayed into an image file and can be decoded back to the original binary code.
The idea of rendering visible the invisible to understand digital memory/storage, looks at how storage works and the physical piece is an analogy of storing files within a limited space. The piece is 29.7cm x 500cm. To create the whole 81.2MB song in this format, I would have to make it almost 5 times as long, which is nearly 25 meters. The prize would allow me to install new software, allowing me to expand the boundaries of my project, which would make it possible to visualise larger digital files and to experiment with printing to a much larger scale.
This piece also comes with a set of instructions which allow you to convert any file of your choice into a binary RGB image. This is a process based design: I’ve created a piece of code that creates visual responses through algorithms.
Identity Drawing Machine:
An individual's external identity is formed through the mapping of everyday experiences, conscious and subconscious decisions. Using a machine to visualize the personal data that forms this external identity, reduces the possibility of subjectivity, taste and aesthetics being applied to control its appearance. The drawing machine draws with pinpoint accuracy unlike the human hand and presents a dispassionate graphical narrative of the individual.
Exploring new territory for my final major project has been incredibly challenging yet rewarding. Although it’s been a lot of pressure and quite a big risk in taking on such a different avenue, I found that it has led me to a stage where I now have a direction to follow when I graduate. I plan to take what I have learned into my future work and to stay in contact with the people who have shown interest in working with me on projects similar to this.
Winning the Peter Cannings Award would allow me to develop this project further by allowing me to afford the devices to take this project and use it to record the external identity of other participants. Using the original rationale, I could create a new series of work where my machine maps out the external identity of people from all different walks of life, telling stories through my designed machine. As well as the devices needed to record the data I could use the prize to put the project in a show with an accompanying website that features the stories of different people through my designs.
The Interactive typography piece was my response to the ‘Material Type: Physical Language’ brief. The task was to pick a phrase related to art and design and then create a physical outcome that enhances the viewer’s understanding of the message. The interactive board is a representation of Neville Brody’s words “Digital design is like a painting, except the paint never dries”. Since the quote literally means that digitally generated pieces are changeable, the aim was to create something that could be constantly changed by the people who use it. Another aim was to motivate them to start creating their own outcomes, and that was how
the idea of interactive typography appeared. The initial plan was to make all of the triangles interactive, so they could lighten up when touched, but unfortunately because of the lack of time and reduced budget this was not possible at
the moment. The decision was made to reduce interactive elements to 12, instead of 336 (as it would require to make the grid fully interactive) and use only the words from the original quote.
Since the piece was meant to be used to create as many variations of type as possible, I experimented with various geometrical shapes (squares, circles, rhomboids and others) by giving those to different people and analyzing which one works better in terms of quantity and legibility of the letterforms. The best examples were made with squares and triangles (squares cut in half) and that influenced the look of the grid for the final work.
One of the challenges I faced was how to make it happen, as before I had had no experience with any physical interaction. The research showed that there were 2 ways of doing it: one was to use projections, and the other one involved making buttons that would trigger LED lights inside. To make it I used TouchBoard connected to conductive inks, screen printed onto the square plate. In addition, I had to make my own wires, as the ones that came with crocodile clips were too sensitive and simply shared the same signal, so a button would trigger a wrong projection.
The project is a good starting point and doubtlessly it is far away from its final version. My personal goal is to complete the initial idea and get all of the 336 (or even more) pieces interactive. In addition, I believe that digital interactive design could be not only great for attractive and advertising content, but it has a huge potential to be used across different sites to educate people and encourage their creative potential. I would spend the given money for finishing this project, so it could be decently presented outside of the LCC. In addition, I would invest in other Interactive based ideas intended to democratize technologies for the average people. Although my piece is just a small student project, the experience I got will be incorporated to make more changes in the creative (and other) environment. All in all, we are the ones that are able to change the world for the better future.
I started off by deconstructing the data from my chosen object, which was of a precious opal. I decided to focus on the nano-structure of the opal and how it creates the play of colour you see within it. This led me onto to experimenting with light as a medium to create the colour spectrum, and then I started experimenting with RGB channels with image processing.
When I got to the stage in the project where I had to encode the opals' data into an object I looked into speculative design (based on the book Speculative Everything by A. Dunne and F. Raby) to create instructions that could potentially be used in the future, so I combined my research into holograms (using RGB nano particles) with my knowledge of the opals nano-structure to create a design fiction research paper, which would explain how in the future we could potentially use this information to generate a high-definition hologram of ourselves for identity verification purposes which would be set within a 'smart ring'.
I created prototypes of what the smart rings could look like and also an animation to show the reconstruction of the RGB particles to create a hologram image of myself.