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Press Play – Xuzhou

Press Play – Xuzhou

Tutors: William Bondin, Lin (Charlie) Zhang, Schichong Li, Sun Tong (Host)
Location: China University of Mining and Technology (CUMT), Xuzhou, China

We’ve just finished the first workshop from the ‘Press Play’ series for 2016, this time in Jiangsu Province, China. The workshop was hosted by the art and design department at the China University of Mining and Technology (CUMT), and we developed ten projects with 90 participants. I want to say a very big and sincere thanks to Charlie and Chongchong for simultaneously teaching, translating and coordinating the workshop. So here’s an overview of the results from the workshop:

Starry Sky – a reactive installation which highlights the memory of occupying a space. The installation is composed of two parts – 1. an array of ultrasonic range finders and LED strips; and 2. a free-form plastic-cup surface inspired by catenary geometry. The sensor-array is used to record people’s position underneath the plastic-cup surface, which is then stored on a microcontroller. These patterns of occupation are then played-back overtime, as a form of light performance.

starry_sky

Starry Sky – Light patterns flash in response to the visitor’s position

Starry Sky - A plastic-cup surface is suspended from a modular PVC frame.

Starry Sky – A plastic-cup surface is suspended from a modular PVC frame.

Cloudscape – Imagine a world where every single person walks around with a cloud of balloons, with each balloon storing and displaying information about their intents and desires. Using this hypothetical scenario, the students explored wearable computing as an alternative soft-interface for social communication.

Cloudscape - Over 1000 helium filled balloons were used to create the installation.

Cloudscape – Over 1000 helium filled balloons were used to create the installation.

Cloudscape - A dancer performs while wearing the 'balloon' interface.

Cloudscape – a dancer performs while wearing the ‘balloon’ interface.

Bloom – a kinetic sculpture which opens-up when someone approaches it. The mechanism is inspired by one of our all-time favourite books: 507 Mechanical Movements.

Bloom - Detail of a closed 'flower'.

Bloom – Detail of a closed ‘flower’.

Listen!: An Anthropomorphic Wall – a pixel array project composed of nine mouth-like origami structures. Each unit is equipped with an USRF sensor and a servo, which will change state if an object is detected within its’ range.

Listen! : An array of kinetic folded-modules.

Listen! : An array of kinetic folded-modules.

Listen! : Close up detail

Listen! : Close up detail

Composite Membranes – a composite surface made from flexible ‘soft’ fabric and ‘hard’ laser-cut fibreboard. The surface is actuated by 21 rack-and-pinion mechanisms, driven by servos.

Clockwork – a machine which draws time-based marks when a person approaches it. A gel-pen is held at the end of a rack and pinion mechanism, which in turn is mounted on a stepper motor. When a visitor approaches the ‘clock’, the arm rotates to display the seconds while the pen travels linearly to display the minutes. Over time, a drawing is generated based on people’s interaction with the machine over the course of an hour.

Clockwork: A generative time-based drawing machine

Clockwork: A generative time-based drawing machine

Clockwork: A rack-and-pinion mechanism is mounted onto a stepper motor.

Clockwork: A machine for marking spatial occupation in time.

Phrase Generator – an electromechanical phrase generator made from bespoke paper belts and laser-cut sprockets. Twelve chinese logograms were laser-cut onto a paper-belt and lit from behind, while an encoder ensured that the projected logogram was inline with the light source. A push-switch randomises the two logograms when pressed, to generate a random phrase.

Phrase Generator: Two machines randomise chinese characters to generate a phrase.

Phrase Generator: Two machines randomise chinese characters to generate a phrase.

Phrase Generator: An improvised switch acts as an input.

Phrase Generator: An improvised switch acts as an input.

Breathe – a reactive sculpture inspired by the puffer-fish. The geodesic sphere structure houses a number of inflatable modules, constructed out of recycled computer fans and plastic gloves. When a visitor approaches the structure, the modules inflate.

Breathe: A geodesic sphere which houses inflatable modules.

Breathe: A geodesic sphere which houses inflatable modules.

Breathe: Inflatable plastic gloves react to passers-by.

Breathe: Inflatable plastic gloves react to passers-by.

Maze – a digitally controlled version of the classic ‘wood labyrinth’ game. Four players need to co-operate to complete a maze puzzle.

Pulse – a reactive machine which deconstructs and reconstructs a heart-like cloud.

Pulse: UV-lit cloud.

Pulse: UV-lit cloud.

It is always a great pleasure teaching hard-working and creative students. Now off for a short stay in Beijing before we all return back to base.