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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Operation of the Subface ‘Behind Creation’

Operation of the Subface ‘Behind Creation’


‘Behind Creation’ is a set of iterations that operates on the subface, ‘Damage behind Creation’, we as designers set to discover and develop our project upon. Frieder Nake defines subface as a space that is the opposite of surface, where things are non-evident. Taking the screen as an example, ‘the display buffer is the subface’ (Nake, 2008).

Designer Wei-Lin came from a classical music background, Jaehyeong came from a spatial and graphic design background, and Miltos came from an architecture and engineering background. We were interested in the different creation process from our very different backgrounds, where we discovered that physical and non-physical damage plays a crucial role behind creations. The relationship between damage and creation defines a very fine balance that individually without the other, one cannot fully display its beauty.


Behind Creation discovers the subface, ‘Damage behind Creation’, through various prototypes. We began our concept with a chart of an artist’s creation process from input to output and developed our prototypes based on this structure.

Initially, we discussed different creation processes, such as a sculptor creating a sculpture and a luthier building an instrument. What fascinates us about sculpting and instrument-building is the debris, wood dust, and tested-strings that come alongside the process. The creation is not as substantial without all these different forms of damage that come with it.

During our prototyping, we tested different damaging forces to further our understanding of the relationship between damage and creation. We also re-purposed electronics, objects, and wastes that resonate with our subface, where these damaged objects are being used as a creation material.

Our project Bitmap Choir operates on the subface by reflecting upon the inevitable damage during COVID-19. Social damage leads us to build a creative way of communication.

Development Timeline

‘Behind Creation’ Prototype 1.0

Prototype 1.0 – Structure Plan View

Prototype 1.0 – Isometric Detail

‘Behind Creation’ Prototype 2.0

Prototype 2.0 – Structure Plan View

Prototype 2.0 – Isometric Detail

‘Behind Creation’ Prototype 3.0

Prototype 3.0 is an improvement and extension of the previous iterations. It’s a pixelated plaster wall that visualizes coastal erosion data. Coastal erosion contains a set of different natural forces acting as artists sculpting coastal lines into mesmerizing sculptures.

We kept the concept of re-purposing objects by using relay’s on and off motion as a damaging tool and a sound creating module. The percussive sound created from plaster-hitting motion gives an immersive environment for the observers. We also re-purpose workshop waste, such as wood dust and lathe scraps as mixtures for plaster molding.

3.0 is set to visualize coastal erosion data by demonstrating it with pixelated plaster as a map for a specific physical location. The pixelated design of 3.0 also reflects upon the digital era, where pixels are the representation of our virtual world.

In this prototype, one of the focuses is on compiling the process of damage to the creation in a non-linear way. Prototype 2.0 was designed in a linear structure, where it showcases the steps from input to output. We wanted 3.0 to be an installation that performs the same experience without seeing the process step by step.

We also aim to create dramatic moments by using large quantities of small damaging modules. This plaster-hitting motion builds up dramatic tension until it breaks that reveals the mechanism behind. This breaking moment demonstrates our understanding of the balance between damage and creation. Without the damaging process, creation is nonexistence.

Bitmap Choir (‘Behind Creation’ 4.0)

Bitmap Choir – Revising Subface

The Bitmap Choir is a co-op game that reflects upon the COVID-19 outbreak. We are developing upon our subface, Behind Creation, and re-evaluating the relationship between damage and creation during this unprecedented time.

We redefined physical damage in the previous iterations to social damage the world is experiencing during various measures of lockdowns. We then discovered, new ways of communication are being created during this social damage.

The game is our contribution to creating a new and creative way of communication by incorporating music-creating processes with a natural instrument humans are born with, voice. We extracted the beauty of band, orchestra, and choir, where musicians come together to create music as a community. We set to bring this unique experience to people with or without prior musical training.

The experience of going to a band, choir, or orchestra concert is irreplaceable by any other art form; nevertheless, being a part of this music-creating process is a fascinating outlet for people, especially during this global pandemic. The Bitmap Choir aims to provide a platform for people to express and communicate without a language barrier.

Bitmap Choir – From Damage to Creation

Due to different measures of lockdowns around the globe, humans are developing new ways to socialize. Traditional face-to-face socialization is being transplanted into the virtual world.

The Bitmap Choir enhances the pixelated plaster wall concept from Prototype 3.0, by addressing our communication transplantation. The virtual world is structured and presented by pixels in our everyday communication devices, cellphones and computers. The only way to indicate humans’ socialization during lockdown is by analyzing the usage of microphones and cameras on communication devices. Therefore, we created a game that uses the microphone as the input.

During the period of various lockdowns and social distancing, individuals are isolated in a specific 3D space. We looked at this isolated 3D space as isolated blocks, and each block is acting as one single module around the globe. We then extracted the idea of using many modules to create a dramatic moment in Prototype 3.0 into The Bitmap Choir. We wanted to bring these isolated blocks together by harmonizing them with music.

Bitmap Choir – Conceptual Drawing

People around the globe are communicating virtually, where large group meetings and socialization are taken online and presented in a grid of individual’s face and their room. We applied this visual concept into our design of The Bitmap Choir.

Bitmap Choir – In-Game Page

Bitmap Choir is a co-op game that requires each player to sing the given note in tune. When 3 other players join a room, the game starts. The specific given note every player has to sing is indicated by color and number on the upper right-hand side. The colorful slider bar below it tells each player how far they are from the assigned note. Press and hold the spacebar to activate your microphone and sing your note.

Players can click on the lower colorful buttons to listen to the already installed notes to assist them during the game. The mixer interface on the lower left-hand corner allows each player to adjust the volume of his or her own voice and other players’ volume. The chord bars on the top also function as a timer that counts down before the whole ream advances to the next chord. Players who don’t reach the assigned note during the set time will get points deduction.

Technical Diagram

Bitmap Choir – Conceptual Animations

Conceptual Animation Designed by Miltos Tsakiris
Conceptual Animation Designed by Wei-Lin Chang
Conceptual Animation Designed by Jaehyeong Yoo

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