Tangled Threads consists of a storyboard in the form of a Diffusion eBook, that reflects upon the different projects and aspects to which Proboscis has delved into. You can download a copy of the eBook here: http://diffusion.org.uk/?p=2171
My task was to create a storyboard using only the text Karen had scripted. With her words I had to create a series of fast sketches within a short time frame, jotting down the first visual that came to mind. It was later decided that the finished storyboard was to be presented in the form of an eBook, as a counterpart for a new Proboscis film that will be presented as part of a Leonardo/MIT mobile digital exhibition curated by Jeremy Hight.
This was my first time creating a full scale storyboard, but it was also my first time adjusting it to an eBook format. It encouraged me to use different panels and discard frames which can be reduced to one panel. I am also glad it became an eBook because it would have been a real shame if others could not see the impressive text Karen had written.
The most challenging part of this project was the initial sketches: being asked to do fast speed sketching within a time limit. This method made me stay focused and avoid swaying off into different artistic directions and just sketching the first thing that came to mind, then only further developing that idea. Although this method sounds like rushing, the results were pretty interesting!
Overall, it was a great challenging project which allowed me to experiment with a different technique to spark my imagination and creativity. It gave me a chance to use some of my own knowledge about storyboarding and panelling, and Alice had given me a lot of freedom with the concepts. It was also a great opportunity to practice artistic techniques and being aware of areas that may need more improvements.
Here are a few samples from the eBook and initial sketches, the first stage as I mentioned earlier was creating the quick rough sketches of what popped up in my mind. Then I condensed frames to a set of panels on a single page, with this it is scanned in and cleaned up. The final stage was digitally painting the images and resizing them according to the Bookleteer guidelines.
Over the past few months we have been developing new wearables and improvements to the Rumbler for Sensory Threads, which we successfully tested working together last week. The new wearables are based on Arduino and use XBee for communication, and the Rumbler now has multiple map selection, replay and printing (on the Rumbler’s attached micro-printer) of specific expeditions.
In the coming months we are planning to conduct a series of experimental expeditions through London to test the platform and build up a repertoire of expeditions for the Rumbler to replay. We will also be exploring building more portable versions of the Rumbler to make it easier to present at conferences and festivals.
The environment around us is a mass of sensory information, some of it easy to detect, playing on our visual, aural, olfactory, gustatory and tactile senses, while others are less perceptible – electro-magnetic radiation, hi-lo sound frequencies, infra-red light etc – and yet these imperceptible streams interact with us regularly as we go about our everyday lives.
Back in September 2008 Proboscis devised a one day workshop for Dislocate08 in Yokohama, Japan to “engage artists, urbanists, designers, technologists, musicians and dancers in an active investigation into the sensorial patterns and rhythms to be found in our environment”. The workshop was one of our first research activities for Sensory Threads, which we hoped would inspire some critical reflection on the project’s aim to create a playful instrument for exploring imperceptible phenomena in the world around – translating them into sound and touch.
The ‘foreigness’ of Japan to the team of 3 who went to run the workshop (Giles Lane, Karen Martin & Frederik Lesage) was an important consideration in deciding its location. We felt that such an unfamiliar place, people, culture and language might present interesting challenges that would mean we would have to be keenly aware of the environment all the time. Once there it reminded us how easily we become de-sensitised to our surroundings through habit and familiarity: the smells of places, air pressure, humidity etc. Those things which pervade us constantly so that we rarely notice them, except when they change or are absent. In Japan we noticed the extraordinary cultural emphasis on paying attention to the details, the small pleasures and experiences of everyday life, which appears to be preserved in mainstream culture and society there through rituals, practice and patience at so many levels, from seasonal food to street decorations.
Returning to London and discussing the event and our experiences in Japan with the rest of the Sensory Threads team it helped shape our conception of the soundscape that the wearables would create – that it would be designed to act as a means of alerting the wearers to subtle changes in ourselves and the environment so that they could experience a sensitivity to their relationship with it. The choice of sensors would be ones that could be tuned just beyond or at the fringes of human perception, giving us a new means of ‘listening’ to the world and how we are part of it – acting with and acted on. The Rumbler too was shaped by these considerations – making imperceptible phenomena tangible through the media of touch, translating sensor data into vibration as well as sound.
Taking the project forward after our prototype demo at the Dana Centre last month, we plan to explore new levels of participatory and collective sensing, richer sonification and making tangible souvenirs for participants more seamless with the experience.
Sensory Threads will get its first public demo at the London Science Museum’s Dana Centre on June 23rd 2009 as part of the Surface Tension event. We will be demonstrating the prototype Wearable Sensors and the Rumbler and inviting participants to test out the system during the day. The event is free and no booking is required.
Below are some photos from a recent test at our studio and in the surrounding streets of Clerkenwell.
Sensory Threads combines sound, touch and electronic sensing to create shared soundscapes that reveal phenomena at the edges of human sensory perception. It uses music and vibration to ping our consciousness to barely perceptible changes in the environment, making tangible articulations of our relationships to each other and the environments we move through. It is a playful platform for exploring what happens when we overlap data from one place to another and brings a unique musical and group perspective to mobile participatory sensing.
A work-in-progress, Sensory Threads allows groups of four people to create a collective soundscape of their interactions with each other and the environment. Carrying wearable sensors which detect phenomena at the periphery of human perception as well as the location, movement and proximity of the wearers, they can explore their environment whilst listening to a soundscape generated from the sensor data. Variations in the soundscape reflect changes in the wearers’ interactions with each other and the environment around them.
The data is simultaneously fed to the Rumbler where it can be experienced remotely as vibration, sound and image. The Rumbler acts as a stand alone installation allowing people to playback the sonic/sensory explorations; a tactile interface to otherwise ephemeral and intangible experiences. Other Tangible Souvenirs are generated from these experiences in the form of the microprinter’s sensographs and Diffusion eBooks.
The Sensory Threads prototype will be demonstrated at the Science Museum’s Dana Centre in London 23rd June 2009.
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A Sensory Threads Sensograph printed by the Rumbler
Team: Demetrios Airantzis, Alice Angus, Dia Batal, Nick Bryan-Kinns, Robin Fencott, Giles Lane, Joe Marshall, Karen Martin, George Roussos, Jenson Taylor, Lorraine Warren & Orlagh Woods.
Partners: Proboscis, Birkbeck College’s Pervasive Computing Lab, The Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary (University of London), Mixed Reality Lab (University of Nottingham) and the School of Management at University of Southampton.
Proboscis is leading a pilot project, Sensory Threads, funded by the CREATOR Research Cluster. The project builds upon our previous collaborations with Birkbeck College’s Pervasive Computing Lab on the Feral Robots and Snout environmental sensing projects and takes wearable sensing into new areas with new collaborations with the Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary, University of London, the Mixed Reality Lab at University of Nottingham and Southampton University’s School of Management.
Sensory Threads is a work-in-progress to develop an instrument enabling a group of people to create a soundscape reflecting their collaborative experiences in the environment. For this interactive sensory experience, we are designing sensors for detecting environmental phenomena at the periphery of human perception as well as the movement and proximity of the wearers themselves. Possible targets for the sensors may be electro-magnetic radiation, hi/lo sound frequencies, heart rate etc). The sensors’ datastreams will feed into generative audio software, creating a multi-layered and multi-dimensional soundscape feeding back the players’ journey through their environment. Variations in the soundscape reflect changes in the wearers interactions with each other and the environment around them. We aim to premiere the work in 2009.
Team: Alice Angus, Giles Lane, Karen Martin and Orlagh Woods (Proboscis); Demetrios Airantzis, Dr George Roussos and Jenson Taylor (Birkbeck); Joe Marshall (MRL); Dr Nick Bryan-Kinns and Robin Fencott (Queen Mary) and Dr Lorraine Warren (Southampton).