Breaking the Frame

Breaking the Frame is an art installation that explores the connection between visual perception and time by displacing the user’s reflected image over time and space. The installation elevates the user’s self-awareness in the present moment and challenges our traditional perception of a mirror image by incorporating not only our present reflection, but also our reflections from the immediate past.

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Looking Back (an ITP reflection): Part 2

In many ways, my ITP experience has been similar to an experience I had as a child. This story, based on my personal experience with impaired eyesight is in many ways a metaphor for my ITP experience. It also led me to an exploration of vision that would ultimately lead to an exploration of vision shifted over time, which is my final project.For the first seven years of my life, my visual experience was different to that of others. The only things I saw perfectly were the things immediately around me, and anything more than a few feet away was a blur; yet, knowing nothing of sharper vision, I was unaware that blurry vision was not the norm and less than adequate for daily life.On my first trip to the optician, I learned that I had moderate myopia, or nearsightedness, and I was prescribed glasses to correct my vision. The world literally expanded when I slipped on my first pair of glasses. My field of vision was no longer limited solely to my immediate environment: while I had been fully aware that leaves grew on trees, and while I had been entirely familiar with what a leaf looked like, I had never seen multiple leaves attached to a tree except in photographs. My visual world had expanded in three-dimensionality; I could now see clearly all the way to the horizon.

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Looking Back (an ITP reflection): Part 1

In Spring 2011, I embarked on a project called Looking Back. This project was a series of explorations encompassed two types of reflection: a retrospective of my experience and projects at ITP; and a final project entitled Breaking the Frame, which provides a more literal look back in time through reflection of the self.

Kat at ITP
I arrived at ITP in August 2009 with a background in media and communications, where I focused on how brands communicate with people and figuring out ways to improve those conversations. At ITP, I wanted to focus on creating more meaningful interactions between people, using technology as a vehicle for communication.

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MMA: The New 19th Century Galleries for Painting and Sculpture

Last week, I visited the New 19th Century Galleries for Painting and Sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The point of entry to these galleries is a long, grand corridor of paintings and sculptures that invites the visitor to wander around at their own pace. The grand surroundings give a sense of class and status, but despite this, the art seems accessible: low pedestals in open space make it easy for children to see the art and encourage visitors to walk around the sculptures and view the artwork from just inches away.

The near-perfect symmetry of the first gallery space creates an unmistakable sense of balance and order, both in terms of the arrangements of artwork  and interior architecture. The lighting seems like pretty general overhead lighting – it does not appear to cater to individual works.

From the initial hall of painting and sculpture, visitors have a choice of three doorways to other galleries. From here, visitors choose their own path to wander through the other galleries.

The didactics in these galleries are quite simple, providing a little background and perhaps an tidbit of interesting information regarding the artwork.

Benches in some galleries provide a welcome place for visitors to rest for a little while, or perhaps sit while spending some time looking at a painting.

The Wisteria Dining Room (1910-13), designed by Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer in Art Nouveau style, is one part of the exhibit that stood out. The entire room, originally built in a Paris apartment, has been put back together within the museum. The incorporation of the room’s original floor lamps makes the room appear as it would actually have looked almost one hundred years ago.

A couple of the painting galleries were surprisingly dimly lit. Sure, it creates contrast between the rooms, and the dim light really brings the visitor in, but I found myself squinting to see the paintings. I suppose that this was the intention of the exhibit designers, so I’ll be interested to find out more about why one might choose to display paintings in such a dark environment.

Mobile Me(dia) Final: Spontaneous

My first Android app is just about ready to go! Tentatively entitled Spontaneous, my final project in Shawn Van Every’s Mobile Me(dia) class is an app designed to encourage users to make the most out of their free time by doing the things that they have been meaning to do but haven’t quite gotten around to.

Currently, Spontaneous allows the user to:

  • Add a Spontaneous activity to their list. This part of the app allows users to enter the thing they’d like to do, e.g. go to MoMA, and the amount of time they expect the activity will take. The activity and amount of time entered by the user are then written to a SharedPreferences file on their Android device for later retrieval by the app.
  • Do a Spontaneous activity from their list. When a user has some time available, this part of the app allows them to select from a dropdown menu the amount of time that they have available, then brings up the activities on their list that fit into the amount of time they have available.
  • View the full list of Spontaneous activities. This view allows the user to see all of the activities on their list. Currently, the activities come up as buttons; when the user hits the button, they are given the opportunity to cross the activity on their list, or leave it on the list.

Here are some screenshots – just click on the thumbnails to see the full image.

There are a few things I plan to do before putting Spontaneous in the Android Market. I want to make the interface more aesthetically pleasing, make navigation a little more straightforward, and figure out how to limit the results in the ‘Do a Spontaneous Activity’ section solely to the activities that fit within the time that a user has available.

Rest of You final proposal: Breathe

Breathing is body activity that can occur unconsciously or consciously. Without thought, we breathe automatically, but with practice, we can learn to breathe more effectively. By breathing properly, we can better manage stress and stress-related conditions that are not advantageous to modern life.

My final project proposal for Rest of You is a light sculpture that aims to curb stress by encouraging deeper, controlled breathing by providing the user with visual feedback. Here’s the initial sketch:

The light sculpture is controlled by a breathing sensor, comprised of a piece of stretchy conductive material attached to a strap of non-stretchy material that is worn around the ribcage. As the user inhales, their ribcage expands, stretching the sensor and increasing its resistance. The increase in resistance causes the LEDs on the sculpture to turn on, one by one, from the bottom to the top of the sculpture. As the user exhales, the LEDs turn off, one by one, from top to bottom. As the user continues to breathe, the sculpture reflects their breaths. If the user fails to breathe deeply, the sculpture won’t fully turn on. It is my hope that the user will want the sculpture to fully light up, and therefore breathe deeply to make this happen.

Research indicates that curbing the stress response has the following positive effects:

  • Reduces stress hormone production
  • Balances O2 and CO2 in the blood
  • Lowers blood pressure and heart rate
  • Increases physical energy
  • Promotes calm and wellbeing
  • Reduces lactic acid build-up in muscle tissue
  • Improves immune system functionality

My goal for the final is to get the breathing sensor and light sculpture up and running. Once these parts are complete, the next step will be to make it wireless. I plan to do this with XBees.

Mobile Me(dia) Final Proposal

There are so many fun things that I want to do, that I “sort of” plan to do in the future, but I never get around to doing many of these things. Going to the Cloisters, for example. I keep meaning to do it, but I never get around to it.

These aren’t the kinds of activities that belong in my Tasks or To Do list. These are the kinds of things that I can do spontaneously when I have some time available.

To this end, I’m planning to make a mobile app for the Mobile Me(dia) final that allows me to enter these types of activities and the time needed to do them. When I have some free time available, I can consult this app, input the amount of time I have and allow the phone to suggest what I can do with the time.

Here’s the draft wireframe.


Thesis Prep: Optical Devices

Continuing my exploration of the themes of optics and eyesight, I made some optical devices of my own.

I popped the lenses out of an old pair of sunglasses and got to work with some construction paper and thread to make seven designs to affix to the glasses in place of the lenses. I tried wearing the glasses and noted my observations, and gave the most interesting ones to some friends who generously volunteered as test subjects.

Sketches of the experiment


The most interesting designs were the one with multiple small polka dots (#4), which created an odd sense of depth, an interesting blur effect and made the wearer more aware of their eyes’ focus; the one with a single larger dot on each eye (#3), which gave the wearer peripheral vision only; and the one that was all blacked out except for three small holes on each eye, which blacked out most of the field of vision, forced the user to move their head to see, and they were only privy to viewing three small areas within that field of vision, without being able to see what was between them.

Below are images from the experiment. Next step might be to convey what the scene looks like to the person wearing the glasses.

Cabinets of Wonder: Museum Websites

I did a quick survey of two museum websites for Cabinets of Wonder. My goal was to figure out how easy it is to access basic info on the museum (directions, hours of operation, address), and also to find additional parts of the website that I found surprising/interesting.

The Jewish Museum

Address on homepage, 1 click for hours, 2 clicks for directions.

The Jewish Museum website features an online exhibitions section of some of the Museum’s previous exhibitions. Some of the online exhibitions have interactive features. There is an interactive Flash game in the William Steig online exhibition inspired by a game called “Five Lines” that William Steig’s daughter Maggie recalled playing with her father. Five Lines provides users with five random black lines on a white background and invites them to make the lines into a face by adding their own lines. In another online exhibition, there’s Curious George timeline that visitors can virtually cycle on by pushing a bike along the timeline. Users can click items along the timeline to access works from that exhibition.

I also learned that the Jewish Museum has a international travel program that offers members “unique opportunities to learn about art and Jewish culture in communities around the world.”


Address on homepage, 2 clicks for hours, 2 clicks for directions.

MoMA’s site focuses on accessibility for everyone. One of the first things I came across was the Museum’s MeetMe program, dedicated to making art accessible to people with Alzheimers/dementia.

MoMA’s focus on education and research only became apparent to me on the website. In the Learn section, I learned that MoMA offers lecture courses and studio art courses. There are daytime and evening courses, in addition to online courses that can be completed on the user’s own time. There’s a research section on the MoMA site with information on accessing the museum library, a circulating video library, and several study centers, open by appointment, that offer access to specialized research materials.

Android SMS app

I’ve been getting cosy with Java, Eclipse and the Android development platform in recent days. After making the Hello World application, I played around with the xml file where the Android layouts reside and made some buttons (with different brightly colored text on each!) that change the screen color when clicked on.

I was glad to learn of the existence of Android intents, which enables applications to pass requests along to other apps to handle tasks. We can leverage intents to get other applications to send emails, SMS, use the camera, etc. as part of our app without writing a new and separate client to do so.

I used an SMS intent to get my app, InstantSMStoFriends, to send pre-written SMS messages to my friends when I click on their names.

Here's the landing page for InstantSMStoFriends. There are four buttons. The user clicks on any of the four buttons to send a text message.

SMS intent has been launched! Here's the screen that appears after I click the "Text Amy" button.

In doing this, I also learned how to take these awesome Android screenshots using DDMS in Eclipse!