Final Project: Find Your Center

Title: Find Your Center

Artist: Rebecca Fisher

Completion Date: 17 Mar 2015

Place of Creation: artist’s home

Style: conceptual art

Technique: computer process, performance, videography, and photography

Materials: Arduino Uno microprocessor, breadboard, four Sharp IR sensors, hookup wire and lead-free solder, Processing, Macbook Pro, tape, colored paper, and a stool. Adobe Premiere Pro for editing the video documentation.

*there is no audio for my documentation

Description: This project uses four infrared sensors attached to a wall in various configurations ranging from easy to challenging. They are all connected to an Arduino which communicates with the Processing environment. Each sensor is placed on top of a different colored sheet of paper. If a sensor is activated, a circle of the same color will appear on the computer screen. The goal is to balance your body to “find your center” (like in yoga) and activate all four sensors. If the user successfully activates all four, then the screen will display “you found it!” and animate the circles towards the computer screen’s center as long as the bodily position is maintained.

Conceptual Inspiration: This project examines our understanding of and control over our own bodies, our relationship to the objective nature of computing, and the process of activating computing objects. As you watch the documentation that I included, you will see that the participants had to exert careful control over their gestures and their positions in space, oftentimes making micro-adjustments in order to trigger all four sensors. These adjustments included shifting weight, stretching, bending joints, and more. One of the inspirations for this piece, Deborah Forster illustrated that we have routinized control over our bodies and it takes mindfulness to be aware of our posture, gestures, and position in space. Our control over our bodies can be realized and optimized by the Feldenkrais method, as Dr. Forster demonstrated, which incorporates mindfulness into our control of our physical selves. Mindfulness is key to my project because the user must be fully aware of where their limbs are at all times in order to achieve the desired results. The objective nature of computing is also explored because the user must trust that the four sensors actually are gathering accurate information and that the computer is displaying it properly. The participant’s gaze is typically transfixed upon the laptop screen to confirm that the sensors are being activated and the gaze typically only shifted to the sensors when the participant felt that they were not getting an accurate reading. The participant had to look to the sensors to confirm that their own body was properly placed in the sensor’s gaze. As seen in the video, the participants expressed frustration when they were performing a challenging configuration and the sensor was not quickly reading the participant’s attempt at triggering the sensor. We expect computers to perform accurately and objectively and become frustrated when their output is not what we expect. Finally, this project explores activated objects because the body is what activates the changes on the computer screen via triggering the sensors. We are already used to activating computers with our bodies in routine ways such as typing on a keyboard or manipulating a mouse. Like Char Davies, I wanted to change the interaction with technology to include the entire body and to align the gestures with our core ( find your center!). In order to activate the “You found it!” message and accompanying animation, you must use your entire body to communicate with the computer, not just your hands.

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