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Relational Computing: Making Art We Can Do Together23:51 with Kawandeep Virdee
Love is the playful, joyful moments we share. It is the improvised rulemaking and creativity between us. We can use physical and software computing to manipulate interpersonal interactions to create joyful experiences.
[SOUND] So, 0:00 what we're gonna do and it's sorta 0:04 my thought with this crazy experiment called robots 0:06 conf, is start the entire conference with big 0:10 visionary things, incredible things, magical things, amazing things. 0:13 and, so I think I did that. 0:18 I think that the two speakers that were up here did that, or three speakers total. 0:19 Two talks, did that incredible. Let's give them a round of applause. 0:23 [SOUND] And then 0:27 the rest of the time let you all make incredible amazing magical 0:30 things, which I think we can all agree did happen quite well. 0:33 A round of applause for everybody all the way around. 0:36 [SOUND] And then we get to the turning point in the 0:39 conference, where we're sort of closing down. 0:44 We're sort of thinking about how we're gonna go from here back to that 0:49 thing called the real world. >> Boo. 0:55 >> Yeah, who wants to do that. So, the next three talks are 0:57 sort of where I, [INAUDIBLE], I view the world should go. 1:03 But through the voices of others, and their own ideas. 1:10 And I, I say, I say, because I sorta got to pick the speakers, which was cool. 1:12 But it, they all seem to align with sort of 1:18 the general idea and theory and beliefs that 1:20 I have of how we should interact going forward. 1:22 And, there's none-, to kick it off, we have 1:26 Kawan here doing open hardware to grow public spaces. 1:29 [SOUND]. >> Cool. 1:32 Thanks Chris. 1:33 >> So it's been a pretty amazing weekend so far. 1:34 I mean, many of you probably felt it already, but even 1:37 just walking through that open hack room, there's just so many 1:39 ideas, and if you have an idea of what you want 1:42 to make, and you walk from one place to another and 1:43 you see, like, three other things, and you're like, whoa my list is just growing. 1:45 And, when Chris asked me to talk about, like, what's next, what's after this? 1:50 I was like, wow, it's very clear to me, like, bring some of this, bring 1:53 this culture, this environment that we have in here, and bring it to the public. 1:57 Bring it out to cafes, to libraries, to wherever. 2:01 And, kind of the inspiration for this is really, 2:04 one of my collaborators, who I make public art with, 2:07 Dan. 2:10 When I first got a leap motion in the mail, I started 2:11 playing with it, I did something many people do, I made a theremin. 2:13 You know, synthesizer moving my hand around, and I did 2:16 it with multiple fingers so I could make cool drones. 2:18 And, I asked them to come over and check it out and play with it. 2:21 I was like, c'mon, this is awesome. 2:25 But but you know it's really selfish of you to just keep it here. 2:26 And I was like, no, no, no I, I pushed it. 2:31 I wrote a blog post, I posted, took some videos, it's great. 2:32 He's like no, no, not everybody 2:34 has this. 2:35 Not everybody has the access to, to make this work. 2:36 You should take this out somewhere, let people play with it. 2:38 And so that's kind of what the sentiment of, of this talk is gonna be. 2:41 How you can use what you've learned in open hardware 2:45 and sensing and controlling kinetics to, to bring public joy. 2:47 So a little bit about myself. 2:53 I'm coming down from Boston. I work at a small startup called embed.ly. 2:54 It helps you, share, mash up, put media in your applications. 2:58 And I'm a developer there. 3:03 But for the past few years, I've been part 3:05 of this public art group, New American Public Art. 3:06 And, there's only two 3:09 conditions for the art that we make. It must be interactive. 3:10 So when you engage with it in some way it must respond. 3:14 And it must be public. It should be free. 3:17 No one should have to pay for it. 3:19 It should be out somewhere that is accessible. 3:20 But both of these things that I'm doing now wouldn't have been possible. 3:24 I wouldn't have been able to do it if it weren't for this place. 3:27 Sprout. 3:29 And this is a place in Somerville, right outside of Boston. 3:30 And, that small text there says community-driven investigations. 3:33 Their whole idea was to take education and make it more personal. 3:37 To remove it from an institution so you could learn on your own, and I know 3:41 many of you who can relate to this, 3:44 because that's really what this maker movement is about. 3:45 This open source movement. 3:47 Sprout is where I first soldered where I was terrified that I would burn myself, 3:50 but somebody across the table's like, no, no, don't worry about it, you'll be fine. 3:55 I was like, no I won't, but I did it and it was okay. 3:57 First time I really 4:01 started programming and working with electronics. 4:02 But something that was even more incredible about 4:05 this place is that they were very inviting. 4:07 They were very welcoming in that. 4:11 They attracted not only technologists, people who wanted to learn how to code and 4:14 do electronics, whatever, play with tools, but 4:17 also folks into DIY, into arts and crafts. 4:19 And then, people who were just in the area people in the neighborhood. 4:22 So when I'd go there, I'd meet people 4:25 from all these different fields, also like, from students 4:27 to elders and you had this diversity of ideas. 4:30 And if you want to do something, it's very likely 4:33 that you would find somebody that you could do it with. 4:35 So this is like the beauty of a hacker space. 4:37 If you want collaborators, here's a place where you can find someone 4:40 to help you build a housing for your crazy arduino project for instance. 4:43 They would have this event once a month that was called spaghetti dinners, 4:49 where you'd get together and have a meal together. 4:52 And there was a certain theme for most of them, like, 4:55 you know, it could be sewage in our city, or robotics. 4:58 And there would be performances, music shows, 5:02 talks, here's a puppet show around that theme. 5:06 And afterwards you just hang out and talk. 5:08 And so not only did I learn a lot about electronics and coding 5:11 from this space, but I also learned what it means to make something public. 5:14 You make it welcoming for people. You make it accessible. 5:17 You make, you let people feel safe there. 5:20 And if you extend that a little bit further you know, there was, there 5:24 was this garage that they use as their office space and they open it up. 5:27 What does it mean to make something more public? 5:31 There's so many places around, around us you know, in, in you know, could 5:33 be parks, or could be squares, or you know, could be in the library wherever. 5:36 How could you make these places more public? 5:40 How could you make institutions 5:42 more public? 5:43 And so I see a parallel between what we've seen in, 5:45 in, in the open hardware movement over the past few years, making 5:49 hardware move accessible, making it easier to use, and seeing a wealth 5:52 of incredible projects, and taking that, and bringing that into public space. 5:55 How can we rethink public space and make 6:00 it more accessible, make it more playful for people? 6:02 You know, an idea that will run through the projects I'm showing you now 6:06 will be based on this kind of 6:10 romantic idea of traditional classroom versus playground. 6:12 Traditional classroom, everybody sits down, faces one way. 6:17 You can't really talk to one another. There's a very, it's a strong hierarchy. 6:20 Student, teacher. The boundaries are fairly closed. 6:24 You're either in or you're out. Versus a classroom, versus, you know, 6:27 versus the playground, which is like what was, 6:31 right next door in the open hack room. 6:34 You could go in, you could go out. 6:37 It was, you know, everybody could talk to one another. 6:38 It wasn't clear who was the student 6:41 or the teacher, because everybody was shifting roles. 6:42 There were things in there, in this 6:46 case, you know, playground equipment, that was inviting. 6:47 You could go and you could just play. And through that, meet one another. 6:50 And I love, I'm so inspired by that. 6:53 I think that's a beautiful forum for public 6:54 space, very inspiring. 6:56 So in a stock bill, I'll talk about a few interactive public art pieces, the first 6:58 two are analog and then the rest of 7:03 them will be using various open hardware and electronics. 7:06 But in the analog ones they just 7:10 illustrate ideas that I think are really fun. 7:11 So a room, start with a room. 7:13 How could you hack a room and make it more public. 7:15 In this case, it was an office building that was not used 7:19 for a year. 7:22 And a couple friends wanted to throw a show in it, an art show. 7:22 And I was, like, okay. 7:25 Well, I'm gonna make something interactive. 7:26 So, here, we just drilled holes in the walls, and put, 7:27 a bunch of strings together to form this, like, interesting star thing. 7:31 And this is, you know, it's just drilling into the walls. 7:34 And when people came, they saw this cool star shape and I gave them a spool 7:38 of, of string and I said, you know, they're like what do I do with this? 7:42 I said whatever you want. So you see, 7:44 kids running around with it, people playing 7:47 with it, just making this intricate web. 7:50 But then, there, there were more meaningful experiences 7:53 that, there were very meaningful experiences that I saw. 7:56 Where one lady said, it feels like a giant cat's cradle. 7:58 It brings back memories of when I was with my grandmother, except 8:00 that now I can be inside the game, instead of with my hands. 8:03 So there's two things here. 8:05 One, it brought back this, this important relationship. 8:07 It was a very, like, personal memory. 8:10 Two, it was rather inexperienced like from your hands to a screen to your brain. 8:12 It was experienced in the body. 8:16 I thought that was cool. 8:18 Another fun story, this older lady with, with, 8:20 bright blue hair, she took one of these 8:23 spools and threw it over these wooden bars 8:24 into the room and back around and hung out. 8:27 In this corner for about 20 minutes. 8:30 We were wondering, oh, well, what's she doing? 8:31 And it's not from any of our encouragement. 8:33 She just did this on her own. And we saw that she crocheted 8:34 the end of the string. 8:37 And that was really cool to see that, that she felt like, encouraged, and, 8:38 and, and, it was okay to have that whimsy and quirkiness in this piece. 8:42 A mother and her daughter pulled out some knitting needles, and. 8:47 And it this, and it was totally a generous gesture where it's like I'm 8:49 not gonna take this home, I'm gonna leave this for everybody else to see. 8:52 So that you could create a, a piece work that people could hang 8:55 out in, could create together to make things for other people to appreciate. 8:58 I felt made 9:01 this a successful like interactive project where, where it 9:02 felt more public, like people felt welcome and invited there. 9:06 Now in a, in a festival. 9:10 Aria Festival is public, is is engaging but how could 9:12 you create something that'll allow people to meet one another. 9:16 So here's we took the inspiration from like, a dinner table and Legos. 9:19 Dinner table, you gather around and you can talk to each other. 9:24 Legos, you can build together. 9:26 We made this giant blue magnetic ball, and we gave people metal pieces and 9:28 we said we discovered with strange magnetic 9:33 properties, can you help us build a civilization? 9:36 And some people dove right into it, they took the metal 9:39 pieces and started constructing things and other were more hesitant but 9:42 you just give them this bucket and they're like alright, if 9:44 you force me but you know, they have fun in the end. 9:47 Here's a clip of that. 9:50 [MUSIC] 9:52 >> Neodya, the world where you can build your dreams. 9:53 We provide a wide range of building materials for you, during your stay. 10:03 [MUSIC] 10:07 These can be used in any manner you see fit. 10:08 Start a new city from scratch... 10:12 >> And, what I love this like, when you create 10:13 this sort of environment usually we're not supposed to break things. 10:14 But a friend of mine asked me if we can destroy some of these buildings. 10:17 I was like yeah, why not. 10:20 We did, it was okay you know, it was a lot 10:22 more fun and I get more space to build other things. 10:24 [MUSIC] 10:27 So this is a little bit on the construction. 10:29 The beach ball, covering it with, fiberglass, then foam. 10:31 And then drilling all these little magnets into it. 10:35 And finally, people playing with it. You know, we had toddlers. 10:39 We were worried that they would eat the pieces. 10:42 But their parents were, like, no, no, no, it's fine. 10:43 And it was fine. 10:44 A Godzilla with magnets on its feet. 10:46 Somebody brought that, and, and destroyed things with it. 10:49 But this is my favorite, you have a daughter, 10:52 her father, and her grandfather. And they're playing it with it together. 10:54 And they all have different, you know, they have different reactions to it. 10:58 But it's, it's fun. 11:02 It's fun to see that, like, they know each other. 11:02 But here, they get to know each other in a new way. 11:04 They get to do something together. 11:06 Another piece is, thinking about, you know, the walk to your commute. 11:09 It's very familiar. 11:12 All these buildings are familiar. 11:13 Oh, you can add things to it to make it more fun. 11:14 So this is a piece where we took four LED strips and 11:17 put it in, downtown in the Four-Point area of Boston, put a few microphones there. 11:20 If you yelled, it would glow, and if you yelled louder, it'd glow brighter. 11:24 So it's just mapping ambient sounds to these 11:27 lights Here's a quick like early, early prototype. 11:29 So this is something that, that you know, 11:33 you, you could throw together over the weekend. 11:35 But this piece became fun because you could, you could wear it. 11:38 You could throw it in a sculpture. 11:41 You could put it on and automatically just introduce this element of interactivity. 11:42 So why not, why not put it somewhere public? 11:48 and, let's see. 11:52 So here's a little bit on how it was constructed. 11:53 LED strip, each strip we gave it a different arduino 11:56 cuz it was gonna be up for a Boston winter. 12:00 We wanted it to be robust. 12:02 Microphones and a box to hold it all. There and all this. 12:04 We put that in this milk jug, which fortunately was right next to the piece. 12:07 Very convenient. Here's 12:11 some. [SOUND] Yeah. 12:13 This [INAUDIBLE]. [SOUND]. 12:14 like. >> [SOUND]. 12:27 >> We're not, like, supposed to yell in public, you know, like, 12:35 you'd be crazy to do that. 12:38 But here, this thing is like, hey, it's okay. 12:39 You yell and I'll listen. 12:41 [NOISE] 12:45 And it helps that it's right by the children's museum. 12:48 [LAUGH] Yeah, and so, okay, so that was a public space. 12:51 Bringing that one in. 12:57 The reason why I, I mention on your commute. 12:58 Maybe a month later I got a tweet. Someone was like oh, 13:00 after I put a block post about building this, he 13:03 said oh I see this twice a day on my commute. 13:06 And I love that idea for like you, like you do 13:07 your walk every day and all of sudden there's this new thing. 13:09 Through the winter, that you wouldn't expect, 13:12 when it's, you know, so dreary outside. 13:14 Now it's something, you know, bright and playful. 13:15 For this next piece, you know, hacking into institutions, making 13:18 it, introducing something to make it more public in some way. 13:22 So, this beautiful building is the media lab. 13:25 Some of you 13:28 might know of it. 13:28 For those that don't It's basically where people are inventing the future. 13:29 They're thinking of wild things that you 13:32 can make with whatever technologies we have. 13:33 It's right at, at MIT, and I love like going there 13:36 and, you know, hear, seeing all the wild projects that they're making. 13:38 Parts of it are, are open, parts of it are not. 13:42 I love thinking about ways to get into it. 13:44 so, I got an email about a graduate student's art show. 13:47 And a friend was like, you just made something. 13:51 But, I'm not 13:53 a grad student, and I never was. 13:54 But I thought this would be a good opportunity. 13:56 So I pretended to be an architecture student. 13:57 And they asked me why I liked making art at 14:00 MIT, and I said, to bring in the outside community. 14:01 And so that's what we did. 14:05 [LAUGH] So we sketched earlier I was 14:05 mentioning like, you, you feel these pieces. 14:09 Because it's not the scale of a screen it's bigger. 14:11 You feel them with your body. 14:14 So to sketch it out, we needed to sketch it out big. 14:16 So the idea was, taking those canvases that you'd see at MoMA of a single color. 14:18 Very, very basic. 14:23 We were imagining, okay, like instead of just 14:24 blue, what if you could change the color. 14:26 So we made this canvas and we were gonna put a camera 14:28 on top that would look at you and sample a single pixel. 14:30 So we built that. 14:33 And we brought it up to the media lab. 14:34 And they let us use the storage elevator, so it fit. 14:36 We wanted to be big, because if we were 14:39 gonna sneak something in, might as well be something big. 14:40 And for 14:43 this we used there's a web cam, with a 14:44 Raspberry Pi connected to the adder fruit RGB strip. 14:45 It was cool, because hooking up a web cam to the Pi is, was really quick. 14:50 I was surprised at how, how quick that worked. 14:54 And here you'd see like, here at the event. 14:57 [MUSIC]. 15:00 This is another piece of Lego building that was. 15:08 [MUSIC] 15:12 This is kinda hard to hear, so I'll just describe what she's saying. 15:14 She's saying that whatever you're wearing, whatever complexity you outfit has, 15:17 you're just boiled down to a single pixel of the display. 15:21 It doesn't care about anything else. 15:23 It just, you're just compressed to a single pixel. 15:24 And I, and I love that description of it, 15:26 because you, we look at it like you were simple. 15:28 And it looks at us, and it's like you are simple too. 15:30 And I like that. 15:33 Using open hardware to hack into existing public art, and make it interactive. 15:36 This is a piece down on the greenway called The Light Blades. 15:42 And they're beautiful. 15:45 They're huge. 15:46 So these are people, they're tiny compared to it. 15:47 But it moves through a gradient of colors. 15:50 And so we've two of my collaborators Dan and 15:55 Brandon wouldn't it be cool if anybody can control it. 15:57 So they wanted to allow you to text it and change it to any color. 16:00 And for that they use, Brandon has created this board 16:04 the Rascal Micro, many of you might be interested in it, 16:07 open hardware, runs Python web server, very easy they put that 16:09 with this piece, and through this, connected it to the internet. 16:14 There's a schematic for it, 16:18 where you send a text message, and it talks to the rascal. 16:20 The rascal talks to this proprietary color box, 16:23 it changes the color of the light blade. 16:26 So, this whole thing was closed before, but 16:28 through the Rascal it was all opened up. 16:30 Oh, so quick clip of that. 16:34 [MUSIC] 16:38 It was a, a sign was put there, so when you saw it, you'd 16:43 see this number, and you're like, oh cool, I can play this thing now. 16:46 [MUSIC] 16:50 Oh yeah, we used real input Thanks, John. >> There we go. 16:52 Cool. Yay! 16:56 [MUSIC] 16:58 >> This is like, during the opening 17:00 everybody's texting so I'll go forward really fast. 17:01 But I wanna show you this part. 17:05 There, so. 17:06 So he's texting red. It's like, whoa. 17:08 Texts, oh yeah then you can put it in different patterns too. 17:16 You can put in a little bit of easter eggs. 17:18 So random. 17:19 Cool. 17:24 And so all the code was online so people could find these little easter eggs, 17:27 and when we looked at the data, you could see the common ones red, blue, green. 17:30 Then there's fish. 17:37 [LAUGH] And. 17:38 You know, of course we knew like, we programmed 17:42 it to have these little e-strikes, but that somebody found 17:44 fish and rainbow, and they got like really into 17:47 it and started, this is like a sampling of it. 17:49 Started texting it a lot, like I looked at 17:50 fish specifically, and someone had texted it like 40 times. 17:52 And I love the idea of someone being like, hey guys, fish, and then. 17:54 [LAUGH] 17:57 And so kind of like the earlier piece of, of like, 18:00 people feeling comfortable being quirky with its work. 18:03 It kinda happened right here where it's like, I'm gonna text 18:06 this fish 40 times, it's okay, and, and I like that. 18:08 Now into, into buildings. 18:13 So this, you know, you wanna hack into a building, you wanna control 18:15 it in some way, you're gonna have to talk to a lot of people. 18:19 You're gonna have to inspire them. 18:21 This is a piece by Dan and Bavin who are also in New American Public Art, and 18:23 they created a kiosk that you could put 18:27 your charlie card on, which is your transport card. 18:28 And when you put your card on it, during the daytime, it plays back stories. 18:30 They went around the South end, and just record 18:35 the stories from people who've lived their few years 18:36 to decades. 18:38 And they don't, they don't care about factual accuracies, just tell us a story. 18:39 And so these would play back and at night, 18:43 lights, lights, oh, and this is the housing. 18:48 Oh, one thing. 18:49 It's cool that like, you can make, a sweet Arduino project. 18:50 Housings are so important. 18:53 Otherwise, people think everything you make is a bomb. 18:54 Like, they're freaked out by it. That's just like it's something small. 18:57 These are the two artists, Dan and Evan. And here's some interactions with it. 19:02 [MUSIC] 19:08 So at night, it changes the colors of the building. 19:08 And that's what I thought was really cool. 19:11 Now they took this, this old building and put these like, lights, and 19:16 [INAUDIBLE] But a lot of it was like, you know, you had to move 19:19 this wire through these buildings, or through the rooms, so you have to, 19:24 but this is people in their offices, like, hey this is gonna be fun. 19:28 This is gonna be cool. 19:32 Inspire them. 19:33 So there's a few different patterns when you put your card on it. 19:34 There's three different ones, three or four. 19:37 So you go there with your friends and maybe your friend has one 19:39 that you like more, so you make them tap it over and over. 19:41 It was cool to see like you know, people 19:45 in the area would recognize voices from the stories. 19:47 And then others, who would come with a group, would realize how it works. 19:50 And they'd be like, oh, guys, look at how this works. 19:53 And they'd tell their friends about it. 19:55 But here's something, like, what I loved about it is, like, you've 19:57 seen that building so many times, like, if you lived in the area. 19:59 And now you could, you could have fun with it. 20:01 Like you could make it have a disco ball. 20:04 So that's a little bit about making it, arduino RFID testing. 20:06 And this is the Rascal again with the benchometer 20:12 for the light sensing and tweaking it when it's installed. 20:14 Further along, wiring like between the rascal and all the 20:20 art windows in the building we used ethernet cords and jacks. 20:22 They just worked really well when you press with them. 20:27 And these are speakers inside one of the kiosks. 20:31 So, now I'm gonna focus it back to you guys. 20:35 And like, what I, I really am encouraging of you. 20:38 So like before you came here, you know, you were incredible. 20:44 Web developers, software programmers, and now, you're into hardware. 20:47 There are so many more possibilities. 20:51 And you know how to sense things, and you know how to program a motor or a light. 20:52 You could do responses. 20:55 And so now you can program interactions. 20:56 And so you could bring that, you know, all these tools that are 20:59 available on the Web for interacting with one another, and, you know, collaborating. 21:01 You could bring that into objects. 21:07 So, in testing this idea out in a really simple way, put, this is, LED grid, 21:08 and just put an Arduino on it, to control it and hooked it up to my computer. 21:14 And you can see how bad it looks, like I wanted to bring this on a plane. 21:19 And I sent it to my collaborators and I was like, 21:22 this is not gonna work, and they're like yeah, bring it in. 21:23 So this is where you know having access to a [SOUND] [UNKNOWN] they've built this. 21:26 We're just housing, and it was a quick test. 21:30 But then like you could draw on it. 21:33 And that was rad cause it's like whoa, web sockets, and socket I/Os. 21:35 So it's a lot easier to do this kind of thing. 21:39 And you know, node serial port exists so 21:41 I could talk between my computer and this thing. 21:43 But that's like one of you know, this is like a small thing like. 21:47 You might, I mean I just imagine people who 21:50 are more experienced with the web and building apps 21:52 and stuff like that on a larger scale what 21:54 sort of wild interactive massively collaborative pieces can be made. 21:56 Like this can be put in a store front or a 22:00 in a square and you could do wild things with it. 22:01 So kind of playing off of that all through this weekend. 22:06 You learn new, I mean, everybody learns something new. 22:10 For me, it was like, playing with a server motor. 22:13 And wow, cool. 22:16 And there's this element of wonder while you're making something 22:18 and you, and you realize that you can control it yourself. 22:20 And when you make something interactive, you take that 22:23 wonder and you, you, bring it to a participant. 22:25 You bring it to anybody who can play with it. 22:27 You put it outside and people walking by who wave 22:29 their hand and this drone flies in 22:31 a storefront window, they're like, whoa, cool. 22:33 And I love that that can further inspire people. 22:36 And when, when you, when you put something in the public people can have new 22:39 ways of, of getting to know each 22:43 other, new ways of communicating with one another. 22:45 You, you remember like. 22:47 With that giant globe, the family playing with it. 22:49 They'd never done anything like that before, so it was cool. 22:52 A new experience. I think when you feel okay 22:54 with some work that encourages you to be whimsical, silly, 22:57 playful, you can have new ways to find joy together. 23:00 And to me, when you could do that, that's really what growing public space is. 23:04 And so now with these, armed with this 23:08 ability to, you know, some of you've made robots. 23:10 That's so, that's so awesome. 23:13 That's like really advanced than any of the stuff here. 23:14 Armed with that ability you can create 23:17 these objects, they can have these, these interactions. 23:18 You could put that somewhere people 23:21 can play with it. 23:22 And you could, you know, grow public space. 23:23 So I wanna say thanks to all of my collaborators. 23:28 I'm gonna post these online, so I definitely 23:31 recommend checking out some of their work as well. 23:33 Dan, Bevan, Brandon, Greg, Adam, Rosie, Noura, and Adam. 23:36 These were all the people who were participating in the work that was made. 23:40 thanks. [SOUND] 23:44
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