Project Writeup

Description of project

A set ofsound-emittant objects that comprise an ecosystem that has rules that you have to cooperate with and understand in order to get themost out of using them to create more sounds. The experience is meant to be playful and meditative.

Research question

Does a combination of tactile experiences that trigger sounds, mediated by slightly unpredictable and sometimes surprising interactions create a soothing and engaging experience?

Plan for discovery:

  1. finish reading stuff, inclusion poetics of space, haraway, etc.

  2. paper prototypes to test

  3. print created zbrush prototypes and print them in LaGuardia studios and test them on people to see what interactions people may find intuitive with those objects. 


  5. design sounds for these things. Something between animal plant and synth.


  7. read more on posthuman theory and actor network theory and cyborg manifesto, sound therapy, tatile therapy, ian bogost’s alien phenomenology.

  8. I plan to meet with Elaine Gan next Tuesday before the Temp Ex meeting.

  9. thinking also about adding a vest to test out that is filled with vubracoustics to see how people feel in it esp if it is also playing a sound. perhaps with a teensy or with max.

Who will engage with your project: how, where, and why?

People in spaces for waiting, therapy, relaxation, either public or domestic spaces.

What do you want your project to DO?

I’d like the project to be an environment for people to have interactions with the objects and one another, where things can happen that aren’t completely predictable. The experience should be playful and meditative. I’m curious to see what will happen. Tactile experiences mixed with simple sounds, should produce some soothing effect. The system’s limitations and discoverability I hope will create a partially unpredictable environment.

Plan your remaining 4 weeks and schedule it

  • Finish shapes + design simple sounds (range of minimal to nature) by Thanksgiving

  • User text the week after - two separate tests. one of must objects and one of objects and sounds together (or at least the sound on it’s own if i can’t get the sensor to do anything. might use infrared or light sensor for now to make it simpler as i feed it into max)

  • Nov 27 - I plan to meet with Elaine Gan next Tuesday before the Temp Ex meeting.

  • try the body suit with subwoofer to test. can a user also wear the sculpture and be on of the sculptures in a way? one of the actors?

  • more testing and continue to fabricate and perfect sounds and read research about posthuman theory, ANT, tactile and sound therapy, non human centered design, relational aesthetics.

 just am image to be meta :)

just am image to be meta :)

Expert Interview - Sound Therapist

Just got off the phone with Devi Sambouka of Masma Dream World Therapy a sound healer and experimental artist. She was excited to be part of this as sound and technology is her expertise and passion. She explained to me how sound bowls work (the different frequencies) and how the low frequency pillows work. These low frequencies travel through the body and give you a sonic massage. She also offered to have me come in to do this! I might just do that. Each pillow has two transducers (basically subwoofers). Seems pretty relaxing and I’d love to try these pillows and maybe use this approach in a project with sound suits that I’ve been thinking about making.

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Success at the library

 Life-changing desktop background of Margaret Smith, the librarian at Bobst. 

Life-changing desktop background of Margaret Smith, the librarian at Bobst. 

I’m thrilled I met with Margaret Smith today at the Bobst library. She directed me to a grad deal of helpful resources ranging from Actor Network Theory to Sound Therapy and even a computer game that deals with unpredictability in a fictitious “other world”. 



PsycNet (database of psychology literature):

Search for "music therapy" and "autism" (anxiety, or whatever)

ACM Digital Library (database of fun technology stuff):

Search for "sonic playground" or "therapeutic objects manipulate sound"

Some of the articles we found:

Playing with Toys: Towards Autonomous Robot Manipulation for Therapeutic Play (article):

Why that instrument? A bibliographic study of the reasons instruments are chosen by music therapy clients (article):

Digital instruments and their uses in music therapy (article):

Reassembling the social (book by Bruno Latour):


Those who want to find calm (or be exhilarated too in a way) while creating with objects that are not passive instruments but that allow for surprise and require attention and adaptability. These may be individuals or groups of people.

Experts: Sound and ANT and Posthuman

This center - MASMA DREAM WORLD SOUND THERAPY - in NY looks like a goof place to start.

Louise Fou and Martha Skou - sound sculpture artists

Ernesto Neto - tangible plush art

 Their site feels accessible and not too cult-like.

Their site feels accessible and not too cult-like.

Some other potential experts:

Sound Healing - I’m a little hesitant to contact this organization because it might be too new age for my understanding of the world but maybe this is just what i need to open my mind to. I do enjoy the aesthetic of the website. It’s unclear if they are ironic about it or not. Either way, it is great.

Donna Haraway - As soon as I finish Cyborg Manifesto I will contact her. How can these objects help to serve people in the way that might benefit relationships across species, etc.? Perhaps my dog can meet her dog over Skype and we can have a four-entity-group-meeting.

Michel Callon and Bruno Latour (ANT guys) - I might as well contact them too.

Making shapes to test

 Using unpaid bills for making paper clay

Using unpaid bills for making paper clay

I started crafting the enclosures of different sizes in order to prototype how they will feel when one holds or pushes them.  This is something I will user test. To add wheighy and stabity i am using plaster and cement. I may use those materials to make full enclosures for small iterations as well. 



Using giphycam to make gifs of the process. Shredding bills and discarded paper at ITP. 


 An enclosure that has a phone inside. In the future it will hold a raspberry pi and small speaker. I think these should be bigger.  more shapes mainly focused on weebly wobble mechanics because I think it gives them permanence and resilience. Even if someone moves them they return to the same initial state.

An enclosure that has a phone inside. In the future it will hold a raspberry pi and small speaker. I think these should be bigger.

more shapes mainly focused on weebly wobble mechanics because I think it gives them permanence and resilience. Even if someone moves them they return to the same initial state.



More about the speske-looking object. This is an accelerometer to synth modulator im a P5js editor (using Tone.js) in a browser on an android phone. It can be placed inside an enclosure to create an sonified kinetic sculpture.

I've been interested in using sound as a material for about two years now and at Itp I am able to learn how to do this. The movement of the object is effected by the shake and the sound is also "sculpted" - modulated - by the physical shape of the object as well as by the movement of the object. In this way the three qualities - shape, movent, and sound are interconnected. I also try to craft sounds that might complement the aesthetic of the object.

I started creating sound sculptures last semester. I'm doing this because I'd like to take the interaction of of the screen and explore tangible interactive experience. Sound is, in my opinion, one of the richest materials to use as feedback because it's it absract yet accessible to most people. We are naturally inclined to listen to music, for example. We perceive the nuances in the vast variety of sound available to us, which can create a myriad of moods. There is emotion in sound that is often hard to convey using sculpture. Sculpture on the other hand is something that can one can be next to - it's visual and tangible. There is a permanence to it that I find valuable in staying focused on an experince. One can be in the presence of an object and it can be meditative to hold it and focus on it.  Sounds can complement this meditative experience. Sounds are fleeting but instruments remain. The sound, in a way, is captured by the object, like a genie in a lamp.

To give the experience dimention and give the objects agency my goal is the add code (perhaps through randomness and through the time function of Tone.js) that makes the "instruments'" behavior impossible to predict with certainty yet also intuitive. Certain variables will be easily discoverable while others will change over time so that people who engage with the system of instruments cannot fully impose their will on this system. In a way these dialogic interactions are simulating what many of us would like to see more of in the world - more cooperation with nature is just one example. Another example is literally creating better relationships between object and people (the opposite of Alexa :) ) I found out from Marina that people have been interested in this already- Actor Network Theory. I'm glad there is a language for what I'm trying to do and the are already many conversations about it. Turns out my mom knows about this too! I told her about giving agency to objects and she said "yes I've read about this. It's become popular recently!" So that's funny because she's retired and I had no idea she was so much more with it that I was. She finally understands now why I'm doing these things. Putting in in context of the movement helps people understand the idea behind this project so that's going to help with thesis as I plan to continue exploring various tangible and sonic interactions with an emphasis on subverting traditional human to object (which can also stand for human to nature, human to other species, human to other human even) relationships.  

Another way to look at it is if I'm going to build a set of instruments that are meant to be meditative objects, I don't want them to be servile, predictable, and boring. I would like then to change over time and surprise me every time I use them. I'd like to create a sense of wonder that comes with using an instrument for the first time out discovering something new. I think it will be stimulating and encourage creative thinking ad perhaps even self refection after certain types of interactions. what does it mean to you and how do you feel when a series of instruments change how they play in response to a certain way that you activate them? Things like that. I hope I am able to convey all of this when I make more of these and perhaps I will be able to convey more as language is so limited.

Another way of saying this is that if you just record the same sound and keep pressing play it feels like you've captured the sound and it has to play the same way every time according to your whim. it's the end of the game. Feels a little fascist :) and not as much fun as cooperating with the instruments that allow you - if you listen and pay attention to how they choose to work - to create ever-changing, sonic experiments. 




A More-Than-Human Centered Design Manifesto

Human-centered design can be disastrous In how it allows us to impose our will over objects, other species, and nature in general. It also seeps into how we treat other people that we think are inferior and even sometimes ourselves. Often the human centrality plays out in design without regard for what that one-directional relationship does to our perception of ourselves and the culture we are creating.

Examples of such design are Alexa and Uber.

How can we design interactions that change how we see ourselves as a society, how we treat beings and things? How can we create a more balanced ecosystem?


Please take a look at a project i'm working on that can situate itself and takes inspiration from <3 posthuman theory and actot network theory<3


Thank you Giphycam for the art for these statements.  




ANT and design

  1. The Actor-Network Theory can also be applied to design, using a perspective that is not simply limited to an analysis of an object's structure. From the ANT viewpoint, design is seen as a series of features that account for a social, psychological, and economical world. ANT argues that objects are designed to shape human action and mold or influence decisions. In this way, the objects' design serves to mediate human relationships and can even impact our morality, ethics, and politics.[27]“–network_theory#ANT_and_design

  2. “The recent advent of environmental philosophy and posthuman studies has widened our scope of inquiry to include ecosystems, animals, and artificial intelligence.” Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing, Ian Bogost.



 "They are things around which discussions happen, even with only one other person, and that help us to imagine other kinds of worlds and experiences. "


”What are these stories? They are whatever stories you want to tell. They are objects that provide another way of expressing what you’re thinking, perhaps before you’ve even figured out what you imagination and your ideas mean.”

i love this because it’s true that we often don’t know exactly what we want to say. We have ideas buy some can’t be verbalized. Even though I now know that my ideas for this project I been meaning to make for over a year now can be described by an existing theory - ANT. But even so, there are still things that I can’t explain about the concept that gestates in my mind. The only thing left is to make things and then maybe describe them as well as I can. Artist statements are important. 


”Language is a tricky thing, often lacking the precision you’d like, which is why conversation pieces designed to provoke the imagination, open a dis- cussion up to explore possibilities and provoke new considerations that words by themselves are not able to express. Heady stuff, but even in the simplest, vernacular contexts, such stories are starting points for creative ex- ploration“

Yes! So hard to explain but relatively easy to show. 


“Design fiction creates opportuni- ties for reflection as well as active making.”  

Yes seems it’s more like what we call art in general and less like actionable design.  At the same time though Bleeker says “can work comfortably with the vernacular and pragmatic” and still a design practice not really art. 


Love the slow messages device. This makes sense. I’ve seen and read about design fiction before so I understand the premise. My favorite Dunne and Raby project is the urban food foraging apparatuses etc. that anticipate and admonish against food shortage, tightened surveillance, and other possible futures. I love that the apparatuses are so whimsical. Comedy helps make them memorable  . Tickles the brain and asks people to internalize it more. Our syntax professor would bust out a joke when he saw us drifting off into sleep. It worked to waken the mind and keep it sharp.   


Still not sure how speculative design in different from design fiction  maybe they are the same? 



“The unusual, unexpected, multiple near futures that sustain not only the ecological earth but the emerging socially networked and connected earth are especially in need of a more active voice, if only to create an alternative to the programmed myth that there is only one future on the flat graph that goes up and to the right — or that there is only one future that only takes time to distribute evenly.“

Feels like there needs to be more experimentation like this in design  small scale prototyping that is a little more experimental than the safe design choices we tend to see. It’s an art to balance budget time and a plethora of prototyping but it is essential, I agree with him.  We see it in some firms and organizations more than others.  frog does this a bit or at least tries to. Open Ideo encourages this as well.  Maybe A/D/O does too? And I imagine the NEW inc that is an incubator by New Museum tries this. And of course the figuring cards that Marina and Sarah designed. Even just thinking adventurously without prototyping already opens up the mind to alternative ways of doing things. The goal of all these exercises is probably to quickly test out what seeds might be worth planting.









I don't know who to interview yet

I was thinking Donna Harroway but I need to prepare more to ask her things because I wouldn't want to miss a chance to ask her all the right questions. I might need to research Actor Network and posthuman theories some more and find cyborg experts. Ultimately it sounds like i'm creating a colony of little cygborgs that humans can sort of impact but that illustrate the value of non human beings. I was thinking I could make them also look part plant part animal. That Idea I've had for a while and thought the technological side of it would be hidden from the viewers. I wanted the views to suspend their imagination and pretend these things were animal-plant-like entities but now i'm thinking that they can still be considered cyborgs even if they aren't overtly machinelike. 

The good news is that I was told today by Beverly Chou the interactions between these things is totally possible with a server and raspberry pi's. She said she can help! I may not get to that in this class but at least i know that for thesis it's doable. 

 My next steps;

1. make clay prototypes

2. make zbrush prototypes and print them in LaGuardia studios and test them on people to see what interactions people may find intuitive with those objects. 

3. design sounds for these things. Something betwen animal plant and synth, possible occasional stomach gurgling sounds or the like, these things are sort of living and will be sort of grotesque i think but hopefully still elicit feelings of familiarity.

4. read more on posthuman theory and actor network theory and cyborg manifesto

5. contact Donna Harroway for interview


Lious de Bourgeois cat mother ( Nature Study).

Mike Lechey's show 3-d printed in hot pink. The hot pink is my favorite version of it. The juxtaposition of flesh and an artificial robotic pink color is really relevant to my project's aesthetic. 

Ernesto Neto Humanoids and other works (fleshy, biological, fun, oversized)

-Chiaozza paper islands and Piles, Stacks, Lumps & Mounds - Mark Lechey's work in general - all the morphs like the dog without the head etc.

Big Dog Robot at the Beach

Patricia Piccinni (don't want to do anything realistic though). 

I also like the tardigrade a lot - it's so funny and so such a weird mix b/w human and animal. 

I found out about Marcel Duchamp's Wedge of Chastity from the "It Feels like...Flesh" reading by Ruba Katrib  and i think that really works in how the material and form suggests a body but it's not representational. 

-Donna Harroway's non-visual stories about cyborgs.

Inspirations are here in this mood board

I wonder if i can research two topics

I don’t want to give up my first research topic because it’s so interesting to me and I think it will be my thesis. However i am also really interested in socially engaged art and since I am currently working on the project on homelessness with a team at NYU’s DFA group, I figured I’d also write about ideas and inspirations for that project as well in case Marina has some more input for our team.

After today's class I was inspired to think about ideas for the homeless project I am working on with a team that I told you about. I thought we could create a pop up inspired by Nancy Nowacek's pop up store for M. It's so inviting and makes these difficult conversations and issues feel no longer insurmountable. I was also inspired by Ideas City drawing table public work where participants were asked to engage by drawing or writing their own ideas for creating spaces for migrant workers to rest and to reimagine healthcare. In that same style, we could ask people to think and draw what they imagine a good space for homeless would look like or what ideas they have on securing the affordable housing. This would result in thinking deeper about the issue and that's already enough.

The reason why i love Michael Rakowitz' paraSITE and the Homeless Vehicle project  so much is that it shows the care and thought one person put into the project and it's touching and inspiring for other to think "i should also care this much, others don't ignore it and neither will i". Then maybe people donate more or just think about these people with more compassion. Changing perception of the homeless  seems to be the first step. After that, people will naturally push and be pushed to change policy and the issue of public housing and lack of adequate social services will become too big to ignore. This is what Anthony Dunne talks about in his talk “What if…” He believes that we must first design for different ways of seeing. Changing the public perception seems to be the fist step. 

I also think that the way Joseph Gringely exhibits the conversations he had with people is effective and this could be a good approach for our team to exhibit the bits and pieces of stories we gathered from the homeless women over the past year. However I worry that this approach would fetishize these conversations. They work fit conversations with strangers in a bar but it may be too artistic for the homeless project.

I think we might stay away from art and just have an action- inspiring exhibit. We may hand out soylemt or granola bars to people and ask them to give them to homeless people and to say something nice to them, have a respectful conversation.  

 Michael Rakowitz'  paraSITE

Michael Rakowitz' paraSITE

 Ideas city brainstorming for solutions station. Ideas were drawn and written for healthcare, food waste, and resting places for migrant workers. The value of it was just to get people thinking about these issues on a deeper level. Not an actionable activity though.

Ideas city brainstorming for solutions station. Ideas were drawn and written for healthcare, food waste, and resting places for migrant workers. The value of it was just to get people thinking about these issues on a deeper level. Not an actionable activity though.

7 Days: Day 7

Entity turns on an axis to follow human bodies. Object gsze. follows it with it's sight until the person is out if site. This one is probably too hard to execute (eoikf need to program for kinekt and I'd have to work with Lisa Jamhoury to program it to only recognize one person and stick to tracking just that person.  I tried it before and it was really difficult. The entity might have to just turn tiesrds different people. Maybe it turns towards the closest one. 


Dunne and Raby: What If… Crafting Design Speculations

Anthony Dunne: What If… Crafting Design Speculations

Anthony Dunne talks about using irony and humor to make the serious thinking behind projects that handle difficult conversations. I like that. It is a way to hold people's attention workout scaring them into the stupor of inaction.

He also talks about working with the attitudes and believe systems to create different attitudes instead of designing for the actual world by making physical designs. He believes that you can't start by trying to change  the physical (using tech, etc) world but that changing minds will result in the physical manifestation of change on a bigger scale.  the first step is to design for new ways of seeing and thinking. I think we can do both. For example, I like that Nancy Nowacek balances actionable work like M_____ (a project aimed to educate people about menopause) and her more speculative work  Citizen Bridge (explores ideas of public spaces and maybe even hints at the ways to walk on water when global warming causes flooding? There may be more ideas I didn't pick up in her work but it feels rich. I can't verbalize all of it but I feel more than just public spaces and global warming when I see the documentation of her work.)



7 Days: Day 6

An instrument that records the environment once in a while, chops up the input, and inserts it into the existing composition that is made up of previous input and also the sculpture's own birth - the sound of it's making. This composition is played usually when the object is set into motion. In a way, it’s also a sonic portrait of the room because it records both the sounds that go through it and the acoustic quality those sounds have.  


7 Days: Day 5

A set of sound immiting objects that periodically ping one another to start sonic exchanges. One may call on another and the other will call on the next to break into something like a very simple song. This happens without any human involvement. During this time the sound is markedly different then when people can interact with the objects. During these periods people can just sit and enjoy or they don’t have to be there at all :). 


7 Days: Day 4

The way an instrument would say "I'm done responding and need to be still" is by (1) quieting down and sending it very minimal signals as a polite east to say "I see you want to keep triggering sounds by I'm taking a break". If that doesn't work then (2) the instrument plays a soundfile of a really annoying alarm that sounds a bit like a fire alarm.  



7 Days: Day 3

A set of instruments that decides which entity it poirs up with. On the coding end I will have to decide this for the system by assigning these associations to happen at certain months but I will assign a random value so that the system can "choose" which month it creates these pairings. 



System's behavior without the human:

instrument A intermittently (once in x amount of hours that are also random) calls instrument B to make a sound. Then instrument A records and makes a response (not sure what but it will be simple. Maybe the same thing but chopped up or with a slightly different pitch. If I can figure out how to do this again I'd love to just have instrument A send a trigger up B to start this kind of soundscape that consists of an existing rhythmic percussion composition with intermittent chunks of the environment. In this way instrument A documents, regurgitates, and plays back a sonic pOrtrait of the space. I did it here : 

But it was in Max MSP not JavaScript. I may be able to rig this again! It will still look like it's part of the system even though really I would be using two different technologies for it. 


System behavior with a human or other:

A person or even a dog that bumps into instrument A would simply trigger the call-and-reply A-to-B experience earlier that the existing A-B relationship would have happened. If it's a different month, seeing off A into motion would trigger C not B. You just have to wait for the next month to find out what the assignment is within the system. It's fun to not know! What will the instrument sound like next month?! Well instrument C also record bits of the environment or will it so something else? 


7 Days: Day 2

An rhythm-maker instrument that you have some control over but not all. The pitch and beats per minute change unpredictably every half an hour. You must adjust if you start playing and set a rhythm and it decided to change course! Something great can still be made but with a bit of improvisation.