A side project before leaving Denmark>


Thoughts of influence:

The topic I’m about to address or discuss and articulate is not a very new thread but it still amazes me about just how certain class being akin about the fact still haven’t been able to influence in our lives that much.

If you acquire certain knowledge then there comes a responsibility of understanding it’s consequences and properly articulating them so that it becomes a process of acceptance in analysis before an act. This goes in hand with the design field as well since I feel we sometimes overlook the whole picture, system and futuristic speculations when we design for now and do a very narrowed down person-centric approach. This doesn’t mean that it’s a wrong process, it just means may be it’s not always the needed case. (Sherry Turkle and Critical engineers manifesto).

Commenting on another trend here is: in general we sometimes get stuck with a single minded approach and design consequently thinking of one product in centre of the services. This is called being stuck in an ontological design process. The thing that is happening with the phones, apps and other things these days..

Breaking that barrier gives us a scope to rethink and  reflect on how new products, associated interactions and services needs to be designed. In this process objects are said to conform to the mind of the subject and, in turn, become products of human cognition. This way all relations, including those between non-humans, distort their related objects in the same basic manner as human consciousness and exist on an equal footing with one another. This simply means a philosophy of Object Oriented ontology. It is obvious thus when we discuss them they thus simply appear as future fetched or in-applicable process for manufacture fetish generation.


Brief setup concerns:

Now during a course in our school a year back me and my team ended up making a project where a set of devices were as peripherals which could then be connected to certain electronic kitchen appliances to know your food habits, learn from it, talk with each other on the network and send you text based minimal nudges to inspire you for a healthy diet. Now we didn’t wanted to make a very crude product or very cheesy human centric device that would say definitely guide you or suggest you things. We wanted it to be explorative for both multiple groups , the appliance companies and the users. We wanted people themselves discovering and adapting to things and thus wanted to have a very personalized experience. So our articulations were mainly technical and operational research nodes more than any finished product idea.

The idea of kitchen appliancess and their usage and value was stuck with me from then and never was actually further fleshed out because of time or other issues..

Meanwhile recently looking at the trend of the connected devices I found very rare influences which discuss the greater potential or other aspects of the result rather than a selling pitch or another exhaustible product delivery, promising, making our lives easier. This approach lack thinking for sustainability, adherence and future proofing… While reflecting and thinking not just of Humans in the center of all activity but taking into account also the human-object relationship, our whole paradigm of designing for those interactions seems to get disturbed. In a world of complex networks, thus , it is not easy to put a binary decision and singular output for a mass.

Few such examples supporting or leveraging the statement and clearing out what I’m trying to convey would be:

Addicted products: by simone Rebaudengo where it was concerned about sense of ownership and agency in a realm of collected intelligence between devices and developing pseudo-emotions. The resulting reactions were, I must say, influential enough forcing us to think in a bit more relationship based approach as the technology was present already.

Natural Fuse:  is another project by Usman Haque where it creates a city-wide network of electronically-assisted plants that act both as energy providers and as circuit breakers.

His claim was every seemingly helpful device that a human being uses has its own carbon “footprint” which, in excess, can harm other living beings.

Another example which is not interactive literally in nature but is strong in conveying the sheer fact of rethinking the purpose of semiotics.

It’s called uncomfortable objects by Katerina Kamprani..

According to her..

this group of products are aimed at making you uncomfortable by using the semiotics of the original ‘useful‘ item to play with your brain. Perhaps they also give us an important lesson (and appreciation?) in how vital basic anthropometry and function-based purposes really are to otherwise seemingly simple designs.

With growing smartness in products our relationships won’t be as before — “if else” based.. It would be much more complex. But today we tend not to speak about them. This might soon create a sense of “control issue” as over internet we have lot’s of “funny videos” showing the robot maid not listening to it’s owner and making her own decision she was programmed for. Well it could be a serious dilemma, sooner than we think, with “Smart products”

An interaction model similar to – something adaptive would be better suited where both parties might have to come to an agreement may be.

Here the goal completely would then shift from user-centric usability perspective to relation based perspective.

My Articulation:

Taking the previous things into consideration I want to articulate my concerns and look for patterns into new behaviors emerging from these new interaction models. For the purpose of exploration, I want to design and add upon an existing electronic kitchen appliance like a juicer/mixer, following the trend of making them “smart”, but making them smart just enough to express themselves. It will be followed by speculations of further adding up these features to other appliances and their behaviors associated with . Critiquing on the one way of algorithmic dependency of our generation and expectancy of one way transaction of demand from machines, I want to see and bring forward the different reactions associated with them when a smart association happens in real scenario.

“A truly smart product might do something that we might not understand or even disagree with”

— Usman Haque

I’m more interested in designing a  single act which could bring forward a debate based approach to the already existing, not so distant proposition and abstract from those the probable cases.

What would happen when these appliances claim something back, an expression and not just give you results you expect. A material or task based transaction between user and the machine.

Just because their method of logical analysis is different and may be predictable how can we say a single bit computer is not conscious.

A life of their own  -Duane and Raby.

System Diagram :

project systemm diagram

Technical Details:

system diag

Silent chiraw

A well described re-interpretation is present on the project page. Here I’ll discuss the iteration that happened while building that installation.

So as I started thinking of how to best represent that dance form I started thinking of what is a unique act in the whole dance form of “Bamboo dance” and undoubtedly it was the synchronous clashing of bamboos which creates that aura. From there I started thinking of ways it could be represented best. Definitely a mechanical simulation would be replicate such a small act and I started making my proposal.


But as it was getting time to define the scenerios and develop the technical as of how this thing would be made and how it would be acting the space, it’s shape size working etc etc.. I started facing trouble of making an exact mechanical simulation.. Lot’s of doodling went in..



For each thing I’d come up with a complex solution of doing it as it wasn’t a easy sequence of acts (the alternate collision act of bamboos to produce sound)..

If you look at the simplest arrangement and think how to re-create that exact pattern mechanically with motors or other actuators it would get clear that there were lot of hurdles.

dance sequence


So I was thinking of doing it with high torque motors or servos or pneumatic..

So I created a simple simulation where two motors would rise and in the process collide the bamboo sticks and the other two bamboo sticks sitting in 90 degrees at the bottom would be raised by solenoids.

What you are looking at is the side view of the simulation.


But there was something missing.. It wasn’t the actual way it was done..

Then some how t the end of a day I looked at a table lamp and got some inspiration, then I tried to develop a scissor like mechanism which would demand a very high torque motor for colliding large distant spaced sticks, if the installation had to be big. We were also talking about making miniature versions of them in multiples – that would mean they could be done with servos and would act as re-interpretation and not the exactness..


So then we decided to make a re-interpreted version rather than an actual simulation with machines- because I wasn’t having time or money to order and assemble stuff like pneumatic arrangements and custom mechanical parts. Also they would have created extra noise and would have killed the whole charm of the sound produced by the bamboo clashing.

While thinking of an alternate way of representation, pendulums came into mind and the mechanics of swings as well. As I took lot of inspirations from lot of artists who have been making kinetic installations based on pendulum mechanisms..

I did some simple tests of if I hang a string with a n attached weight at the bottom, how would I be able to move it with motors. you can see some representations of them below:

1st mech 2nd mech

motor box


servo hook019

Also since this way it won’t be creating any sound of string, I started thinking of creating an audio ambiance where different sounds of traditional sound instruments would be triggered by no of people around the installation. I was counting people with Kinect and made a small sketch in processing and sending that value to a Pure data patch(via OSC) to trigger sound samples.

This was done over an weekend afternoon as I as sitting idle and had nothing to do in Treviso..

The repository could be found here


Then I found a laying out steel structure in the Fabrica’s entrance to Interactive department. I carried it in and that defined the whole aesthetics of the project.


There were finally 8 servos controlling swing like structures. They would swing it.. wait for a while .. let it roll and then swing again..  It was all controlled by an Arduino Uno.


circuit diag


Some things were tied, some were glues, some were screwed and some welded and remaining were held back with clamps :p

Then we I also started thinking of the space where it would be best situated. About the house we were tasked, there was a garden , I took a screen shot of that from the brief pdf and did some Photoshop to see experimentally where it would fit best. The garden was my choice as the actual act is also done outside


I must say the trial ended pretty well.