Final: Communications Lab, “A Self-Packing Suitcase”

Self-packing suitcase from Allison Walker on Vimeo.

Due to a time constraint, I chose stop-motion animation as my final project. With a day or so before a trip to London, I took out a camera and made this film. I really liked working with fabric for stop-motion. It’s a lot easier to move around, but it looks much more organic than moving paper or other objects that are inflexible. I hope you like it!

Still thinking about changing my final project idea: interactive plant vs blinky lights?

A discussion Monday night got me thinking about my Phys comp final again. I like the bionic gardening, but I also want something really fun. The other student I was talking with was trying to convince me to do my original-ish LED light board idea. So, at home I thought about it a little bit more.

If I had the time to do this, I’d get 108 RGB LEDs, and a perfboard in 5″ x 5″ squares to measure a rectangle 30″ L x 10″ H. Each LED would be spaced 2.5″ from its neighbor, so that there would be 9 LEDs per square.

The interaction: When a user walks by, the LEDs light up in response. The color of the LED depends on how far or close the user is to the LED board. So, the closer, the more red; basically it goes through the visible light spectrum starting from indigo to red.

In addition, my original idea had sound output as well. Sound might be too confusing. I sort of just like the LEDs. I think this is something that would look spectacular, but I just don’t feel that I have enough time.

UPDATE: Perhaps I’ll just do this on my own, anyway. Seems easier than the UV Sunlight watch, but more difficult than the talking plant. In any case, I need to order ton 0′ parts, soon!

Comm Lab: Audio/Sound Editing

Last week or the week before, I recorded some random sounds. I live in a basement, which helped me get sound clips free of unwanted noise.

Some sounds I collected were:

  • A tape measure.
  • A jar of peanuts.
  • A pill bottle.
  • A water bottle.
  • A discussion between my roommates and I.
  • A hallway with an echo.
  • A street near Tisch.
  • An elevator.
  • A bowl of Raisin Bran with milk.

Then I imported them into Soundtrack Pro and messed around a bit. I did use a few tracks in the program to augment my sounds, such as the electricity surge, rain and drops of water from a cave. It took a while to create, but that’s mostly because I got really into it. And, it was fun.

Here’s my soundscape. To get the full effect, turn up your sound at least halfway. It’s only super loud a few times, which I did on purpose.
extended4.wav (full)

Samples from the full clip:


My (relatively short) response on Understanding Media, by Marshall McLuhan

Text: “Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man : Critical Edition”, by Marshall McLuhan, 2003.

In Chapter One, McLuhan points out that modern media focuses on action more than the content of the communication message. He brings up “somnambulism”, or sleepwalking, which in the context of how it’s used – i.e., “Apple pie is neither good nor bad; it is the way that it is used that determines it’s value” – I take to mean that he is pointing out that new media evolutions allow people to become less and less engaged in the meaning of the message and, perhaps, focused more on the form or even perception of the message. “Concern with effect rather than meaning is a basic change of our electric time…”.

I can see the truth in that. Communications post-internet do tend to be content that fits its intended media, as opposed to what people might expect to be meaningful content. In addition, communications media tend to move at a faster and faster pace. He also asserts that light bulbs are a communication media that, though they are full of information, are actually void of an actual message because they move too quickly for “sender” and “receiver” to communicate. I liked his comment that with technology it could be said that egg invented the chicken to get more eggs.

In Chapter Two, he gets into a fairly confusing discussion on hot and cold media, and hot and cold cultures. I think that if people were not again using “hot” to describe things that are “cool”, which at one time were known to be “hot”, this discussion would be less confusing. In addition, I felt that he lacked a full description describing “tribal” societies and could have added more specific information to describe the types of people he was referring to.

Generally, though, this was a very short introduction to McLuhan. I think if I had read farther into the book, I would have a more substantial opinion of the text.