Felipe’s mid-term Presentation

Mid-Semester Report — felipecastel @ 11:31 am

link to presentation here:

Research and experiments:
I’m going to use the presentation embedded above to refer to all the experiments I’ve been developing as part of my milestone # 1 and part of 2 (still in progress). Initially I spent a few weeks looking at different referents that could help me to understand what air is and to recognize its potential as both physical and cultural phenomena.

First of all, I realized that air is atemporal. Also, dealing with air is about choosing one of its physical elements and forms of containment:

Air is a compound of elements such as dust particles, chemical residues that cause smells and other artificial substances created by humans; they all exist in the world as a material form, although their dimensions make them highly vulnerable to external forces. Once smells or pollution are created, their chemical embodiment lives in space (or moves through space) for an extended period of time, even if they aren’t perceptible anymore. At the same time, air is a force capable of becoming movement, energy, sound and even human voice. Air can be also a weapon when it carries hazardous substances; it is also an incredible natural force and the ultimate battle ground between human technology and the environment.

Air isn’t emptiness or void, it ins’t a single thing either. Instead, air is like an clear matrix that contains everything in the world (from life to objects surrounded by ‘air’, to telecommunications and even human sociability).

Currently, I’m pursuing 4 strands of research in this area and several experiments related to each approach. At this point in the semester I want to continue these exploration since they help to advance my thesis research. Perhaps my final milestone would not be totally focused on a single piece or instrument but instead it’d be centered on developing documentation of this research. Both possibilites are still on the table!

The first strand of work deals with sound and voice in relation to the human body as a container of air. I developed two forms of speakers that lack of acoustic cones and therefore they don’t reproduce sound unless they interact with the suman body. I plan to continue this experiments in order to develop alternative ways of interacting with the physicality of sound (air, resonance, movement) and the act of listening. I plan to experiment with bigger inflatables and to design wearable devices based on these principles.

In the second strand I’m using air as a force that can be transformed into touch. I recently discovered the notion of Vortex ring, which is physical phenomenon that applies to fluids. Vortex rings are capable of moving air in such a way that its force can be used and controlled. i.e, helicopters. I also started a small project called “Air Trafficking” which is a whimsical performance based on the idea of smuggling air across national border lines. Through devices that use the principal of vortex rings, I plan to create an interface to interact with the “collection of planetary Air” that I’d eventually have.

The third strand investigates the mechanics of movement and its relationship to air as energy. I’m starting to harvest energy by inverting the use of a motor. Here I’m considering the question of whether it’s possible to create perpetual movement when the conditions (air) are pre-stablished and controlled. More precisely, I’m investigating objects that functionally and symbolically relate to air, such as fans and wind turbines. I’d like to eventually create an instrument devoted to the whimsical production and consumption of energy, mediated only by moving moving from point A to point B.

Finally, I’m starting to find different uses and ways of interacting with the respiration sensor I built in class. For now I’m  still considering different ways of interacting with the data (from sound to mechanics). The goal of this instrument is to explore ways of  transducing human respiration and turning this private action (breathing) into a more public manifestation. Working with an anonymous gallery attendant in a museum or gallery, the project will re-materialize the breathed presence of the attendant in the exhibition space, subverting the relations between artwork and art-worker. This project still needs to have a more concrete context (space, audience and situation) in order to determine the specific design requirements for the instrument.




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