Dec 6, 2010

Major Studio: Final Project Prototype 1

Originally, I wanted to create a fountain powered by the release of new leaked cables; each time a new set of cables was released, the fountain would turn on via Arduino. There were a few problems I encountered with this: (1) the only pumps available were 120V AC pumps. After consulting to numerous people on possible ways to do this, the feedback I received was that the element of danger involved with water and wall voltage outweighed novelty, so I am scrapping this setup for the moment. In the interim, however, I will use this as my first prototype/proof of concept:

PPT Fountain Prototype 1 from Liza Stark on Vimeo.

Conceptually, however, this water circuit/cycle configuration embodies the spirit of the narrative I want to establish: water circulates from the future up to the past, drips onto and dissolves the printed word of the present, finally finding respite in the transparent box of the future before going through the cycle again.

On another conceptual hand, there is not as much interaction between the user and the fountain as between the web and hardware. I am also vascillating as to whether or not I would like to focus this project specifically on WikiLeaks or as a general mediation inspired by CableGate. One potential conceptual and design solution is to place an independent container of water above the “past” and use a solenoid valve to release water into the pipes. The trigger to release the water would be a sustained keypress: to release the valve, users have to type for at least 5 seconds, or enough to engage in some form of communication and the water will continue to flow as they type. For the interface they type into, it will either be an email or a comment documenting their response to a historical event or random question or their opinion of CableGate.

I like the idea of the user having control over the flow of water since an extension of my concept involves an individual’s recognition of their agency in defining and redefining the historical narrative. However, the interaction among elements and ideas through the fountain setup highlights the cyclical nature of history which is also a fundamental element. I am looking forwatrd to receiving feedback from the class regarding which tradeoff works best within the context of my concept and design. Here is a diagram for visual support:

Another possible solution that just struck me for the solenoid iteration would be to place a plant (I am thinking lots of vines) in the bottom (future) that would grow up the back and become wrapped up in the past. I really want to highlight the entangling relationship between the past and future that is unmediated by the present. It would also make the association of cyclical time stronger as well.

This also ties in quite nicely with the idea for the original analogy between water and data: both are flowing forces that require pressure and restraint to stop, both take many forms, and both (at least now) are essential to life. In essence, both are intrinsically generative and destructive forces; they can wreak havoc by bursting the proverbial dam or can irrigate and lubricate fields for sustained growth.

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