All posts for the month November, 2013

Hey everyone,

I decided to write about the artwork created by Deborah Aschheim, the woman who came in to class the other day. I just want to start off by saying that I thought her ideas were incredible, and I envied how she was able to look at such an abstract idea and visualize it in a potentially even more abstract way. Her work in Fuller, for example, doesn’t look like anything much without any context. It looks like a bunch of lights strung up with screens in random spots, but looking at it now with more insight, the beauty of the piece stands out. The look of neurons and nodes is a cool aspect of her art and is shown in everything she does.

The building collective memory of Nixon project was also very nifty because it was an expanding project which started from a few drawn pictures. The idea of a piece growing with more community input is another very awesome trait which Deborah uses in her work.

In all, I really liked her work and am excited to see some other pieces of art she has created.

After doing some brief research on interactive public artworks, I came across two artists; one named Joe O’Connell, and the other named Blessing Hancock. These two work together in a partnership to create art where interactivity plays a huge role. Taken from their website; “Joe is a technologist with an interest in living systems; Blessing is a sculptor with an interest in machines”. 

Together, along with 14 other skilled workers at their Creative Machines Inc. location in Tucson, Arizona, Joe and Blessing have created numerous works of art. Annually, they have raked in roughly $1.1 million from their clients throughout the world.

One work of art that really caught my eye was their piece titled “Heart Beacon”. Standing tall with the dimensions of 9′ x 9′ x 18′, this piece of art is displayed at the Emergency Coordination Center in Portland, Oregon.

“Heart Beacon is an interactive enclosure of light, color and sound that senses and artistically displays the heartbeats of visitors who lay their hands on the piece. This highly interactive sculpture takes the literal and metaphoric ‘pulse’ of the Portland community. The sculpture takes inspiration from the life-saving mission of the Emergency Coordination Center.”

Heart Beacon

The most successful part of this piece is that the concept really engages the viewer into the work. Depending on their pulse, the color of the structure will physically change. This would make the viewer/user feel as though they are having a direct impact on what they are seeing. I am interested in seeing how the structure will react with multiple people touching it at once. At night, this must present a beautiful view.

Something that might add in a big way to this sculpture would be if it would emit sounds that would correlate to the color that is projected. I feel as though this would heavily add to the atmosphere and mood around the work, and the impact on the viewer. This sound would have to only be audible from inside the sculpture, as you would not want to pollute the entire surrounding area with sound.

I wish that there were pieces of interactive work like this around in Massachusetts/ the North East. It would bring life to communities, and possibly inspire others to see what is capable of art with todays technology.

-Dan Driggs




When Deborah Aschheim came to our class, her presentation was very interesting. She is very obviously a passionate person, who is willing to stick to what she wants. I have a friend who worked on the project in Fuller so I was aware of the artwork, but actually having the artist explain what she was going for gave me a whole new perspective on the meaning of the piece. I can appreciate the ‘Memory Space’ much better now.

I’d like to use this blog post to reflect on our guest speaker Deborah Aschheim and the work she presented. First I would like to say that Deborah’s passion and dedication for her work really presented itself well. She gave me a great understanding of what it’s like to immerse yourself completely  in your work and career. I aspire to be that dedicated to my career one day.

Deborah also gave me a complete understanding of the artwork found along the staircase of Fuller. The inspiration used for that art was nothing like anything I  had heard of before. She dissected her memories piece by piece and used every little fragment as a link in a chain, causing each chain to culminate into one general memory. I found it very fascinating that this work of art that I had previously only glanced at a few times represented such an important piece of someones life. I would also like to accommodate Deborah on her efficiency  of materials used to create the entire project. Her use of Bed Bath & Beyond bath pillows and her quoted “alcoholic” ice cubes gave the piece a simplistic feel as well as a very workable budget.

I am very glad to have been able to meet her and learn about her work ethics as well as her morals. She seemed to be able to communicate to students on a level most professors aren’t capable of reaching and she did it very well. Her extensive interest in human memories sparked an interest of my own.

Hey everyone!

This week I wanted to talk about the presentation we had last Thursday. Deborah Aschheim is the artist that created the sculptures that are displayed going down the stairs in Fuller. I found her work to be very fascinating and unique. Never before had I looked at memory as inspiration for an art piece. Deborah was very passionate about her work; I can tell that she is a very dedicated artist. Her descriptions of her piece made me look deeper into the themes and find beauty in something as simple as President Nixon. Deborah inspired me to look at things in another dimension.

When Deborah first began her presentation about her art with memory I was quite confused. How can you turn memory into art? I could understand taking a memory and using it as an inspiration but Deborah dissected the concept of memory. Her work focused on every sense that was retrieved in the moment of the memory. Was there a song playing? Did the house smell like a homemade meal? Was my polyester  sweater itchy around the collar?  Each detail of Deborah’s memory then became a node in a model of hundreds of them. This form of art is a new concept to me and has given me a greater respect for artists.

I found Deborah’s presentation to be extremely interesting. Is he inspired me to not look at things in the manner they are used. I am hoping to look at the next project with Deborah’s mindset and really surprise you all with something great.

I was very intrigued by the guest artist Deborah Aschheim who came to class on Thursday.

I remembered her from a couple of years ago when she had come to WPI to commission an art piece in Fuller Labs. I had never really understood what her work was exactly, so it was interesting to get the chance to talk with her and have her tell us her perspective.  The piece was inspired from Deborah’s fascination with memories.

In class, she explained to us about her interest in Cognitive Psychology, and how humans have the ability to create memories from nothing, and that memory is still something that we don’t fully understand.  She told us about this “artificial” memory she had had from a photograph of her from when she was little. By remembering the photograph, she made up a memory from when she was IN the photograph—when in fact, she was too young at the time to have remembered it at all.

Deborah beginning her art piece on the stairs of Fuller Labs

That is when Deborah got the idea to make these sculptures, one of which is the same sculpture in Fuller Labs.  The piece is composed of different segments, and each main segment has a little display that is playing some sort of video.  Some of the parts of the sculpture were connected to video-feeds, as if the walls in Fuller Labs could see and make memories.  Other video clips were taken from various places throughout the building, and played on the screens.  Some of these videos were direct screen capture that was recorded from a PC in Fuller that someone had been using.  Others were scenes from a classroom.  The piece gives you many different flavors of what the building that is “Fuller Labs” has to offer.

Just so you can really understand, I’ve included a close-up photo below of how Deborah’s little video “hubs” looked. You can see some of the different video clips that these devices were constantly playing.

A section of the piece in Fuller. Each “hub” has a mini screen inside that each play a different video clip. These are supposed to be “living memories”.


One of the main things I found so interesting about Deborah, is that right away she told us she had a “Nixon obsession”. I wasn’t sure exactly what this meant at first, but she explained that she had grown up in the era of President Richard Nixon. And when she was young, the political turmoil of that time had had quite an effect on her.  She was fascinated by the Watergate Scandal, the violent acts against the Ohio students at Kent State, and the event of the only president in American history to ever resign.  Deborah shared with us how she would constantly draw scenes from old photographs from these times, as if tracing the images would somehow allow her to eventually make sense of this.

I truly loved this about Deborah. You can get a feel for her innate sense of curiosity; which is crucial in an artist.  I could relate to her looking at public figures and wanting to understand who they really are. What do they think like?  What was crossing Nixon’s mind when he had to announce his resignation? It’s easy to forget how those who are famous are still people, and honestly, are not all that different from us. Wanting to understand them on a personal level, where you could justify their thoughts and actions, is an interesting, complex, and yet understandable vendetta.

On Deborah’s website she has a section on “Involuntary Memories”, which are about her Nixon fascination. I enjoyed going through these and reading through the different stories and images, so I’ve attached a link to it here.

While working on different assignments for our IMGD 300X course, I’ve been reminded several times about a game from Terry Cavanagh.

The game is called Super Hexagon. Here is a trailer for it:

The basic idea of this game is that your are controlling the small triangle in the middle of the screen with arrow keys (hold left to move counter-clockwise and the right arrow to move clockwise).

If  you get hit by any of the incoming ‘walls’ you die and you have to start all over again from the beginning. For new players this is incredibly difficult and they die in approximately 5 seconds (without exaggeration).

At 10 seconds you get to “Line”, 15 seconds is “Triangle”, 30 seconds is “Square”, 45 seconds is “Pentagon”, and 60 seconds is “Hexagon”. So once you get to Hexagon, you have beaten that level.

There are 6 levels in Super Hexagon, their difficulties range from “Hard” to “Hardestestest”–this is suggesting how hard this game is.

What I thought was very interesting about this work was that although the artwork in this game is all just geometric shapes, it is very addicting and many people I have talked to who plays this game really is into it. As we have done with the geometric abstraction assignment, I felt more confident that an artwork does not necessarily have to be so complicated having realistic objects (for example, 3D art in FPS games). Things could be really interesting with only simple geometric shapes, depending on how the composition is or how the objects are oriented. The hardest difficulty of this game only uses black and white objects!

Another reason why I think this artwork is successful is from the music that goes with the game. The music is done by Chipzel, otherwise known as Niamh Houston, and you can preview the 3 songs used in Super Hexagon at the site Looking at her profile you will notice that her music are made from the sounds taken by the Gameboy, which is why it sounds sort of 8 bit. The simplicity of the geometric shapes, how simple the actual game play is, and the 8 bit music brings the whole game together as if it were a single art piece. In a way, this game could be comparable to the original NES games like mario. The sprites are primitive and the music is 8 bit.

For those of you who want to see the actual combination of the three songs with the corresponding levels, I will post some links to each of the levels:




*Each level has a corresponding Hyper mode level, which is basically a faster version of it. Hence there are 6 levels (as a Hexagon has 6 sides!).

From looking at these videos you may notice that not only do the music differ, the types of patterns that appear in each level and the colors used in each level are different, giving each level a different atmosphere. I thought this was really good because to me it felt that the difficulty of the level corresponded to how intense/crazy the music was.

The patterns moving inward and the pulsing overall also gives the player almost a hypnotizing effect, as well as the repetitive music, making you feel like you are high on drugs once you play enough times. I played this game too many times on the iPhone that I beat the entire game, but I still happen to play it once in a while.

The techniques used in this work may be extended to many different interfaces of media. In a way, the recent “flat designs” used in the Windows 8 or iOS 7 is similar in that they make the icons simpler on purpose to give an interesting effect. Things do not need to be complicated or realistic to be interesting. Since I am not an artist and more of a programmer, I would like to be able to make games like this that do not necessarily need sophisticated art assets to be an interesting art work.

So, I guess you are quite interested in this game now. Here is a link to the flash version of “Hexagon”, a simpler version of Super Hexagon that could be played for free on the web browser:

Can you beat my score?


What’s up guys,

For the interactive drawing project, I decided to make a paper phone. When the user presses on one of the penciled-in apps, PD will play an animation that would correlate with the app pressed. Each alligator clip is connected to its own app, each controlling the d-pad on the MaKey MaKey, while the ground is connected to aluminum foil that runs around the entire “phone” to act as a ground when the user holds the drawing.

When designing the look of the phone, I was going for a cross between iOS, Android, and Windows, with a really clean and simple interface. This interface is a concept of a possible lock screen that would allow the user to quickly access their favorite apps without having to unlock their phone, similar to lock screen widgets.

Here’s a quick overview of the patch; each of the encapsulated patches for the apps are similar to each other.

PD Patch


Overall, making this project come to life was pretty fun! I hope you enjoyed it.

– Dan

Hey Guys!

So last week our assignment was to create an interactive drawing using the MakeyMakeys and Pd. When we were first assigned the project I struggled with coming up with a theme. Professor had suggested to us that our hand drawing be some type of map or story line so I decided I wanted my animation to tell a story.

My drawing portrays the familiar fairy tale. The prince is at the bottom of this path that leads to the princess’ castle. During his journey up the mountain he collects objects that will help him defeat the dragon and awaken his princess. My drawing has four triggers; the tree, the boulder, the castle doors, and the princess’ towers.

My home screen is an animation of the princess sleeping and her counting sheep in her dream. I traced a picture I found on google and added the sheep animation in PhotoShop. I got the sound off of free sounds. This animation is my favorite. I spent a lot of time on it and I am very satisfied with it.

When you touch the tree an animation of a horse appears on the screen. Using PhotoShop, I traced over a video I found on youtube of a horse on his hind legs. In Pd I inserted a sound file I got off of free sounds.

When you touch the boulder an animation of a sword being pulled out of the stone plays. I used a scene from a Disney movie as my inspiration. The sound was also found on free sounds.

The castle doors trigger an animation of a fire breathing dragon. This is the last animation before the prince reaches the princess. By this point he has collected a horse and sword. He is ready to slay the dragon.

The final animation plays when you touch the princess’ towers. This animation is a lot more simple and just symbolizes that they kissed. In the end the prince and his princess live happily ever after. Enjoy!

Sorry the Pd patches are so blurry!


Here is my Makey Makey Interactive Drawing. As you will be able to see. My map is of a beach scene. There are 3 components. A lighthouse, pelican, and fishing boat. The latter two when touched invoke an animation relating to what you see on the map. The lighthouse is the default animation that pops up when neither of the other two are playing. I had an idea for this scene before I started the project  but I did sketch out the map before I began making any of the animations. I used a video from Youtube to sketch over and create the animation of the diving bird but I did draw in the scenery myself. I also used Youtube for the light emanating from the lighthouse but drew in the landscape. Hope you enjoy!