Final Project & Demo – A study of Sonder

For my final project I wanted to create a study in Sonder. In this sense, I wanted to create a piece that represented the idea of sonder and what it represents.

Sonder ~noun
The realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you.

The piece consists of an arduino board inside a housing that has three potentiometers, a linear slide, an ultrasonic and a push button. Each one of these sensors is used to interact with the ‘digital painting’. The digital painting itself consists of two elements adapted from the Jit Recipe book. Specifically Scratch and FlyOver. These two elements provide a constantly moving landscape that has an editable element on top of it. The consistent movement of the landscape also provides an element to the metaphor, such that despite all the changes that are made, life continues to move on helter skelter, while maintining versions of the changes you made in their life. Below is the patch itself

The random objects generated inside the landscape represent the tumulus, complex vividness of life, the chaos that ensues in each individual that provides life with its complex beauty. The box itself should be positioned such that it is parallel to the painting, facing the viewer. Whenever an individual were to walk in front of the piece or focus on it, then the constantly shifting sizes would stop changing, showing a focused snapshot of that moment in time. When you, the viewer came to interact with the piece. This is achieved by using the ultrasonic sensor. Using the natural noise of the sensor, the immediate lack of noise caused by an object physically being in place to bounce back the signal causes a consistent number to be passed through the max patch. instantly calming the ‘digital painting’. Providing the snapshot of the moment where you the viewer will interact with the piece.

The floating object in the center represents an individuals core, as well as the major changes one can do have in another persons complex life and the short interaction one can have within it. The object itself can be moved around, however the main changes occur when the button is pressed, changing it into one of 5 random shapes. These 5 random shapes represent how even if you have the best or worst intentions in mind, you have no control over how what you do will change them, similarly to how you have no control over what shape it will take, who knows, maybe the shape will not change. But after you leave it will stay in the shape that you left it at.

The piece can then be tweaked via the 3 potentiometers and the linear slide, representing the different more minor changes you can make in someones life. The floating objects position will also change based off of your movements, marking minor but lasting changes. The color of the entire piece, as well as specific parts and shadings will change based off of these 4 sensors, marking the permanent, but still minor changes that one can make in someones life.

In the end, it is your choice when to leave the piece, just like how it is your choice when to leave someones life. When you choose to do so, you leave it at the last state of your interaction, adding to the vast history of interactions that you have had with the piece. Allowing the piece itself to be a study of Sonder.

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