Mid-term thesis presentation
I made my mid-term thesis presentation, it went well.
Shortly before the presentation, I figured out what I really wanted to explore. I noticed last year, that people tended to make up much more interesting narratives about a project when they were slightly broken than when they were performing correctly. Slightly unpredictable and chaotic behaviors led to people attributing far more complexity and "intelligence" to the project.
So my key research question is two-fold: first, can I create a project that seems alive and intelligent; and second, what kind of results will I get if I attempt to detect life and intelligence in the people who interact with it?
I'm happy with this: it's really clarified my research direction.
I am very happy with taking this in the direction of more "biological" probes, it seems to raise a lot of interesting questions. Most of the feedback was along the lines of extending and exploring this idea.
The guest critics were all very enthusiastic and seemed eager to engage with this line of thinking, and we had a good (albeit short) discussion.
I liked the idea of conceiving the swarm of probes as a rhizome - a single interconnected organism. (Alternative thesis title - "Radio Rhizome").
The idea of vastly different time frames for plants vs. humans came up, and is worth exploring. I'll try to dig up "Secret Life of Plants" for inspiration...
Working with seed mechanisms as both a design reference and a back story for the probes is good too.
Also got some really good pointers on projects that feature multiple networked "pixels", and the use of ambiguity in design to elicit more interesting interactions.
Finally, I located some key materials for building the probes: twigs and branches. There was a huge storm last Saturday, so many branches fell. Unfortunately, when I got to Tompkins Square park, they had already been picked up - 10 minutes before. I'd also missed the tree pruning in Washington Square the week before. However, on my way to a show at Judson Church last night, I spotted a big pile of nice branches in the park! A friend helped me carry them back to school, so now I'm reasonably set.