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Staticonic

Matthew Dickey

An abstract painting comes alive as it is touched.

Classes Physical Computing

My sister is a painter. One technique she uses is to create a "canvas" by layering molding paste, resulting in a very textured surface. This medium invites the observer to experience the art by looking and touching.

My involvement in this project is to take the painting (the dimensions of which are about 6 3/8" x 8") and turn the experience of touching it into a larger, more interactive "topographical navigation" by enclosing it into a frame with sensors and lights surrounding the piece. With a Max/MSP Jitter patch, the user will trigger and control parameters of accompanying visual and audio playback based on where/when they are within the physical dimensions of the painting.

In keeping with the "sibling collaboration" theme, I will employ some of my brother's work as an animator for at least some of the visuals, to be presented on a projection screen. The sound design will (ideally) be played back over 4 channels of audio, immersing the user in a field of interactivity that is both a fun and interesting way to experience a small painting and a larger installation.

Background
I've been studying Max/MSP and Jitter for a fairly short period of time (less than a year). I've worked with sound and audio for many years, more recently in my approach to music performance. I've worked as an A/V professional/technician as well, but this is my first crack at an art installation piece.

Audience
Anyone who is interested in experiencing art in new and different ways.

User Scenario
The user is attracted to a small painting that in encased in a frame surrounded by LEDs. Upon touching the painting (which will be encouraged by some sort of signage or verbal instructions), they will be met by visuals on a projections screen (noticeably larger than the painting) and audio playback. Perhaps they will be shocked initially, and then want to try again. Over time, the playback will change based on many different parameters (where they are on the painting, how much time they've spent in each different area, etc).

Implementation
The painting is mounted on fiber board, where I have built an enclosure around it. This enclosure is enclosed in a small box made of wood that houses the circuit and electronics. It sits on a small table or podium angled towards the user, with the projection screen in front of them as they touch the painting. The speakers are on either side of the projection screen (and also behind the user in a 4 channel setting).

Conclusion
Doing a project like this is a huge learning experience for me in that I am a beginning/novice programmer at best. I am learning it all as I go along. But projects like this put it all into perspective: the implementation of custom made hardware and software. I think that sometimes a simpler concept and execution will provide better results, which is sort of what I am after here.

I expect to discover that some users will not experience it as I would like them to. Also some will probably not understand it. Some will probably also question the validity of its existence.