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Projects
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AB42908610B

Watch on Vimeo.

The title of the piece, "AB42908610B", is the US Mint serial number of the one-hundred dollar bill. If a green back's serial number is its unique identification code much like a finger print or retina pattern, then it can be seen as the element that separates the object culturally from its genetic partners. In this way, the serial number is the green back's personality or soul. As an artist, I aimed to modify the bill - and not completely obliterate it. The title of the piece was decided early on in the thinking process, to ensure that whatever happened to the dollar bill physically, its soul would live on - inherited by the art object.

I chose to do the one hundred dollar bill firstly in order to be bold in destroying an amount of money that would actually mean something to someone, and secondly because the back of it shows Independence Hall, where the US nation was born. The Declaration of Independence was signed, Articles of Confederation ratified, and The Constitution was written in that building. To split this image up into ten pieces and ask the viewer to join in has obvious symbolic meaning. The pieces self-animate, creating a paper rustling noise. Through time, the paper will rub up against itself enough that the bill will destroy ITSELF, and I have delegated the alteration of the bill to the entire audience body. I am asking everyone to feel a piece of authorship in the scrambling of the bill. That idea of delegation or collaboration with the viewer is the only reason I incorporated robotics into the work. I used a light sensor so that the interaction with the money could be indirect - someone's presence is all it takes to kill the bill slightly. The piece also responds to ambient light changes, giving the robotically scrambled bill a life of its own - engaged in a noisy dialog with the household life.

I do not see my project as government subversive. If anything, it questions ideas of value in general. Destroying US fiat currency is not illegal, nor is there a body of law preventing it. In fact, one can walk into Disneyland and pay fifty cents to have their penny squashed into a Main Street Commemorative token, complete with keychain hole punch. Companies sell collectable coins colorized with pictures of soaring eagles and the world trade center. If those are sound businesses, then where is the sneaky bit in all this? It turns out according to Crimes and Criminal Procedure - 18 USC Section 331 that the only way you can go to jail is to alter the money in such a way as to trick the next receiver into trading more for it. Apart from that law, there are also intellectual copyright issues with the graphics on some of the bills. This absence of defacement law makes sense to me. Money is whatever a society can agree it is; that is money's basic truth. If the government issues green backs, it's not that they are allowing you to borrow their property. It is your property - you traded for it fairly, and you can do what you please with it. The area that the government is concerned with is how much value the monetary instrument symbolizes to its users.

I have explored the idea of incorporating money in earlier works, but it was never the main focus of the piece until now. I had also never joined the money play with my main artistic focuses on interactivity and movement in the physical space. In 1996, I was a drawing and painting student in Palos Verdes Peninsula High school. My teacher, Linda Jo Russell [1], assigned a standard drawing exercise in which students were asked to sketch objects from the environment and try to join the objects to one another through imagined fictitious conjoining methods. The assignment was entitled "Morph" by Ms. Russell. Among the contents I scavenged from around the classroom and from inside my backpack was a one dollar bill - which I conjoined to a rotting ivy leaf [2]. I recall from then that the reason I joined the leaf with the dollar bill was wishful thinking - I wanted money to grow on trees. I also remember thinking that the level of detail on the bill was so intricate that I would not possibly be able to reproduce it with my meticulous realism. I later realized that there was a functional reason for such visual intricacy.

In 2003 in New York, I was doing a drawing exercise guided by Billy Sullivan [3] in which I would do a self portrait in a "drawing" medium. Because it was that time and place, I had a very expanded opinion on what "drawing" was, and ended up attaching all kinds of materials to a piece of acrylic plexiglass that I found on the upper East side of Manhattan. Among the materials were my old retainer from adolescence, used bars of soap from my toilet, and the pocket change lying around in my flat [4]. Because it was a self portrait, I was really trying to do a meaningful job and put valued pieces of my life into the work. When asked by Billy later on to explain why I had taped money to the drawing, I responded with the unfortunate one-liner, "because I want to give my work some VALUE." The actual value of that statement was probably akin to the scene in the 1971 "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" in which Gene Wilder's character picks up a pair of sneakers and throws them into a pot of boiling confectionery research, saying "gives it a little kick." [5]

I have always found money to have a troubled relationship with the arts. My parents, worried for my financial future, wanted my art training to be more industry applicable. This rational finally rubbed off onto me from within when I decided to change undergraduate major from art to design at UCLA. Then, the design department was more "design" and less "media art." I saw that I was joining a particular movement or genre that had experience being industry-integrated, hence securing my financial future. Of course I was wrong about that (aside the department switching emphasis to theory-driven media art), but the principal remained. I find that the arts in America have an anti-capitalist tint. I don't know if that's escapist, anti-corporate, or just left-over counter-culture zeitguists from the 1960s. Movements seem to try and resist what is being called "Disnification" ie. the industrialization or monetization of an art genre - much like cartooning in hollywood, or industrial arts in early 20th century Germany. I personally find no shame in creating art for money or about money. I still consider it artful. I also hold no bars on "money-free" art practices because I think there is experiential value to that. When an artist tells me that he or she is anti-capitalist, the first thing I ask the person is whether he or she has had a good experience in selling work or in employment. People I've met prefer to keep the money talk out of the art talk. But what if the piece, itself is interpretting the idea of money as the very subject matter? The conversation suddenly changes. A threshold is crossed, and perhaps a boundary of safety is violated.



FOOTNOTES

[1] - Linda Jo Russell, MFA, California State University, Long Beach. Trained to teach perceptual drawing techniques by Betty Edwards [Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain], Ms. Russell now teaches workshops on drawing and creativity throughout the United States. She is part of the continuing education faculty at Otis College or Art+Design

[2] - image of drawing held by private collector

[3] Billy Sullivan, New York painter - best known for faux naive painting style - similar to Hockney in aesthetic and subject matter.

[4] - image of this drawing held by private collector

[5] - see line 2163 of WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY as transcribed by Aaron Villa in 1998.

EAZ AR/MR Workshop

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Report: FACT HCI Augmented Reality Workshop, Success.

In early November 2005, a forty minute educational workshop experience for 300 pupils age 10-11 was given for the Liverpool FOCUS EAZ (Education Action Zone) for schools in the Fazakerley and Walton areas. The technology introduced was addressed at various times as "Augmented Reality," "Camera Vision," "Gestural Interface," and "Illuminating Lamp." Pupils were invited to step into a silhouette-driven environment and interact with six demonstration programs in a game play mode. Additionally, a five minute slideshow was given by the team (Karen Hickling, Josh Nimoy, Marta Ruperez) giving brief backgrounds on FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) and HCI (Human Computer Interaction group at John Moores University). In preparation for the workshop, Josh had authored (or massaged previously authored) software into an automatic shuffle of six abstract games. Some of the games were more multiplayer than others. Those which were not multiplayer presented limited resource for interactive satisfaction - making great exercises in collaboration, teamwork, and turn-taking for the pupils. The workshop was given a total of ten times. This essay reports on things we learned about the workshop and the HCI as we refined the workshop's structure.

In the planning stages of the workshop, Josh was initially unsure that the camera interface would be appropriate for the age group but proposed it to a few people at FACT. Artist, Carlos "Caen" Botto came back with a strongly positive response, saying, "This kind of activity is very appropriate. The most important needs at this age is that the system have a very evident reactivity (think that at this age the abstract thinking is in early formation), letting the children experience a sensation of control in a very direct way. The other important need is for high physical activity. I think this proposal is right in both aspects. The group size is not a problem. It is important not only to interact, but also to see others interacting with the system. A big group can be broken into three shifts, When one group is interacting, the other groups can observe. On the pedagogic side, I think the educative aspects are centred in psychomotricity, creativity development, cooperation and intuitive problem solving, et cetera." Just before software development, a local toy store was visited in curiosity about which products were targeted for this age range - in hopes to keep the experience from being boring, embarrassing, or too complex for the students. Similar conclusions were reached as Caen's mentions of creative development, psychomotricity, and high physical activity. These children were going to be more energetic than us!

The order of the workshop was originally planned to begin with a 35 minutes of play, with a five minute presentation at the end. The rational for this was so the students would be engaged first, generating questions in their heads. In retrospective analysis, there had been too much preparation to entertain than was actually needed. We soon realised in implementation that workshops lasted for unpredictable durations, sometimes cutting the presentation completely off from the experience. Since the presentation was a relatively important component, it was moved ahead to precede the play session. This change turned out to be beneficial as well. Ideas were put into the heads of the students pre-play, so the play sessions could be more than just play. It was informed play. This was not the only response to chaos. Besides the duration of workshops varying, it was also hard to position ten children in the projection -- it would completely block the projection and although the students were having fun, we wanted them to experience the software in a way that would allow them to comprehend the interactivities. We began to break the groups into three or four, and segmenting each software program into 1-2 minute turns, calling out each group and keeping time. Before we bothered to do this, the turn taking emerged naturally from the group behaviours. It was just faster to impose this early on for punctuality.

We gave very little instruction, and just let the students do what they did. Each group's behaviour evolved in similar ways. As the students discovered the systems, one student would back up so far that the projection was blocked completely by his (it was usually male) body, preventing the rest of the children from interacting with the systems. In the more self-governed clusters, this would result in that person being yelled at by the spectators to "move forward." On the second day, a clear barrier was drawn so that no one could back up too far. This architectural restriction was somewhat of a solution for the "block all" personality type - although this impulse was still observed in students within the remaining space. Students would also pound on the wall where the image was projected, treating the virtual objects as if they were buttons, or as if there were sensors in the walls. The only reason we introduced a rule against the wall pounding was in respect to the workshop happening just in the next room. Other than disturbance, there didn't seem to be any problem with pounding the wall. While on the subject of violence, it was interesting to note the playful violence between boys. Often, when in the shadow space, boys would pretend-fight, as in karate or boxing. This was probably not just due to the high energy levels of the activity, but the expectations that come along with any game-play mentality. The boys felt as though they were "inside the videogame" and were acting accordingly - creating the same scenes they had seen in Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. Violence was one kind of cheap laugh among the several categories of cheap laughs discovered by the students while in play. On the first day, there was no teacher accompanying the groups. This caused them to be less obedient. However, even if on the second day, there was at least one teacher governing the students, the "play violence" persisted with unusual strength.

A special learning group came in - a smaller group with a wide range of conditions. In this case, the most immediate software worked (the sparkling star trails). The initial concept presentation was cut very short and more time was given to play. This group reacted more or less the same as the other classes of children. It is entertaining to note the democratising power of Augmented Reality: everyone seems to act like a ten-year-old child when they try it out. By the time we got to the last group, students already knew what to expect. Rumours were being passed between friends during breaks and lunchtime. The technology turns out to be not as new and shocking as predicted. Each group was asked to raise hands if someone had an "EyeToy" at home. Three to ten children would always raise their hands, completely aware of what was about to come. On the other hand, slides showing Tom Cruise in Minority Report doing gestures in front of his pre-crime computer-cave went virtually unrecognised. These children were too young to be allowed into the cinema to view this movie with that rating, despite its being responsible for disseminating the idea of AR so widely. The popular question asked was "how does this work?" The next most popular question was "Is this an EyeToy?" Josh's favourite question came from a special learning student: "Are you from America?"

Previously, an emerged personality type was mentioned - the boy who blocked the entire screen. Other such personality types reoccurred during the workshops. The "geek" type would get bored of the demonstration and sit in the back of the room with Josh and the computers, talking about more advanced topics like programming (example question: "Did you do code this in HTML using Notepad?"). The non-participant would sit in the chair, or on the floor and refuse to get up and join the play, even after being prodded by Karen or the teacher. Conversely, and more frequent was the over-active participant -- a child who did not have enough patience to wait for his/her group's turn, would have trouble leaving the game space when the turn was over, and would be found sticking arms and legs into the projector from the perimeters during other groups' turns. Somewhat related to this over-active participant was the shouting director, trying to verbally control who ever was in the ring - telling them to try different positions or interactions. For the most part, children listened to the directors. In the end, we fully realise that it really did not matter what software was running. The most entertaining part of the experience was students being allowed (for once) to let loose in a projection-obstructing frenzy.

Teachers sitting and watching the experience seemed overwhelmed. While only a few of them stepped in to try the interface, everyone had something positive to say. "It crosses the whole curriculum" said one teacher, in reference to the joining of arts and sciences that is the augmented reality field. "You have got a mixed group of people co-operating and working together. Boys mixing with girls and children who do not know each other" said another teacher, amazed at how the experience seemed to break down barriers between different kinds of students.

slow fade grid

slow fade grid

screen capture of a pen-trail

screen capture of a pen-trail

stars

stars

stars

stars

stars

stars

stars

stars

squishy satsumas

squishy satsumas

slow fade grid

slow fade grid

stars

stars

Josh coding on laptop

Josh coding on laptop

exploding watermelons

exploding watermelons

scribble pen

scribble pen

more scribble pen

more scribble pen

scribble pen again

scribble pen again

multi scribble

multi scribble

fade grid

fade grid

squashy satsumas

squashy satsumas

exploding melons

exploding melons

Benetton / Fabrica : Rippling

The Interactive Media Department of Fabrica at Benetton was lead by Andy Cameron of Antirom and Romandson fame. I managed to create a few media experiments targeting retail storefront window displays - getting the attention of passers by. This is a screenshot of a video application that records camera input into a history buffer - starting at the top left and streaming across the screen with carriage returns. The application is meant to run on a plasma display and has a medium sized configuration system, allowing people to tweak important design parameters.

CALL 212 995 3984 AND START WHISTLING

A Drawing Piece by Josh Nimoy, 2003. Medium: Computer and Electronic Circuitry. Viewers are able to call this installation from a cell phone. When they whistle, ascending scales make vertical strokes on the "paper" while descending scales make more horizontal strokes. Volume will affect the fatness of the brush. This is a computer projection on a wall - situated amongst other people's drawing artworks. Besides its white glow and pixel grain, the rectangular area looks just like another drawing. Vector-based "screenshots" can be plotted onto large format paper. Premiere: ITP Spring Show, May 13, 2003.

Technical Information: A custom USB device was designed from Radioshack parts to answer phone calls from a gallery land line, while projecting the video onto the wall is a computer program written in C. The output files will open in Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia Flash, Acrobat Reader, GhostScript, AutoCAD, and various Adobe-powered printers.

Ku

Networked Multiuser Art Installation. Japanese Cartoon character teardrop sculptures can be caressed in order to make water stop streaming from their eyes. The teardrop sculptures may behave organically, but that's only because they are hooked up to other random public viewers over a network. It's art.

I was involved with this project during the early stages. The project later went on to be submitted to festivals and art shows, evolving into new forms.

Fujii, Yuriko
Nimoy, Josh
Poochareon, Ann

BallDroppings

Balldroppings was one night of idle programming that blew up unexpectedly into a web phenomenon. I learned that simplicity is elegant, and C++ is wonderful for low-latency sound+image. I also learned about addiction and glucose metabolism rate highs. Although I do not accredit myself for having originated the idea of interactive lines with bouncing balls, there exists a small following in the online gaming community that gives me such credit, particularly when accusing one another of having copied me in their recent developments. BallDroppings has also been re-implemented in other languages by random people, referencing the name "BallDroppings." All this activity is very surprising to me. It is also a clear example of the great power resulting from refraining to mark intellectual property. A lot of people mistook BallDroppings to be my graduate thesis. I don't try to correct this misunderstanding.

Motion Paintings Software

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MotionPaintings was a system I built in collaboration with artist, Rebecca Allen, based on the terrain mapping from her emmersive environment, Emergence. It allows her to easily create a looping keyed path of 3D cameras, intended for motion-tweening at the speed of growing plants. The idea of the piece is that this painting on the wall will change so slowly that a viewer must come back in an hour to see any noticable visual change. The beautiful mountainous terrain becomes a semi-still painting, admired as an abstract scene of blurring colors. Additionally, I aimed to bring the Emergence software to a level in which the system could be installed on a computer by one non-technical person, in one minute - instead of a crew of programmers over several weeks. This software is currently unavailable for download.

Concept by Rebecca Allen. The beautiful mountainous terrain built by Gino Ok, Pete Conolly, Damon Seeley, and Daniel Shiplacoff. User interface design and data-cleaning by Josh Nimoy.

Screenshot and Video

big video

small video

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