icm: squares with for() loops

prompt: The idea this week is to explore re-organizing your code. It is 100% legitimate to turn in a version of a previous assignment where nothing changes for the end user, but the code has been restructured. You may, however, choose to try a new experiment from scratch. Aim to keep setup() and draw() as clean as possible, and do everything (all calculations, drawing, etc.) in functions that you create yourself. Possibilities (choose one or more):

  • Reorganize “groups of variables” into objects.
  • Break code out of setup() and draw() into functions.
  • Use a function to draw a complex design multiple times with different arguments.
  • If you are feeling ambitious, try embedding a function into an object.

after looking at my hexagosh code last week, dan said it’d be useful for me to try the same exercise with squares since the math would be easier than with hexagons.

i started with vars for each set of squares. it looked kinda like:

but i couldn’t figure out where push(), translate(), and pop() would fit in.

i moved to the format below after looking at lauren’s owl code. i got the canvas to fill with squares using nested loops (!) and started creating different functions for different quadrants of the canvas, even though it seems like i should be able to just use the same function and tell it to fill(blue) when x and y are between # and #, fill(orange) when x and y are between other #s, etc. i’m still having a hard time knowing what goes into a var, what goes into a function, and how to set parameters that let me change the color/angle/whatever of one chunk of squares without affecting all the squares ;(

i’ll update this post as i make adjustments.


commlab: bike shop soundscape

jangle spoke single

jordan and i both bike a lot and love bike sounds, so we decided to do a bike soundscape and met at a shop in greenpoint last weekend to collect audio. we had:

  • a shotgun mic
  • a pair of fancy headphones
  • a pair of earbuds
  • a zoom recorder
  • 2 AA batteries
  • a bike shop full of bikes and tools and nice dudes

recording: delightful & surprising things

  • the sound of cloth on a rubber tire wheel
  • how eager bike shop people were to make cool sounds for us
  • how crisp our recordings were of taken-for-granted sounds like bells, locks locking, brakes braking, and chains jangling

recording: difficult things

recorder interface

  • the zoom recorder interface. there’s a lot of functionality packed into not that many buttons. in the daylight, we weren’t sure whether the MIC or REC lights were lit. did our recordings save? where’d they end up? were we listening to something old or recording something new? why were the right ear levels constant while the left ones were changing? gah!
  • knowing which settings to use from the MENU
  • motorcycles! and background noise in general.

piecing it all together

we were inspired by the video below to make something more musical and less linear. for folks without any prior logic x pro experience, i think we pulled off something pretty cool.

Bicycle Sounds from Stephen Meierding on Vimeo

wynne greenwood @ new museum

from the exhibition text for “kelly”:

“Real teenager stuff that remains a central part of my being in the world and in particular my relationship with authority/institution… the whole project could be seen as a study in obligation, desire, separateness and relationship. What holds us together?”

“Starting to think more about the “public” body. The body at the party, the party body, the gendered body. What’s private? When is making the private public a political act, an empowering act, and when is it something else?”

“Being invited into this big institution, I wanted to bring my friends, community, history, influences.”

“Beginning to become aware of isolation as a complex thing—politically, culturally, emotionally. I was tired.”

“how do we give each other the space to dream? how do we make an alternative accessible without selling out? how do we expand without colonizing?”

“I want to talk about how queer sex is this really rad example of agreeing on a reality, like making up a reality and agreeing on it, that it exists, and so then it does. What does that mean in a bigger way, for the possibilities of defining a culture?”

“Becoming part of the/an institution, or at least supported by one. Compromise, ownership, truth and care.”

tracy + the plastics for prez

A video posted by @ken_jagan on

pcomp: out of soap

i wrote in a previous post about a sensor/light system that lets you know when you’re running low on something. the code was straightforward! i just smushed together the last sensor testing lab with arduino’s built-in “blink” program. i don’t really understand why i have to map the sensor to the 0-255 range, but other than that i think the program will function as needed if i just build some physical cues around the circuit.

"out of soap" circuit
“out of soap” circuit


pcomp: sensor application

below is the analog input lab from last week’s class.

sensor testing

i’ve been thinking a lot about how sensors could be helpful in collective living situations. i want to make a thing that would let you know when you’re running low on things like soap, rice, etc. it would attach to the bottom of the dispenser/jar/whatever, and when the analog input was between certain numbers, a yellow light would light up and then a red light would light up. it’s basically a scale with a light system connected to it.

the problem is that you’d have to keep the program running all the time, which is a goofy use of electricity. but maybe it could turn on when the room lights turn on (or some other cue), check analog input, light up if it needs to, and shut off if it doesn’t need to.

loft bed ladder

my room is slowly coming together. i finally got the pieces i needed from home depot to build a ladder for my loft bed: three 2x4s cut into two 78″ posts and six 11″ rungs. i started assembling with #10 2″ zinc wood screws, but my drill kept stripping them. i switched to #10 3″ sheet metal screws which were much sturdier. now, i just need hooks to connect the ladder to the bed frame. and if were acting on my perfectionist tendencies (and had a saw), i would shave an inch or so off the bottom at an angle, so there wouldn’t be a gap where the ladder meets the floor.

loft bed ladder
loft bed ladder

pcomp: whole foods checkout line

prompt: Pick a piece of interactive technology in public, used by multiple people. Write down your assumptions as to how it’s used, and describe the context in which it’s being used. Watch people use it, preferably without them knowing they’re being observed. Take notes on how they use it, what they do differently, what appear to be the difficulties, what appear to be the easiest parts. Record what takes the longest, what takes the least amount of time, and how long the whole transaction takes. Consider how the readings from Norman and Crawford reflect on what you see.

i went to union square whole foods on the way to the g line around 6:30pm. i got into an “11 items or fewer” checkout line at 6:50 and was at a register by 7:00. there are four or five lanes in this checkout section, and the section was completely packed when i arrived at the back of the far left lane.

the checkout line is managed by a brilliant system of screens, numbers, and colors. each lane aligns with a screen that has its own background color, so the far left lane aligns with a red rectangle on the screen, the next lane in aligns with a blue rectangle that’s just in from the red rectangle, etc.

checkout line system

beyond these screens, there is a corresponding system of cashiers with lit numbers above their stations. when a cashier is available, they push a button (i think, but have not confirmed), the lit number above their station flashes, and the number of their station appears in a colored box that aligns with a checkout lane. in this illustration, cashier 3 is available. the person waiting in the lane aligned with the blue rectangle goes to cashier 3, assisted by the blinking light above that cashier station. for the people waiting in line, the lanes are called from left to right—so after the blue lane goes, the next number appears in the green rectangle, the next appears in the yellow rectangle, etc.

i calculated that it took a little over a minute for the numbers to cycle through. five people every minute means that in the ten minutes i waited in line, whole foods checked out about 50 people. mileage may vary for non-express lanes, but this is still way impressive.

i admit that i have not always loved the union square whole foods checkout system as much as i do now. the first time i went, i didn’t see the overhead screens and didn’t know when to go to the cashier or which cashier to go to. the numbers cycled through several times before i caught on.

i’ve easily spent 10 minutes waiting in line at home depot behind 5 people, and self checkout lines there take longer. i think this is a combination of bulkier merchandise that’s more complicated to ring up, fewer cashiers, and the fact that self checkout systems are universally terrible.

side note: cool nerdy article!

A Long Line for a Shorter Wait at the Supermarket – New York Times

ethnography: white people in coffee shops

i have been puzzling for years now over white people in coffee shops. why do i like coffee shops so much? why won’t i just make coffee at home? why does it feel social even though i usually go by myself and don’t talk to other people who are there by themselves? what am performing when i’m there, drinking my coffee alone, working on my laptop in silence?

this may seem trivial, but i think the questions get at important intersections of race, class, conspicuous consumption, and gentrification.

my last “strategy” of performing different difficult tasks didn’t leave behind a trace, an object. for this strategy, i want an object. it’s been helpful to dig fairly deeply into trevor paglen’s work because, even though he doesn’t stick to a specific medium, he always leaves behind an object as a record of his investigation—a book, a projection (or the files to display the projection), a satellite prototype.

i could collect things from the spaces:

  • cups or photos of cups
  • photos or sketches of people on their laptops
  • menus
  • recordings of the overhead music

or compile reviews from review websites.

or interview long-time residents of neighborhoods where coffee shops have recently appeared.

or interview people who frequent coffee shops and work in them.

or a google map with new (< 5 years old) coffee shops starred.

UPDATE: i just found out about this project, which maps coffee shops and median rents in san francisco neighborhoods—inspired by the anti-eviction mapping project.

UPDATE: @socalitybarbie. i love this project, but i’m interested in something that goes deeper/does more than just critique. the critique is the easy part.

what 2 wear 2 an interview
what 2 wear 2 an interview

comm lab: response to the ecstasy of influence, molotov man, & cardiff

The Ecstasy of Influence by Jonathan Lethem

on collaging and objects in/out of context:

“Heidegger believed that art had the great potential to reveal the “thingness” of objects…

The surrealists understood that photography and cinema could carry out this reanimating process automatically; the process of framing objects in a lens was often enough to create the charge they sought. Describing the effect, Walter Benjamin drew a comparison between the photographic apparatus and Freud’s psychoanalytic methods. Just as Freud’s theories “isolated and made analyzable things which had heretofore floated along unnoticed in the broad stream of perception,” the photographic apparatus focuses on “hidden details of familiar objects,” revealing “entirely new structural formations of the subject.””

on copyright:

“Rather, copyright is an ongoing social negotiation, tenuously forged, endlessly revised, and imperfect in its every incarnation…

Thomas Jefferson, for one, considered copyright a necessary evil: he favored providing just enough incentive to create, nothing more, and thereafter allowing ideas to flow freely, as nature intended.”

to which i’d add astra taylor’s comment from the people’s platform:

“Jefferson was, in Lewis Hyde’s words, “a commonwealth man” who made his invention available to all and promoted the progress of science over personal gain. But what open culture advocates fail to acknowledge, even in passing, is that Jefferson was able to distribute his ideas for free because other were working to feed his belly (in his case, slaves).”

there are some delicious ideas and sentences here: the recasting of “copyright” as government-granted “usemonopoly” is so good. and this description of market rhetoric, “a tide of alienation lapping daily at the dwindling redoubt of the unalienable.”

at the same time, this piece sets off some alarms for me. it touches on but mostly ignores the reality that “open culture” rhetoric exposes rather than protects small artists’ and makers’ creative practice by taking away their ability to make a living from their work through licensing fees. it feels a little like the way “free market” rhetoric sounds really good, even though it screws everyone who doesn’t get to determine which forces are “natural” market forces and which ones should be regulated (i.e., most of us).

starting from the position that we need something to ensure that small-scale makers get paid for their work, how do we decide who gets paid and how? if copyright laws are the answer, who is small enough that their contributions to a commons should be protected, who is contributing by drawing on others’ contributions, and who is simply using copyright regulations to profit from the hoarding of valuable information? if copyright laws are not the answer, how do we pay artists when we’re so accustomed to free content?

also, what of assholes like richard prince?

On the Rights of Molotov Man

context matters. my inclination is to side with susan meiselas, but mostly i’m grateful that harper’s exists to publish the dialogue.

Her Long Black Hair by Janet Cardiff

this is neat. a wonderful illustration of the power of sound to do stuff to space, to let you be in multiple places at once: central park in 2015 and central park in 1890.

i like the way cardiff asks you to keep pace with her as a way to keep you generally on the right track, since you’re not actually together and she can’t guide you in person.