Bird Machines Snapfit Construction Kit

As part of FabAcademy week 3 I had to design and produce a snapfit construction kit with the lasercutter. Requirement was that the kit can be put together in many ways (without glue or other things, just by snapping it together). I created an iteration of my steampunk bird machine, and I love the crazy result! Especially the shadows it casts. Find documentation here (not all parts work as intended)

Some pictures:

And the SVG file :) It won’t show until you open it in Illustrator. Or in Inkscape (be sure to set the view to “outline” otherwise it will look like there’s nothing because the lines are 0.001pt thick).

FabAcademy 2015 – learning learning learning more

My first ever Rhino model! yerrrr

Two weeks ago I started the long anticipated FabAcademy training at my local fablab in Amsterdam at de Waag. I think the last time I learned so many new skills and concepts in one week was when I was doing my Master’s at Goldsmiths. Amazingly good to have the brain and the hands fired up to 100 again.

The training lasts 20 weeks and teaches you everything you need to know if you want to work in a maker space or want to run a Fablab. Great because that’s exactly what I plan to do more at work (at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences). I am keeping records of everything I’m learning on my local fabsite, which I won’t post here. But feel free to have a look at what I’m up to here.

Games4Amnesty: Mr. Powerful

For Amnesty Netherlands, one of my student teams developed Mr Powerful in fall 2014: a game that let students experience, in a playful way, how Amnesty International takes action against the violation of Freedom of Speech and persuade students to contribute to this cause. In the game you play the oppressor who violates Human Rights and is therefore criticised by different channels. As a player you experience the rising pressure. It is up to you to withstand the pressure and remain calm.

 Play the game!

Interactive Cinema

How can you create an interactive story with 360 degree footage for oculus rift?

I coached a team of students who worked on this project in collaboration with Lectorate Games&Play’s researcher Mirjam Vosmeer. AVROTROS and their cultural hub VondelCS, and VR pioneers from WeMakeVR.

Using live action 360 degree footage the team created an interactive narrative experience for the Oculus Rift to explore how stories can be told in virtual reality. During the experience, you are not just passively watching a story, but you are a character who can actively influence how the narrative unfolds.

In A Perfect Party you, as the main character are hosting a get-together for your best friend who wants to propose to his girlfriend. Everything depends on you to make the party a success: potential disaster is everywhere. By looking around and interacting with the environment you may try to prevent things from running out of control. It’s up to you to make this party perfect.

About MediaLAB Amsterdam

I’ve been project manager at the MediaLAB since February 2013.

MediaLAB Amsterdam conducts applied research by developing innovative interactive media applications for design problems. We work with final year students from various disciplines and countries, who work in teams of 4 towards a tested prototype that they present at the end of their design & research project. Project assigners come from government orgs, Dutch SMEs & large international corporates from across fields of IT, media, city making, education, culture, healthcare and other fields. They bring in Digital Media & ICT related problems, societal challenges, ideas or innovation issues.

We’ve worked with Cisco, NOS, IKEA, ProRail, City of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Light Festival, Dropstuff, Beeld&Geluid, Arkin, Ordina, AVROTROS, WeMakeVR, Submarine, TWC and many others.

Tinkering vs. Prototyping workshop

Tamara and I tried out a different format to get the students to think about tinkering and prototyping. Both have in common that they celebrate early failure as a way to learn quickly and deeply about your ideas and prototypes. We asked the students to create paper prototypes – always a big hit and a huge surprise – and to tinker for an hour with a prototyping tool they were unfamiliar with and report back what they learned. I really enjoy facilitating these sessions and using whatever comes up in the room as an opportunity to learn something about the creative making process together. Awesome day, always too little time awwwww. We can’t get enough!

Visual communication workshop

Last Friday I facilitated a small workshop in the basics of visual communication. The student teams worked on some small exercises to help make their communication within their team – and to the outside – better by making it more visual in simple ways. Armed with only paper and markers, the students practiced their drawing skills, their ability to translate concepts into quick drawings, and they learned some tricks to make better use of the canvas and guiding the viewers’ attention to what’s important. It was hot, and it was reallllly the end of the week but we laughed really hard. Some showed their natural ability to think visually, others made massive improvements just be learning a few small tricks. Awesome!

Transmedia Analytics

In the spring ’14 semester I coached the project Transmedia Analytics, a collaboration between interactive production company Submarine, University of Amsterdam, and MediaLAB Amsterdam.

This project goal was to capture a variety of data points from two interactive web based documentaries (The Last Hijack and Unspeak) and present these data in a way that allows the producers get an understanding of how audiences engage and interact with their creation, and enrich the user experience accordingly. This resulted in a custom designed analytics dashboard tool: Figures. The progress of the project was documented on the students’ project blog.

“Dancing the Digital” published on VVVNT

A short article of mine was published on VVVNT recently, dealing with the expressive and philosophical potential of performance practices combining dance improvisation and live coding.VVVNT is an online journal, forum, & project space for sharing ways of thinking with practical connections across time, scale, system, & discipline.

Tinkering at the minor Intelligent Environments

I made an excursion to another HvA location to give a workshop tinkering to students of the minor Intelligent Environments. These students, mostly from rather techy backgrounds like Software Engineering, Game Development etc are quite a different target group from the design & humanities students I’m normally used to at the MediaLAB.

For this workshop we took the better part of a whole day, and worked in multiple iterations to let students think about alternative interfaces, playful interactions and how you can work with objects as interface. To understand the important role the design of an interface plays in an any interaction. The students were asked to find an interesting – or boring – object and take it as a starting point to come up with a playful installation. To let the meanings, connotations and affordances the object embodies be leading in the kind of installation you will build. I found it very useful to have a number of show and tell rounds – with a gaming expert even! – to help the students improve their ideas and ways of executing them. Although the creative process was somewhat out of the comfort zone of some students, they all made tremendous efforts and progress in the course of the day.

My absolute favourite is this weirrrrd granny interface for a classic racing game using a walker (NL:rollator) :D