Reflecting intensively on the multidisciplinary collaboration

Last weeks we had a great time working hard on the paper we wrote about the collaboration in a multidisciplinary team. All team members worked hard on the next prototype of the Silence Suit and we made great steps to realize it.

Danielle fitting the suit with Vera

Danielle fitting the suit with Vera

Collaboration Paper
But first, I want to tell you more about the paper we wrote. As a reaction to the call for papers from the Design Research Society, Danielle and me decided to reflect on the collaboration in this project. We decided that it goes very well and wanted to research if Danielle’s artistic vision of Hermitage 3.0 is stimulating the team member’s motivation in a positive way. We formulated a survey every team member answered to verify our hypothesis. These hypothesis were created by our reflection. While Danielle reflected on her own role and how she subjectively experience the collaboration, I took the role of an observer to reflect on it from a third angle as onlooker.

It was a really intensive time because it was very hard to formulate our hypothesis and our questions that clear, so we can compare it to the answers of the survey. First, it went very naturally. I did some research about the contemporary artist and compared it to Danielle’s art practice. Danielle read articles about the collaborations and how designers communicate within a collaboration. We saw some parallels with how our collaboration goes and talked about it. Later, it became more complex. We had some hypothesis and questions we still wanted to research. But what does our hypothesis mean in the bigger whole? While I found it easy to zoom in on the artistic practice, I found it more difficult to zoom out at the end to see the relations with the main question to formulate a conclusion.

It was noticeable that Danielle was the leader within this collaboration of writing the paper. I realized that she is experienced in reflecting and formulating her hypothesis in an academic way. Reflecting on how I worked on the paper, I noticed that the art school context is very different from the real world. Criteria for an artist as open minded and innovative seem obvious to me looking at my classmates. Danielle told me her experience with colleagues who finished art school but still work conservatively. I wonder if these people are artists in my eyes.

In the end I am really happy about the result of the paper. Even if there are some things we could further reflect on to get it more precisely, we made great discoveries. We concluded that there are objects needed to communicate with people from different disciplines. They are named boundary objects because they help the team members to cross boundaries. We also learned that the artistic vision of the project stimulates some team members to cross the boundaries of their own expertise. We believe that Danielle as person and as an artist stimulates also the dynamic of the project. But that is an aspect which is worthy of further research.

The writing of the paper was an extraordinary experience for me to work together on one text. I learned how difficult and important it is to understand each other thoughts in the way that you can think further on the thought of another. We have submitted the paper for review by the Design Research Society. We will know if it is accepted by the end of January. We’ll keep you posted.

Visit to Twente
Because we were so busy writing the paper I had no time yet to tell you about our last visit to Design Lab where three students from University Twente: Stephen, Klaas and Jelmer, are working hard to realize the electronics, 3D printed housing and the firmware for Silence Suit. Vera de Pont, the designer, went with us to look how the wiring and the sensors have to be included in the suit. The meeting itself seemed a bit chaotic to me because there was no main focus. Later, I realized that there cannot be a main focus because everyone is working on his own aspect from his own expertise. While Vera and Danielle tried on the suit, Stephen, Klaas and Jelmer worked on the PCBs and casing. And while Danielle spoke with Stephen, Klaas and Jelmer about technical details, Vera tried to effectuate the first adaptation. I noticed that Danielle took the cross over role between these two different work-fields, between design and technology she was the artist.

Stephen and Vera bringing things together on the Silence Suit Danielle is wearing

Stephen and Vera bringing things together on the Silence Suit Danielle is wearing

Generally, many things do not work from the beginning. So you have to make many trials before the result fulfils your expectations. That is something I really learned from my intern-ship and it is still something I have to work on. Personally, I want to do it right in one step. But obviously that is not possible with such a complex project. That is also why the meeting in Twente seemed that chaotic to me. In the end, I had the feeling that we did not reach our goals, because many things did not work. Now, some weeks later, I realize that these trials (I knowingly do not want to name it mistakes) were essential to come where we now are.

Danielle and Vera working on the Silence Suit

Danielle and Vera working on the Silence Suit

The first PCBs are ready, the badge for the environmental sensors and the box for the micro-controller are 3D printed and they look beautiful. The software and the suit itself will soon be ready. Then we have to bring together the suit with the wiring and the sensors. The next step will be to meditate as much as possible to get enough data to program the software intelligence which has to operate the light instrument. It is a exciting time because now, things really have come together.

3D print of the badge and the box

3D print of the badge and the box

printing and constructing

The worlds thickest block calendar is finished. Last week was spend on printing the 2865 pages, perforating them and constructing the calendar. The printing turned out to be more of a challenge then expected.

The inner peace visualisation consists of several layers of circles with varying transparency. Printing those pages resulted in extra thick lines in other parts of the print. To solve this the layers had to be flattened and saved in a PDF 1.3 document. As it took me quite some time to figure out how this is done, this is how I solved it. I opened the document in Acrobat and saved it as a PostScript file. I then opened it in Acrobat Distiller and saved it as PDF/X-3:2002. The whole process took a couple of hours because hundreds of pages had to be flattened. It took the printer around 8 hours to print the whole document! Thanks again to Tiggelman, they’ve done a great job.

After the printing was done I went to the print workshop at St Joost art academy, thanks to John too. Here I perforated 1400 pages by hand with the nice stamp perforation. After I got the hang of it and managed to perforate 4 or 5 leaves at a time it only took me around 6 hours in total.

Then the pages and tab sheets had to be cut and drilled (also done by Tiggelman). I then had two big stacks of pages which had to put into the right order. I then added the tabs and noted the years on them.

The final challenge was to actually build the calendar by pushing the pipes through the drill holes and slowly building one big stack. I had to use small stacks of around 50 pages. The whole was secured by using a long piece of threaded end inside the pipe and rings with wing nuts. Inside the pipe was also strong rope to hang the calendar from the ceiling.

Looking forward to the exhibition: FINAL SHOW 20 april – 23 june at Lokaal 01, Kloosterlaan 138, Breda. Together with 200 other artists.

calendar perforation

Being able to tear of pages is an important part of the calendar. So I’ve been investigating the possibilities. At first I hoped the printer, Tiggelman, would just do it for me. Alas their perforation turned out to be too vulnerable. The nice people at St Joost art academy and office supplies Benoist gave me the opportunity to test two different systems for perforation: one with a blade and the other with punch holes:

The top page has a stamp perforation. The stack is one year. This gives me insight into the size and weight of the calendar. The total weight will be around 5 kilogram. The thickness will be around 32 cm.

I still haven’t decided which perforation to use. I will have to do it by hand whichever one I choose. But the ease in which the papers can be torn off will be decisive.

test prints

Today I went to make test prints and the results look very promising.

The people at Tiggelman repro were very helpful. They suggested I use a paper called Reviva which has a nice newspaper look. The lines I use in my design are only 0.4 pixels thick and the lighter ones were barely visible when I printed them on my printer. But at Tiggelman they’ve got a very good printer which can print those lines and gives very sharp prints in general. This is necessary as lots of lines are very subtle. They will print a test stack of 500 pages and do all the manipulations like drilling and perforating. I’m really looking forward to holding that first stack in my hands.

virtual to paper

I managed to convert the micro-diary to PDF output. It’s quite moving to see my virtual diary which has spend almost eight years in a database printed on paper. There’s is no layout yet, that will follow later. I have to make sure the it is technically feasible and then I can start tweaking the appearance.

Update @ 11/3/13 I’ve now got a 2867 page pdf file of A5 format:

hardware progress

I’ve been working with plastic and paper to create different device prototypes. I was very happy with look of the plastic prototype. I want the design to be light:

The part I like most is where I stitched the plastic together with nylon thread:

But when I did 30 minutes of meditation wearing the device I nearly suffered from hyperventilation. It was so stuffy. Something that was less obvious when I worked with the paper prototypes. Also the plastic became steamed very quickly which points to the greenhouse effect it houses.

So I’ve switched back to paper. That has the advantage that it works a lot quicker and that you can glue the parts. Also the data is a lot more stable over time. The only thing that still needs looking into is how to make the edge of the cone comfortable. I’ve used the soft part of Velcro until now but it comes lose. I’m now considering felt. It is a beautiful combination with paper. I must decide quickly now because I still need to make 5 items.

The electronics are done, I need to calibrate a few more wind sensors like this:

But I’m getting the hang of it. It needs a soft subsurface (not shown). Asserting pressure on the sensor board influences the values… We keep learning :)

portrait as data

During my month of muteness I record a minute long video everyday around 12 o’ clock. I hope that my face will tell the story of what it is like not to speak for a month. I’ve looked at some footage and want to make three interaction modes with the data: 1) all films playing along side each other 2) stills from the film stacked on top of each other using transparency to see the facial expression change 3) a sliced portrait that shows 28 days in one face, rolling over will play the days’ video. I’ve made a sketch for that earlier.

I made some paper sketches when designing. – Note the cut out cursor on the sliced portrait :D


Drawing breath 2nd version

I’ve improved the drawing ‘machine’ using velcro to make the position of the
brush more flexible. I’ve used toilet paper but this certainly doesn’t have
the refinement of rice paper. It just looks like used toilet paper whilst
the rice paper tests look like drawings. The roll of paper is three minutes of breathing, btw.