Look, ask, try, learn

Our project is related to bioluminescence, algae, and situationism (urban and psychological theory). In my research, I was exploring all three aspects. I was also exploring potential connections of those with city water systems and waste water treatment.

look: what are people doing and saying?

The great source of inspiration for me are TED talks, so I spent some time finding and watching talks related to the topics of research. Some are more, others are less useful.

Energy from floating algae pods by Jonathan Trent

  • Biofuels that compete with fossil fuels
  • Algae grow in containers with waste water
  • Algae produce natural oil inside containers
  • Large area of algae pods
  • Microalgae – very small organisms, many species
  • Off-shore is a design decision
  • Waste water + CO2 + sun = growing algae + oxygen
  • Algae are biodegradable, can’t live in salt water
  • How to make algae happy? What they eat, what kills them?
  • Look at whole ecosystem
  • Circulate algae through plastic tubes; they take CO2 and the oxygen is “filtered”
  • What to do with plastic?

Pollution-free lights, powered by microbes by Sandra Ray

  • Use natural resources to avoid environmental disasters
  • Growing lights with limited resources
  • Some organisms have genes that provide bioluminescence
  • Native Americans were using insects as home lights!
  • Hard to use underwater bacteria
  • Introduce the genes to common bacteria found everywhere
  • Synthetic biology: system lasts longer, can have different colors, can be turned off and on
  • Changing perception of what light is and how we use it

How bacteria “talk” by Bonnie Bassler

  • Bacteria have one piece of DNA
  • Humans have 1o times bacterial cells than human cells
  • Bacteria communicate with light
  • Molecule produce light that turns on light when bacteria agglomerate
  • Squids use bioluminescence to “turn on” light and hide their shadow
  • Collective behavior of making light

The weird, wonderful world of bioluminescence by Edith Widder

  • Bioluminescent plankton: single-cell algae
  • Stir the flask to agitate algae
  • Shrimp, fishes, squids, corals – pretty much everything in the ocean
  • Squid makes up light “torpedos”
  • Brush against coral – it flashes light
  • Squeeze part of the animal – light goes to the ends
  • Optical Lure – 16 LEDs to talk to shrimps!

ask: elicit feedback or participation from someone in regards to your project idea

Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to interview people I wanted about the project. However, I was interested in community building before and interviewed several architects and landscape architects last semester. Below I am including the selected parts of the interviews that give a better overview of the issue that we are trying to solve with the project.

Wendell Burnette about canal system in Phoenix
Professor of Practice at The Design School at ASU (specialty in Architecture).
Founder and principal of Wendell Burnette Architects (architectural practice).

Another natural (and also historical) context of the Valley that may be important for designing a unique park environment is water. Native Americans who inhabited the Valley before the European colonization developed one of the most advanced irrigation systems of the ancient world – the canal system of the river Verde. Prof. Burnette recommended a book by Nabhan G. (2002) “The desert smells like rain” about its history. According to this book and other historical records, lives of native Americans was intertwined with water, its flow,  and natural cycle. The modern canal system that provides water for the Valley is built upon the ancient one. It is also important that Tempe itself was – and still is – an agricultural city. Not so long ago the canals were playing a significant role for the city. Cotton trees were planted alongside its banks and Tempe transit roads followed their courses. However, due to various circumstances, this green corridors system along the canals is no more. Professor Burnette said the city lost its character with it.

(From the interview report submitted on September 15th for DCS 598 class; interviewed on September 14th.)

James Hoffman about loci genius and community
Faculty Associate at The Design School at ASU (specialty in Landscape Architecture).
Founder and principal of Coffman Studio (landscape architectural and planning practice).

Mr. Coffman stated (interview for DSC 598 course, 12 Sept. 2016) that, in his experience, creating the unique personality of a place that relates to its users is one of design challenges that are most important for a successful performance of a space. It creates a huge benefit for people: if they are able to form an emotional connection to place, they start feeling that it is their own and feeling safe in it. It also benefits the city, as when people care about their surroundings, they would avoid damaging it and instead would be more ready to assist in bringing positive changes upon it.

(From the interview report submitted on September 15th for DCS 598 class; interviewed on September 12th.)

Anastasiya Yurkevich about paths and landmarks
Landscape architect at AFA (landscape architectural practice in Moscow, Russia).

Ms. Yurkevich claimed that there are two main factors that influence a design. First is proximity to a city center and other prominent landmarks that attract people and influence transit routes and a contingent of a park user groups. Second is social context and existing relationships of people with a space in focus. 

(From the interview report submitted on September 15th for DCS 598 class; interviewed on September 6th.)

I am now waiting for the interview confirmation from a biologist to explore bioluminescence from the scientific perspective.

try: simulate or participate in an activity yourself

How I drifted the city of Tempe and explored the city as a situationist.

The notion of psychogeography as a tool to describe the city interests me profoundly. Taking inspiration from the pioneers of situationism, I made a short dérive in Tempe late in the evening.

As defined on the web page of situationists movement, dérive (“drifting”) is “a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances. Dérives involve playful-constructive behavior and awareness of psychogeographical effects, and are thus quite different from the classic notions of journey or stroll.”

Using this technique I explored the affordance of Tempe urban environment for the act of drifting itself and exploration after the sunset. The questions I tried to ask were:

  • What triggered me to make an unexpected turn into an unknown street?
  • What prevented me from doing it?
  • How do other pedestrians behave in streets? Do they stroll aimlessly, for leisure or do they seem to have a destination? Do they stop if something interesting is happening?

I have started my journey from home around 7 p.m. when the sun was setting down. I have decided to go in the direction of the Beach Park first. In the next three hours, I walked to the other side of the Salt river, was scared to death by a weirdo in the street, tried to find a place I remember from awhile and failed, got lost and used a map application to return home. During my drift I realized several things:

  • There are not many pedestrians in the city even on Saturday night.
  • All pedestrians are hanging out in places of attraction: parks, The Mill street, and ASU campus. Outside of these places they were clearly going towards their destinations, maybe homes.
  • There are more cyclists than pedestrians.
  • There are some people jogging on the big streets like University Drive.
  • I got scared by dimly lighted roads and tended to follow the most illuminated paths.
  • Meeting just one person on an empty street made me wary. If I met several people, I felt comfortable.
  • I mainly navigated the city using light and sound. Music and lights attracted me. Cafes that used creative lighting peaked my interests the most.
  • Surprisingly, empty parking lot are lighted at least as well as pedestrian streets.
  • Most of the places in Tempe look very similar to each other.

Unfortunately, my camera is not good with low light 😦

learn: identify ‘thoughtless acts’, patterns, problems, or opportunities.

  • There are possibilities of energy generation and CO2 treatment using algae
  • Phoenix citizens lack awareness about the canal system.
  • Walking in night requires not only navigational lighting but also certain security levels provided by bright lights and presence of other people. All three factors provide the affordance of urban space to explore using unusual paths.
  • Algae can reproduce and thus pollute fresh water reservoirs, have to be really careful.
  • The act of lighting up algae by agitating it could become an act of volunteer placemaking and shaping the city.
  • Algae can show the street activity and pop-up events like picnics or even street sports.

Veronika’s CapSense

I was trying to create a food-defining plate, but could not get steady CapSense reading, so decided to make an”anti-thief” plate. The idea behind this simple solution is that the plate starts crying and blinking when someone touches YOUR cookies.

Unfortunately, my buzzer lacked a ground cable and my LED was so dim that not even the most cowardly thief would hesitate when stealing my food. But hey, now I know at least 2 ineffective systems!

I have also marinated tomatoes and put them on my plate. That may not be much for the development of spatial interactivity, but! That was my first self-made fermented food.

img_20170205_225435

img_20170205_213941

veronika01

The code (above) is quite simple. I have tried to make a more complex code for the food-defining plate, but could not check completely whether it works or not.

veronika02

Analog Sensor

I used conductive tape and paint in order to create an analog sensor. One of the two LEDs is lighted by the circuit, according to the voltage of the potentiometer.

int inputPin = A0;
int WhiteLED = 13;
int RedLED = 3;

void setup() {
pinMode(inputPin, INPUT);
pinMode(WhiteLED, OUTPUT);
pinMode(RedLED, OUTPUT);
Serial.begin(9600);
}

void loop() {
// put your main code here, to run repeatedly:
int value = analogRead(inputPin);
int ledValue = map(value, 0, 1023, 0, 255);
Serial.println(ledValue);

if (ledValue >= 100) {
analogWrite(WhiteLED, ledValue);
digitalWrite(RedLED, LOW);
delay (1000);
}

else {
analogWrite(RedLED, ledValue);
digitalWrite(WhiteLED, LOW);
delay (1000);
}
}

On the reading: Biology-inspired designs

Hello, all! During the last class, I have mentioned several projects or ideas that you may find inspirational.

GIY or Grow It Yourself trend

1. TED: Don’t build your home, grow it!
by Mitchell Joachim

2. TED: Grow Your Own Clothes
by Suzanne Lee

Also

Check out this cool project made by one of the students at IAAC, Barcelona. It is green wall units with moss inside that produces electricity. (Yes, moss, the very normal one.)

Moss Voltaics from Elena Mitro on Vimeo.

Soft Switch

img_20170120_195344
This picture represents what was meant
to be done but was not (kind of).

PROJECT THAT IS

My circuit with a soft switch has two LEDs, the green, and the red ones. Depending on whether the switch is opened or closed, one of them blinks S.O.S. signal in Morse. One of the lights uses a conductive thread as a resistor.

The red cable connected to the strip of fabric is the switch.

dsc_0025

DSC_0021.JPGI have also developed the second iteration that was supposed to become the project itself. It did not for I have forgotten the USB cable at the lab. Nevertheless, I present it here. I cannot check whether the system works, but it did not change much from before; I only used other conductors compared to the first tryout.

PROJECT THAT IS NOT

Do you know this guy?

1000509261001_1253139612001_bio-mini-bio-salvador-dali-sfPhoto via http://www.biography.com/people/salvador-dal-40389

His name is Salvador Dali and he was commonly considered to be rather crazy. (Although some people say that he was just very insightful about how art market worked.) Anyway, he was one of the most renowned artists of the 20th century. His works were surreal. I would even say they were magical! And I personally believe that the source of his magic was his… mustache.

Don’t believe me? See it yourself!

I admire him so much that I keep his photo in my room. If I connect the picture to the energy source, his eye would light up and blink hello!

dali_01

However, I can drive him crazy by connecting his mustache for once I do it, Segnor Dali’s eye becomes bright red and starts flashing SOS:

Dali_03.jpg

The frame is not connected to electricity now, but trust me, the system should work. Here is the back of the frame:

Dali_06.jpg

Below is the process (or, rather, thinking) picture:

Dali_05.jpg

SCRIPT

#define brightLED 13
#define dimLED 10
#define buttonPin 5

int signalLONG = 400;
int signalSHORT = 100;

// the setup function runs once when you press reset or power the board
void setup() {
// initialize digital pin LED_BUILTIN as an output.
pinMode(brightLED, OUTPUT);
pinMode(dimLED, OUTPUT);
pinMode(buttonPin, INPUT);
}

// the loop function runs over and over again forever
void loop() {
if (digitalRead(buttonPin) == HIGH) {
// SOS
// short x3
digitalWrite(brightLED, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(brightLED, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second

digitalWrite(brightLED, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(brightLED, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second

digitalWrite(brightLED, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(brightLED, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(signalLONG);

// long x3
digitalWrite(brightLED, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(signalLONG); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(brightLED, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(100); // wait for a second

digitalWrite(brightLED, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(signalLONG); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(brightLED, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second

digitalWrite(brightLED, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(signalLONG); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(brightLED, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(signalLONG);

// short x3
digitalWrite(brightLED, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(brightLED, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second

digitalWrite(brightLED, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(brightLED, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second

digitalWrite(brightLED, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(brightLED, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(1000);
}

else {
// SOS
// short x3
digitalWrite(dimLED, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(dimLED, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second

digitalWrite(dimLED, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(dimLED, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second

digitalWrite(dimLED, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(dimLED, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(signalLONG);

// long x3
digitalWrite(dimLED, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(signalLONG); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(dimLED, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second

digitalWrite(dimLED, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(signalLONG); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(dimLED, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second

digitalWrite(dimLED, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(signalLONG); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(dimLED, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(signalLONG);

// short x3
digitalWrite(dimLED, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(dimLED, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second

digitalWrite(dimLED, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(dimLED, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second

digitalWrite(dimLED, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(signalSHORT); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(dimLED, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(1000);
}
}

Made and described by Veronika Volkova.

There is only one difference between a madman and me.
The madman thinks he is sane. I know I am mad.

– Salvador Dali