Break out of your routine to dance, smile, and get weird.
We created an interactive sound installation outside of the Powel Plaza train station in San Francisco. It's a beautiful terraced plaza that is often ignored as commuters rushing to and from the train and tourists waiting for trolleys. We wanted to bring people out of their habitual rushing to remind them to explore the city, look around and enjoy.
Make you look.
Paper prototypes are a method of discovery and asking questions. Explorations varied from site specific questions, to larger questions about behavior change in public space. Questions we explored were:
- How much effort before you pass it up?
- What makes a path inviting as opposed to warning?
- What pulls you in?
- How big does a square have to be to feel like it can be stomped on without breaking?
- How can you get a person to touch public things?
Make it work.
We tinkered and prototyped a way to create a public dance floor.
From physical spacing and layout, to solidifying a reliable method of installing the electrical connections. Copper taped based connection kept it stuck to the ground, and cheap for the wallet.
Make it sing.
My leading role on the team was computer engineering. This was a challenge of working with Processing, Arduino, and the Minim Sound Library. My first step is always to write out the code fundamentals in sentences to understand the logic. That mostly means a lot of Evernote files like this.
Make a lot, and make 'em cheap.
We hand-made 45 15" x 17" pressure sensors. We explored the most reliable connections, but also the cheapest possible materials for our limited budget.
The pressure sensor works by creating a signal every time the 2 conductive pieces touch. Tin foil is conductive and the mesh keeps them slightly apart. Stepping on the panel, the pressure of your body weight brings the tinfoil together through the hole in the mesh. Shelf liner was used to waterproof the tile and keep the tinfoil from ripping when it contacted the ground.
Make some noise.
The installation had 5 genres.
Fog - Inspired by the iconic San Francisco fog
Synth - DJ techno experience reverberating within the space
Stomp - Smashing garbage cans and breaking flass to encourage literal stomping and jumping
Fuck - 80's disco encourages dance across all ages
Rapper Taglines - Words rappers yell out to appeal to a younger demographics
Make an Experience
The final installation included 1 rain delay, 14 wet wipe packets to scrub the floor of a public train station by hand, 2 dead laptops, 85 last minute lines of code under a train stairwell, 24 donuts for bribing security guards, and 8 hours of copper tape installation. Not only were we able to bring our dream project into reality, but we then watched parents play with their children, businessmen put down their briefcases to dance, and high schoolers get shamelessly goofy. This entire process reinforced that I am a designer because I love the magic of designing experiences.
Software Engineer + Sound Design
Lana Choi + Gina Knox