Prototype: Cultural Jamming

I know four languages (I plan to learn more!), and it is fascinating to see that sometimes the phonetics and words used to describe an object are surprisingly similar, even though the languages are spoken in entirely different geographical regions. When I listen to a language that I don’t understand, I tend to associate some sort of a meaning with the words. It is usually based on how hard or soft a word sounds, and the process is mostly involuntary. Another observation is that I have an almost different personality based on what language I speak.

I have a rather complex proposal for a prototype that tries to merge two worlds speaking two different languages. A dishonest dictionary (fundamentally any system that maps two languages) that translates sentences from one language into another with grammatically correct form, but perhaps incorrect meaning. The user would not know if the translation is correct or not. It might lead to a realization that a language is much like a culture than a plain, impersonal set of syntactical rules and grammatical arrangements.

BUGA-UP : Subvertising artistic movement

Billboard Utilising Graffitists Against Unhealthy Promotions (BUGA-UP) started in 1979 in Australia. The movement aims at modifying billboard advertisement that promote unhealthy products. Mostly alcoholic beverages and tobacco product billboards were targeted and modified with graffiti.







It is interesting to see how their messages are buit on top of existing ones. The original advertisements were perhaps the results of thoughtful design process and marketing strategies, but the graffiti mocks the efforts and talks about the other side of the story. The use of spray cans add an element of covert human activity and therefore further contrasts with the original layout.

BUGA-UP website also has a how to page that provides instructions for creating custom tools and provides guidelines and suggestions on how to go ahead with graffiti. This has an appearance of procedural art practice.

Thoughts on Pcomp final project

I thought of a few directions for Pcomp final project. These directions are more like dos and don’ts I wish to sincerely adhere to, than the full-fledged concepts:

1. The final appearance needs to be super-refined. As Jonathan Ive describes good design in the documentary film Objectified, “…of course it’s that way, why would it be any other way?” Well, I wish to achieve this level for all my further projects 🙂
2. I want to make something that is thought provoking and conceptually very strong, rather than a ‘technologically complex and therefore appealing’ project. For example I will like to put in a substantial amount of research, user testing, and interface revisions and take forward the cigarette health damages project.
Next, I though of a few ideas that I find compelling:
1. An interactive data visualization with tangible media.
It was quite fascinating to look at on-screen interactive data visualizations on flowingdata. Data viz is an increasingly popular trend on the web these days as it presents a more efficient way to convey information. It can be implemented in form of an interactive installation that talks about some strong message.
2. Deceptive everyday devices
How would users react to something that looks extremely ordinary by virtue of its appearance – so much so that it is always overlooked – but renders an entirely surprising yet delightful experience when used? For example a computer mouse that looks like a computer mouse, but when used, works as a musical instrument instead of a pointing device. Caveat: This device might succeed as a work of art rather than a design project!

Color Compositions using P5.js

First part of this assignment was an online color test wherein I scored 8 on the scale of 0-100, 0 represents a perfect color perception accuracy.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 9.13.51 PM

Next, it was a great exercise to develop mathematically derived compositions using p5.js. Following links and screenshot show the final compositions that I created: It is a series of uniformly arranged equilateral triangles that act as individual pixels on the screen. Size of triangles changes with the position of cursor. The parameter (hue, saturation or brightness) changes from the center to the edges of the sketch, forming a radial gradation.

Hue variation sketch (The code is available here):

Saturation variation sketch (The code is available here):

Brightness variation sketch (The code is available here):

Business Card

As the typographic representation and subsequent logo design came out really well to my satisfaction, i decided to use the same design for my business card. The first prototype included a horizontal (landscape) orientation with gray print on white paper. I tried making prototypes with wood sheets as well.


I am glad I could show these to Katherine and my batchmates. Although the card looked good to me as a composition, there were few plausible suggestions that I received from the class-

  1. The orientation can be changed to vertical (portrait) format.
  2. It might look good if the logo and the text on the back are aligned in some way.
  3. Back of the card has too much information. Perhaps it needs to be summed up in a fewer words.

I made new designs for the card and the results look better than the earlier ones:



Next, I used a psd template that allows one to create mock up stationary graphics:


Riddles in Sound

For the midterm project, I and Viniyata decided to design a sonic experience where the user controls objects within a given soundscape. As the first step we created a product that allows user to control the ‘pan’ and ‘volume’ with specific gestures and movements with their heads.



The Product :



The Concept : Currently in its prototype stage, this product is designed to foster a series of ‘audio puzzles’ – games that the users can play using only auditory cues. These audio puzzles would augment reality in order for the user to have an immersive sonic experience.

Process :

Schematic diagram


Testing the circuit


Design and fabrication



User testing

Crown Heights Documentary

Gabe’s fantastic class ended today with presentation of the final videos. I, Eunjee and Esther worked on a short documentary that explores Crown Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn, NYC. The assignment went on for last two weeks and I learnt many new things including technical skills pertaining to video and sound, as well as religious beliefs, values, and some background of the Hasidic community.

Hasidism is a branch of orthodox Jewish faith. The last spiritual leader (Rabbi) was in this neighborhood and that is the reason why most people of Crown Heights community moved and chose to stay there. To me it was a wonderful experience to approach these people, listen to their stories, and attend the festival of Sukkoth that ended with a cheerful music performance and dance.

From the perspective of video and sound I learned a lot of new skills and software settings in Adobe Premiere Pro and Logic Pro X. I am sure these lifehacks will come to rescue while documenting my further projects at ITP!


“Shooting Into The Corner” by Anish Kapoor

Somehow I am much attracted to social performance artworks that address the space and time exploring the metaphysical self of the objects and viewers involved, rather than the works that address social issues such as gender equality or racism.

Anish Kapoor is an influential British-Indian artist whose upcoming artworks always make me curious. His finished works and performances make me rethink and refine my own understanding and definition of art. In last couple of weeks we looked at performance and social practices in arts. Technically Anish Kapoor does not produce works in these genres— his works are more into to the post-minimalist league of architectural sculptures, much similar to Vito Acconci’s. However, this particular work, “Shooting into the corner”, demonstrates a major performance.



The performance involved a technician shooting forty pound wax blobs into a corner of a room with a nine feet long canon. It was performed at various museums such as Royal Academy of Arts, Guggenheim Bilbao etc. from 2009 to 2013. The artist describes the resulting trace as a ‘giant gunshot wound’.

The result indeed looks ‘carnivore’ in a sense that it develops with each gunshot, and makes the viewer think of factors such as what might have caused this wound, who is directly or indirectly responsible for this event, and what is going to happen next. Another way to look at the performance is why the technician is shooting the blobs in the first place, what is it that he is targeting, and when does he decides to fire the next blob.

Guggenheim states that the performance portrays Kapoor’s interest in the idea of the ‘auto-generated’—entities that emerge and take shape without the artist triggering the creation. Looking at Kapoor’s works and ideas and responses to recent happenings in the world of art, I would argue that the notion of auto-generation entities applies only to the formal appearance of this performance. I strongly feel this performance connects to Kapoor’s iconic methodology of evoking the void. His sculptures generally present meticulously crafted, highly finished yet strange and alien-looking forms. “In the end, I’m talking about myself and thinking about making nothing, which I see as a void. But then that’s something, even though it really is nothing”, he says. In this performance the strategy involves a trigger from the artist (or the technician in a very superficial interpretation) as he happens to be the one who changes the empty space into high-contrast visuals that are open to interpretations on many levels.

Serial Input: Arduino says hello to P5

I created this application using analog serial input from arduino to P5:

A knob (potentiometer) acts as analog input. On laptop screen, a cigarette burns based on the clockwise rotation of the knob. Turning the knob anti-clockwise does not make any change to the animation. As the cigarette smoulders it gradually reveals a line of text beneath its length, “Go on & you’ll realize that the damages are-“
The knob has a limited sweep of rotation and it cannot be turned clockwise any further. The incomplete sentence suggests that there is still some pending bit of interaction that the user needs to complete. Turning the knob anti-clockwise is the only action afforded by the system at this point; and on doing so the sentence is completed: “Go on & you’ll realize that the damages are IRREVERSIBLE.” Hereon no interactive animations happen in response to the knob.
1. The curious revealing of the text represents how one gets addicted to cigarettes by being interested in exploring the sensation associated with smoking. The processes (actual smoking as well as this application) are unidirectional. One can choose to quit midway (which is difficult because the process is exciting) or go to an extreme end.
2. Just like the damages caused by smoking, the animation itself is irreversible. The user first has to finish the cigarette to experience this.
I’m willing to take this project further by putting in more research to support the interactions and by making the interface tightly bound to the theme. For example the knob can be replaced by something that has a direct association with smoking.
Sourcecode references:

A Logo for Myself

I started this exercise with sketching using pencil and paper. The focus was on creating graphical logos that follow grids, look balanced, and represent my initials, DD.



Soon after playing around for a while with different iterations for letters D and D, I realized that the visual representation needs a strong conceptual backbone of my character, interests, and background. I started writing a paragraph describing myself and this was the most difficult part. Finally I went back to the Statement of Purpose that I wrote while applying for the master’s candidature at ITP. This statement talks about my background, interests, and vision I have for future of myself as well as future of cross-disciplinary design. In that statement I described myself as a well-rounded individual with background, achievements and interests in the domains of art, design and technology.

In the next round of iterations I tried implementing this description with the typography assignment, and results were much fascinating.


I decided to use circle for encapsulating the typography, to represent progress and union of three fields: art, design and technology. The typography looked a little disconnected from the circumference and hence I tried stretching the two stems of ‘d’ and ‘h’. I feel the result looks balanced as it couples the circle with the letters, and also represents an open, accessible personality rather than an egocentric individual. Next I tried different levels of gray and finalized to use 70% of it. I intentionally avoided use of colors because of two reasons. First, I feel that colors these days have clear association with what a logo is about: Blue is finance and tech, Green is connectivity and social platforms, and vibrant colors for sports and entertainment; however I wish to keep the logo well-balanced. Second and most important, black and white looks classy and somehow I associate it with the handcrafted, pure, unadulterated qualities of objects.

So I decided to go ahead with this logo as it offers a (almost) balanced composition that follows a grid of golden ratio circles and uses clean typography.



I also tried using this logo for making laser cut wooden badges: