Computational Media

My original inspiration to join this class comes from the IM final show in Shanghai. When I saw many amazing works that students made and played with them were super fun. I also want to make something like theirs, so I am so lucky to get into Intro to IM class in Abu Dhabi for my first study away semester. As I came here, everything was new and seems a little bit overwhelming for me. And the first assignment gave me a chance to start to notice and observe interactions in our living environment.


At the beginning of this class, I thought the course content would be all about computer programming and circuits and struggled in coding. Arduino and processing are what we need to work with, which was not easy for me without computer science background. At that time, computational media for me is about coding and engineering. However, the experiences of thinking and working on projects, seeing more projects and artworks have been done this semester all help me change me mind gradually. Computational media is not only about computer program but also ideas and strategies. What stopped me should not be code because coding is only a way or an approach to help me with what I want to make.


The most important thing I learned this semester is not arduino or processing but how to make ideas become true. For each assignment, I need to generate ideas first and think of my expected effects. To make these ideas happen, what we learned in the class start to work. In addition, open sources from internet can also help me. My ideas are not limited to what elements in Arduino kit but things I want to make. Besides, these ideas can make me satisfied is not enough, audience’s feeling is also important to consider. Because our projects are supposed to be something that people can interact with. What will happen at the moment people see and play with these projects? Are projects meaningful or useful? We are always trying to find something useful, but what can be called useful? In my mind, I don’t need to intend to make things are filled with meanings but can bring others some ideas and happiness. Like the useless machines we made, they brought us so much fun and open our ideas widely.


Our class trip to Sharjah Light Show is special for me. Though it was my second time to go there, I got many different ideas with the first time when I had different perspectives to see those works. One of my favourite work is Anthony Maccall’s “You and I, Horizontal”. It is a “solid light” set in a dark room by using a video projector, haze machine and computer scripting as its medium. The video projector projects white light towards the wall, we can see the path of the light clearly in the dark with the help of haze in the air. The path of light shows a “solid light” to viewers, the solid light looks not like a simple ray but separated different configurations of a line. People can walk around or into the solid light to experience the interaction with light. As Maccall said, “it is also like a film, because even as you explore it, it will gradually develop and change”. When you stand in the light, you can see the shape of surface of light, several surfaces intersperse with each other, which makes this three-dimensional space show to viewers clearly. Maccall uses the space creates “a complex sculptural form in a state of slow, continuous mutation”. The setting and techniques of this installation look very simple, however, it can have viewers interact with light and see in different perspectives. People can achieve interacting with the work and start to think about it.


I brought the idea that people can interact with my project and have fun. My partner and I use people’s real movement to control the feature in computer game. When people jump on our trampoline, their face will show in the game and jump to cross obstacles. It seems simple to do it, however, we got many different problems when make the game. I have a strong feeling that I’m not learning computer science any more, the process is more about how to find a right way among many possible ways. We tried three different possible sensors, they are supposed to have the ability to work, however, the outcomes are not as we think. Everything is possible, but we still need to find a right way for us.


Thinking of something different, opening mind, finding more possibilities and starting to do are what computational media teached me.

Leave a Reply