Sunday, December 10, 2006

More about alter-ego images in the media ...

I read the blog of Jeff Lieberman and found this campaign for real beauty by Dove and through the comments I also discovered this swedish campain.

The idea behind the campaign is to make women aware of how altered these images can be and how our vision of beauty can be distorted. The campaign of Dove is pretty clever in bringing us through all the steps of the woman metamorphosis. From makeup & light to digital edition. You can watch the movie here. Photoshop, le meilleur ami de la femme!

It seems to me that this ad tells us more than just the woman metamorphosis through editing. It also talks about the authority of the consumer. It of course plays an important role on accusing the fetishized repetition of Alter-Ego images in the media.

For the discussion, I readapted the semiotic identity square from Metz, Christian; “The Imaginary Signifier”, from Apparatus Theory., pp408-439.

Considering identity made of the self and the others (the mirror), the ego (our internal definition of identity) made of the self and the no-other, the alter ego (fantasy identity) that does not include the self neither the other, and the object (no self, other). The characters presented on these ads are unreal, fictional and the emotional resonance with the viewer cannot be of an identification, because the identities are impossible. However these images represent an alter ego, an alter-identification. An attachment to the image as an Alter Ego. Through these images, individuals try to reconcile the alter ego and identity such as they correspond to the ego. They end up forcing the alter ego image into the mirror, and end up into phenomena such as anorexia, aesthetic surgery and so on.

Gucci ad used as reference point
An interesting reference on the subject is the semiotic analysis of high fashion advertising by Alan Rhodes and Rodrigo Zuloago (2003). Here is the .pdf of the paper.

However, the Dove campaign tells us more. By giving authority to the viewer, it mentions a new area for advertisement . It talks to this naive consumer that has not overcome the manipulation of the media. However is also implies that there is another consumer that has already overcome this manipulation. This campaign tries to satisfy both consumers.
Hugo Liu has analyzed the passage from being a naive consumer to being the superconsumer, the one that is self-constructed culturally and can freely choose the culture that will fulfill him/her. An idealistic view of the after post-modern area and another paper that makes you feel good of being multicultural... .pdf of the paper.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Peter Welz

For the context of the class, Helen Mirra invited the sculptor Peter Welz. He also reviewed my work on inside/outside and shared with me his approach from studying the figure to lastly using the figure as a tool. I am fascinated by his process. During his trajectory, he sculpted and casted the figure to later get rid of its cast to only project the figures onto structural spaces.

Today, Peter Welz gave a talk at the Harvard Film Archive, Carpenter Center. He presented a selection of work expressing the relationship between the space and being.
In the following work, a line is projected on a concrete wall. By blowing onto the camera, the line vanishes and disappear to present a plain concrete wall; as the artist stops blowing, the line reappears.

line | vanishing | disappearing | breath | aspirate |
onto fake concrete wall | concave, Berlin 2004
video projection onto a fake concrete wall, 550 x 280 cm, 30 min Loop on DVD

In this work, Peter Weltz translates a unfinished portrait from Francis Bacon into figure movements.

retranslation | final unfinished portrait (francis bacon) | figure inscribing figure | [take 02] Installation view Musée du Louvre
Photo: © Musée du Louvre / Angèle Dequier © Peter Welz / DACS & the Estate of Francis Bacon

study | w.forsythe re-translating the unfinished portrait by francis bacon
colour print on acitate/paper, permanent marker, gaffa tape 61cm x 86 cm, 2005 (© Estate of Francis Bacon | Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Prediction market for corruption

For our pro-seminar class, a PhD requirement, Stefanie Tellex, Noah Vawter and Aaron Zinman and I am designing a prediction market for corruption. Our idea is that citizen can bet on the next congress that will be indicted.

Looking for visual tools and data analysis, I have found on Jaiunblog, the observatoire presidentiel web site.

It is an interactive presidential observatory. It allows individuals to visualize a tendançologue to follow the media popularity of main political French figures estimated for this election and this until the presidential elections of 2007.
The interactive µtendançologue considers also news from blogs, newsgroup, online press. It allows the user to compare between presidential online press.
This online observatory also proposes an interactive political blogopole map. The map represents the total of citizen's blogs that bring up political debates in France.

The Blogopole and a close-up on the French Green party

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Revigators

Adam showed me an amazing web site on radioactivity. All you want to know about the cool products that contain radiation from uranium are listed here.

My favorite pick

The idea is that you drink the water coming out of this revigator. The radioactive water is exceptionally healthy for you according to studies (see below). Theodore Gray (the author of this web-catalog on uranium) proposes a nice parallel to our current expectations of what is "natural", assuming natural is pure and unharmful. This object came from a time where radioactivity was considered "natural".

The claim that it can't possibly be harmful because it's not a drug or medicine, it's all natural. The "it" being radon gas, which is now known to be one of the most powerfully toxic substances in the world, so toxic that even barely measurable concentrations from natural sources are a problem in many people's houses.

The study

Here is the book that describes the revigator.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

An outside of the dysmorphic body

Screenshots from the video

In this sculpture the dysmorphic body is reappropriated to create an outside of the body and therefore exemplify its disproportion.

Screenshots from the video

For this video, I arranged lights and shadows to create a positive out of a negative impression that I carved in the mold. I reappropriate the dysmorphic body and through the camera I confuse the eye of the viewer and create the illusion of a body being carved. Finally, I end the video by using a string to present the illusion trick to the viewer, the string is a link between the inside and the outside.

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Material: plaster
Video: Raw data with no editing

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Effects of a Snoezelen on self-injury and aggression

Attribution: Photo of a snoezelroom at Het Balanske, Halensebaan 2, 3390 Tielt-Winge, Belgium by Michaël RY Laurent, Belgium.

Snoezelen or controlled multisensory stimulation is used for people with (severe) mental disabilities, and involves exposing them to a soothing and stimulating environment, the "snoezelen room". These rooms are specially designed to deliver stimuli to various senses, using lighting effects, color, sounds, music, scents, etc. The combination of different materials on a wall may be explored using tactile senses, and the floor may be adjusted to stimulate the sense of balance.
Originally developed in the Netherlands in the 1970s, snoezelen rooms have been established in institutions all over the world (like in Germany, where more than 1200 exist).
Snoezelen might be beneficial to people with autism and other developmental disabilities, dementia, and brain injury. However, research on these matters is scarce, with variable study designs.[1] [2]
[1]Chung JCC, Lai CKY. Snoezelen for dementia. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2002, Issue 4. Art.
[2]Lancioni GE, Cuvo AJ, O'Reilly MF. Snoezelen: an overview of research with people with developmental disabilities and dementia. Disabil Rehabil. 2002; 24: 175-84.
by Wikipedia

Effects of Snoezelen room, Activities of Daily Living skills training, and Vocational skills training on aggression and self-injury by adults with mental retardation and mental illness. Res Dev Disabil. 2004 May-Jun;25(3):285-93. By Singh NN,
Lancioni GE, Winton AS, Molina EJ, Sage M, Brown S, Groeneweg J.
Abstract Multi-sensory stimulation provided in a Snoezelen room is being used increasingly for individuals with mental retardation and mental illness to facilitate relaxation, provide enjoyment, and inhibit behavioral challenges. We observed aggressive and self-injurious behavior in three groups of 15 individuals with severe or profound mental retardation and mental illness before, during, and after being in a Snoezelen room. All participants were receiving psychotropic medication for their mental illness and function-derived behavioral interventions for aggression, self-injury, or both. Using a repeated measures counterbalanced design, each group of participants was rotated through three experimental conditions: Activities of Daily Living (ADL) skills training, Snoezelen, and Vocational skills training. All other treatment and training activities specified in each individual's person-centered plan were continued during the 10-week observational period. Both aggression and self-injury were lowest when the individuals were in a Snoezelen room, followed by Vocational skills training and ADL skills training. The levels in the Snoezelen room were significantly lower than in both the other conditions for aggression but only in ADL skills training for self-injury. The difference in levels before and after Snoezelen were statistically significant with self-injury but not with aggression. The order of conditions showed no significant effect on either behavior. Snoezelen may provide an effective context for reducing the occurrence of self-injury and aggression.
PMID: 15134793 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Michael Graves and universal design

Discussing about Universal Design with my research group, Amanda showed us the fascinating work of Michael Graves featured in Metropolis magazine.

"People who become disabled have to radically redesign their outlook about the physical world," Graves says, remembering the first days after he was out of danger and learning to live with paralysis. "They redesign their sense of privacy and their sense of independence. Yet in the products they have to use, design has abandoned them."

The following is a very nice cane-bag combo, cane that can be hidden at any time.

This model folds into a built-in padded nylon bag. The latter was developed after Peschel and his team noticed that people often like to keep folding canes out of sight in a bag or purse. Getting it manufactured, however, was tricky: the designers ultimately had to find one factory to make the bags, then a second to assemble the cane into it.—M.C.
Courtesy Michael Graves Design Group

Shower Heads
Graves Design developed two handheld shower-spray products, both in white injection-molded plastic with blue overmolded rubber grips. The smaller one was designed to fit in the palm of the hand; people with arthritis or dexterity problems can comfortably use it without a tight grip. A swivel connector at the base allows the unit to spin without twisting the attached hose (it also fits into standard shower holders). —M.C.
Joe Andris/courtesy Michael Graves Design Group

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Semiotic principles for practical design

I recently gave a lecture for the Tangible Interfaces class lead by Professor Hiroshi Ishii. I presented my process of design from a Graphical User Interface to a Tangible User Interface. I also introduced semiotic principles for practical design in the form of a design assignment.

I introduced a visual aesthetic process to bring the students into re-thinking their own process from their first ideas to the conceptualisation of their project.

The visual aesthetic production process by Howard Riley (2004)

The main point is that social and individual percepts are codified into material form. Products can then be decomposed into separated features. This help understand that, when combined, these features become cultural choices. Pointing out the combination of features naturally point to cultural implications, i.e. are culture specific.
The final point is to determine within a concept what are the assumptions while making design choices. It helps articulate a project within a framework and allows the identification of the 'why' of the final design choices that will later be encoded into material form.

I also presented the Semiotic Square by Greimas and Rastier.

Designers can use semiotic tools for visualizing social ideology embedded in combinations of features.

A selection of references
HOWARD RILEY (2004) Perceptual modes, semiotic codes, social mores: a contribution towards a social semiotics of drawing. Visual Communication, Vol. 3, No. 3, 294-315 .pdf

ALAN RHODES and RODRIGO ZULOAGO (2003) A semiotic analysis of high fashion advertising. 2003. .pdf

OSBORN J.R. (2005) Theory Pictures as Trails: Diagrams and the Navigation of Theoretical Narratives Cognitive Science Online, 3.2, pp. 15-44 .pdf

A guide to evaluate Universal Design performance

I found a guide to evaluate the universal design performance of products.
Evaluating the Universal Design Performance of Products, EUDPP, Molly Story, James Mueller, and M. Montoya-Weiss, 2002 from the Center for Universal Design.

Paper in .pdf format

Their definition of universal design

Universal design is the design of all products and environments to be usable by everyone regardless of age, ability or situation. Achieving usability by people of all ages, abilities, and situations is very difficult, but it is a goal well worth striving for. As universal design performance is increased, so are usability, safety and marketability for all users.

In sum, the 6 principles of universal design are:
1. Equitable Use
2. Flexibility in Use
3. Simple and Intuitive Use
4. Perceptible Information
5. Tolerance for Error
6. Low Physical Effort
7. Size and Space for Approach and Use

The Universal Design Performance Measures are not intended to be used as a “scoring” device, nor as a substitute for real-world testing by individuals with personal experience of aging or disability. Product developers with some knowledge of the issues involved in aging and disability will find this tool helpful in:
• Evaluating product usability throughout its life cycle: packaging, instructions, set-up, use, maintenance, and disposal;
• Developing product testing and focus group methodologies for use with individuals of diverse ages and abilities;
• Promoting the universal design features of products to potential customers;
• Identifying universal design features of products for design competitions and award programs.

Monday, November 27, 2006

io brush and Kimiko

On the canvas, artists can draw with the special "ink" they just picked up from their immediate environment.

My colleague and friend Kimiko Ryokai will join the faculty of the School of Information, Berleley, in January 2007. She will teach in the iSchool and the Center for New Media. She graduated from the Tangible Media Group at MIT Media Lab with Dr. Hiroshi Ishii. She is currently employed at the product design firm, IDEO.

A while back for her PhD, Kimiko designed io brush, a super intuitive platform to paint digitally using colors, patterns, movements that surround us. For her master thesis she invented and researched on Storymat, a pretty mat that stores children's storytelling play by recording their voices and movements of the toys they play with.

IO brush movie that I recommend watching (25 mb). Delight warrantied.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

La déroute

Today it's my birthday. Usually I dig through the French La Redoute catalog to pick something I like. This year I discovered this chef d'oeuvre by the artist Nicolas Simarik: La Déroute. A different point-of-view on "La redoute".
I love it. It's full of life. Reading the pages of the fallacious catalog reminded me of the work of Lucien Alma and Laurent Hart, Borderland (previously called Bordeline) the video game with everyday "heroes". Link.


For more pictures, visit the catalog's diaporama

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The shadows of objects

Playing with light and shadows, artist can give sens to a magma of clothing, metal, clouds and so forth.
Simple elements of design, yet strong impact. Playing with our expectations of what an object can and/or cannot do, artists can impress us. I discovered the work of Fred Eerdekens on the blog of Etienne Mineur.

Life itself is not enough, 1999, Clothing, glass, steel, light projectors, 700 x 120 x 90 cm by Fred Eerdekens

The talking machine

This is what I call sound art. An very simple design that can have such an impact.
I believe we forget what an object can naturally do without computing technology. By simply reproducing the vocal tract and pushing air through it, artists can make a acoustic speech synthesizer such as what Martin Riches achieved with his Talking Machine.

While I was voicing the pipes for a mechanical organ I noticed that when they were playing incorrectly they would sometimes make sounds quite similar to human speech. I wondered if it would be possible to make special speaking pipes and whether it would be possible to make them talk.

The result was the Talking Machine — an acoustic speech synthesizer.The speech sounds are produced using a flow of air and resonators just as in natural speech.The machine has 32 pipes, each one a simplified version of the human vocal tract. They reproduce the spaces which are formed in the mouth, nose and throat when we speak.The pipes are built according to measurements of X-Ray photographs taken of a person speaking. In other words, the E-pipe reproduces the narrow shape of the human mouth saying E, the OO- pipe has something like the small round OO-shaped lips and so on. S, F, Sh and similar sounds are produced by special whistles which reproduce the shapes made by the lips, tongue and teeth. The valves which control the flow of air are operated by a computer.

More info
Audio from the talking machine

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Seamless-sensory Interventions

Based on my previous work on haptics for psychotherapy, I am now designing Seamless Sensory Interventions for the treatment of mental and neurological disorders.

My current research proposes haptics as the key to bringing treatment into the social sphere through devices, and providing new ways to mediate between the patient and the therapist both in and outside of therapy. Self-mutilation is a perfect test-case, because of the definitive “physicality” of the symptoms. However, the broader solutions that I am proposing have implications for diseases as diverse as autism, depression, and schizophrenia.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The theremin by Three as Four

a cool video of an alien on a roof with one of the first electronic instrument, the theremin! (Invented in the 1920's) Worth watching ...

Also they make cool outfit for dogs

Web site: Three as Four.

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Carrie Outfit for Barbie

After having designed a Tomb for my Barbie, I have designed a Carrie Outfit.

Barbie has a Ken, a Corvette, a castle, and all the outfits she ever wanted. However she has nothing for Halloween. I designed this outfit in Papier Mache to fit the Barbie we love.

The following picture shows that the outfit has taken the perfect shape of the Barbie doll.

A Carrie Outfit for Barbie in Papier maché (doll not included)

More pictures on Flickr ...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Fashion garments

Picture of our X-mode project

Creating, discussing, sharing, building with Yaz on fashion garments (statement coming soon). A few sketches of our nurturing ideas ...

More pictures

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Core sample

Material: wax and plaster

I took the perspective of a child trying to understand the meaning of the term Core Sample, an intuitive translation from the French analogy. Core sample then means 'le corps samplé', i.e. dismembered body.
An immediate reference to the dismembered body is a serial killer, the one that would be prompt to body sampling. Starting with an obsession for the neck, to a more tool-istic approach to body members: arms, legs, feet. I made a rock that symbolizes le plan de travail.

I chose to dismember a Barbie doll that I created out of wax. The Barbie being for a while a representation of the woman for a child. I chose the white wax, the wax being a way a woman suffers regularly by trying to reach an ideal. The white is the symbole of purity thus the contrast between the canvas fabric & the plaster sculpted with chisel, and the angelic face of the doll made of white wax.

This sculpture is a tool-kit box for understanding serial killing for children. The tools are also made of wax and represent legs, arms, hands, feet. A tool is normally very hard, here it is very fragile as a mean to represent the complete chimère, i.e. pipe dream, the serial killer is immersed in.

More pictures on Flickr

I made this sculpture for the sculpture class taught by Helen Mirra at Harvard University, VES.

In doll and sculpture

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Fashion and violence


Found on V magazine

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Volume and Light

Three states

This semester I follow a sculpture class taught by Helen Mirra at Harvard University, VES.
I am a big fan of light, from perceptive to illusory, such as in the work of James Turell. For my second assignment I integrated the playful intervention of light within my sculpture. It also integrates the three numbers that define my volume as stated in the assignment.


I calculated my volume to determine the number of boxes and shadows.

I installed light boxes made out of brown paper in a cubic room. I controlled the direction of the light sources to build consistent shadows around the boxes and bring the light in and out of the boxes.
Out of the three boxes, the third box moves to create different cubic light patterns on the walls, e.g. from three to two patterns.

Material: brown paper, wooden sticks, strings.

In volume, light and sculpture