Machine Society Interfaces

Project Summary

Students in the Performance and Technology Class create a series of performances that explore the interface between society and our machines. With the theme of the cloud to guide them, they have created increasingly complex art using digital media, microcontrollers, and motion tracking. Their work will be on display at the Duke Choreolab 2016.

Themes and Categories
Year

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Project Team

  • Martin Brooke ECE
  • Thomas DeFrantz AAAS/DANCE/THEATRST
  • Guillermo Sapiro ECE/COMPSCI/BME 

Group 1

We typically look at clouds from a fixed perspective: from the ground, looking up. Our project aims to give new insight into how we perceive clouds, invoking a sense of whimsical surprise that brings a level of interaction between the perceiver and the system. We use a proximity sensor, light sensor, servo motor, and a variety of LEDs in order to allow people to control the system and discover what it means to see clouds in a whole new light.

Group 2

The concept behind our project was to take the idea of a cloud and create a whimsical environment similar to a baby mobile. We engineered a rotating device that responds to an approaching individual; when a person is within 60 centimeters of the range finder, a servomotor (located at the base) is activated to spin a wooden rod 180 degrees back and forth. Simultaneously, another servomotor is triggered to open a birthday card that produces a playful song to add to the dreamy ambience. At the top of the mobile, there are two rods that intersect within a wooden cube with several cotton clouds and paper hot air balloons hanging off of it. We wanted the swinging of the clouds to recreate the experience of cloud watching: with the clouds drifting over a field. 

Group 4

The interaction of nature and technology has always been a contentious one. With this project we sought to create a combination of the two worlds where the forces of nature—in particular, clouds—are controlled by technological innovation. We have a box of dry ice with a lid that is controlled by motor. As the observer comes closer to the display, the sensor “sees” this approach and begins to raise the lid, releasing the billows and clouds of the dry ice. The closer the person comes, the more the lid opens.

As they leave, the lid lowers. This system also incorporates LED lights to mimic stars in the sky as the observer approaches, creating a more realistic effect.
In keeping our tense balance of nature and technology, we have our fishing line pulley running over a tree branch, as though the scene takes place in a different space—in the canopy of a forest, in the midst of a storm, or in a park on a foggy day.

Group 5

Our project aims to explore the playfulness of chasing clouds in our childhoods. We used an Arduino coupled with an ultrasound rangefinder and continuous servos to create a cloud that runs away from you as you walk closer to it and sneaks up closer behind you as you walk away from it. To create our cloud, we used white helium balloons that were bundled together.

Related People

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Annie Xu (Rice, CEE), Liuren Yin (ECE), and Zoe Zhu (Data Science) spent ten weeks analysing usage data for MorphoSource, a publicly available 3D data repository maintained by Duke University. Working with Python and Tableau, the team developed an interactive dashboard that allows MorphoSource staff to explore usage patterns for site visitors who view 3D files representing objects from primate skulls to historical art pieces.

 

View the team's project poster here

Watch the team's final presentation on Zoom here:

 

Project Leads: Doug Boyer, Julia Winchester

After London was destroyed during the Great Fire of 1666, it was reconstructed into the “emerald gem of Europe,” a utopian epicenter focused on England’s political and economic interests. For whom was the utopia constructed? Who determined its architectural choices? And what did such a utopia look like in seventeenth-century London?


Our research uses Natural Language Processing to analyze semantic trends in digitized text from the online database “Early English Books Online” (EEBO-TCP https://textcreationpartnership.org/tcp-texts/eebo-tcp-early-english-books-online/) to answer such questions. After applying methods such as word-embedding, sentiment analysis, and hapax richness, we provide an overview of themes in the seventeenth century; specifically, we conducted case studies on changes to coal taxes within the period and the reconstruction of St Paul's Cathedral. Our results thus show that, while a utopian society was originally intended to be built for the people, the project’s motivation eventually shifted to a political purpose, as evidenced by the approval of more costly city projects. In response to backlash against the increase of taxes on coal to support large-scale building projects, the ruling class highlighted positive outcomes in printed materials in order to convince working class persons that their collected taxes contributed to a greater good, despite evidence to the contrary. Finally, during key historical events, sentiment and hapax richness are shown to have an inverse relationship, the results of which can demonstrate how London writers engaged with text and genre as forms of protest.

View the team's project poster here

Watch the team's final project presentation on Zoom:

 

Is there a right type and amount of consumption? The idea of ethical consumption has gained prominence in recent discourse, both in terms of what we purchase (from fair trade coffee to carbon off-sets) and how much we consume (from rechargeable batteries to energy efficient homes).