Holla.

BRIEF

 

The metro, within this metropolis, is a symbol of a changing city. It is a new semi-public space that offers opportunities for congregation and social

networks. Over the last three years, counter to the city’s urgent pace, the Art in Transit project has attempted, through transdisciplinary, placebased,

art and design practice, to pause and engage with the metro which offers a new form of inhabitation of public space. It is an inquiry into

how experience, memory, and fantasy invents the city and also allows for it’s re-imagining.

Art in Transit’s inquiry into the specific urban condition of Bangalore took shape when the project moved to the Cubbon Park metro station. A large amount of our student research indicated a public imagination that is trapped between the nostalgia of the garden city or the lake city, and the futuristic thrill of the start-up city or the tech capital. What was lost were modes through which we could engage with the city in the present moment and a platform where plural imaginations of it could be celebrated.

COLLABORATIONS

AIT 200
Adobe 200
Srishti

DESIGN PROPOSAL

01/ INTRODUCTION

Our senses enable us to perceive the world around us. It helps us in commutation, communication and exploration. Each sense has it’s own perks, which helps putting things in perspective and guides us through our journey on this planet. With the advent of technology, we have reached a stage where we can heighten these senses and look beyond the ordinary.

When put together in the right proportions, the cohesive nature of perception and technology can bring about meaningful interactions with the world around us in new and interesting ways. It’s almost like the place in itself has the alchemy of fusing synthetic environments along with natural surroundings.

One such place is Cubbon Park in Bangalore, India. This place binds the park and it’s underground metro station along with their juxtapositions. The idea of walking out of the metro station and be immediately greeted by nature is quite a jarring experience. Ever since Art in Transit came into motion, the idea has been to bring the outside to the inside, and vice versa. These separate environments (although are next to each other) are quite varied in their qualities.

02/ DESIGN BRIEF

The final output of this project is to build an interactive transformative system inside the Cubbon Park metro station which would enable us to bring new, ethereal spaces inside the station itself. It will have to be designed in such a way that it invigorates all our senses to believe that we’re truly in a different environment altogether.

Since the system in itself will be entirely virtual, it can be flexible enough to transport the commuters into new spaces everyday, or even to bring relevant information across to people who are in transit.

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03/ OBJECTIVES

Generally when someone is commuting from one place to another, they want to get to the destination as soon as possible. In such a case, my objective would be to engage the person while they’re in motion. The interactivity of the installation would only come to life when people would be walking on it, which in this case, are the flight of stairs which lead to the platform.

The system should work in such a way that it creates the transformation in an incremental way as the user takes multiple steps to reach the platform. This kind of work would then break the monotony of everyday travel and would offer something new every time the user interacts with the objects around them.

04/ USER EXPERIENCE TESTS

After conducting an imaginative approach towards a user experience research, I’ve come to find that people would prefer therapeutic and calming sounds of nature, such as rain, forests, beaches etc. to overlap the contrasting and monotonous hustle-bustle nature of going to work.

Also, it was found that bringing positive energies and the very unexpectedness of such a project would intrigue the user to pick the stairs over the escalator.

05/ INSIGHTS

  • People would want to try it out for themselves and also recommend it to their peers.
  • The ambient sounds would be an unexpected break, and all the more intriguing when it can be interacted with.
  • Time constraints would determine how long they’d be spending at the installation, which averaged to about 5-10 minutes.
  • When given the choice, every subject responded to trying out the stairs for a new experience over
    the convenience of going with an escalator.

06/ METHODOLOGY

In order to create such a system, it would mean that a minimum of 4 senses must be involved:

01// VISION

For the visual aspect of the system, the panoramic metal frame enveloping the staircase could be used. If it is replaced by LED Panels, then by using a HDMI Splitter we can place video content on top of this device.

02// SONIC

This can be further categorized into two parts:

Interactive Sounds:

Ambient Sounds:

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This would be the sound which is produced by sensorial inputs while walking down the staircase. 

For example: When someone is walking and puts their leg on a step, the sensors installed would immediately detect the motion and would play the sound of a splash/crunching of leaves, etc.

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This would be the sound which is produced by sensorial inputs while walking down the staircase.

For example: When someone is walking and puts their leg on a step, the sensors installed would immediately detect the motion and would play the sound of a splash/crunching of leaves, etc.

03// OSMIC

To add to the sensorial inputs, the sense of smell plays a major role in creating the illusion of a transformative space. In order to achieve this, if there’s one single theme that runs for the entire day, we could have the aroma being emitted in timely intervals (in case of a large footfall) or have it coded to be emitted only when the interactive sonic sensors detect movement.

04// TOUCH

In this context, touch reflects to the movement which would be involved in proceeding down a staircase. It would require the electronic sensors to cover the entire range of the stairs and would need to have a high level of accuracy to detect which step the person is on.

PHASE-I

RESEARCH

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Above: Site Location, Cubbon Park.

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A lot of our initial research was based on going on site, looking at the kind of works that other people have done around the metro station and basically observe the people who take the metro..Where they look, where they wait, what do they do when they’re waiting, etc.

We also looked at places around the metro station i.e. Minsk Square and Chinnaswamy Stadium and were thinking about large scale interventions that could take place in these areas.

Minsk Square

Above: Minsk Square & 
Below: Chinnaswamy Stadium; both located in Bangalore, India.

Chinnaswamy_Stadium_Panorama

It was a lot of free ideation at this point as the possibilities were endless. We were asked to come up with different ideas for intervention to the grab the attention of the onlookers.

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These exercises were conducted over the first few weeks with
multiple visits to Cubbon Park and on-site thinking to
keep feasibility of the projects in check.

EXPLORATIONS

01/ SPECTROGRAMS

At this point, I started reading up about spectrograms and how they were made. After doing a little bit of research, I found myself creating my own spectrograms using Adobe Audition.

It was quite a straightforward process. First, I went to Cubbon Park and recorded a bunch of videos in various settings, such as:

  • Sounds of the Metro coming to the platform.
  • Sounds of people climbing the Escalator.
  • Sounds of people getting on the metro.
  • Other ambient sounds inside the metro station.

02/ LIVE SPECTROGRAMS

After getting spectrograms from the various places, I started thinking about what it would mean to have a live spectrogram. Where the user would come up to the machine and would say something out loud.

(or)

The ambient sounds of the metro space in itself would bring this graph to life. By doing this, someone would be able to see how their sound  would influence the machine. Maybe if there would be a printer attached to a machine and they would get a souvenir of their interaction with the installation.

This seemed like an interesting idea, so I started building upon it.

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01// KINETIC-AUDIO INTERACTIVITY

This transformation could also take place using physical/kinaesthetic interaction rather than an auditory input, so the spectrograms could be manipulated according to the movement of the user.

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02// INTERACTIVITY ↪️ PARTICIPATION

Participation would be done through a story. If I were to place multiple sound emitting objects each representing an event and people interacted with them in different ways, then the story could have multiple endings.

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02// INTERACTIVITY ↪️ REMINISCENCE

Using Reminiscence and Memory was an interesting concept which would’ve led to people having an emotional involvement with the installation by using common sounds like rain, bird sounds in a forest, sounds of the ocean..These kinds of sounds would’ve brought in a cultural, musical and a time-bound experience.

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PHASE-II

HOLOGRAMS

Holograms are illusions of three dimensional objects being projected by light beams from a laser or other coherent light sources.

Since I couldn’t work with lasers, I decided to use a television screen in order to create the illusion of a presence of an esoteric substance in mid air. To achieve this, I knew I had to build a Hologram Pyramid (aka Pepper’s Pyramid).

01/ PEPPERS GHOST PYRAMID

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Peppers Pyramid is a 3 dimensional pyramid with extremely specific angles which allow it to perfectly reflect the content being played from the light source.

If we were to create a template where we can play the same content on all four sides of the screen, then after placing this pyramid in the center of it, we create an illusion of having a dynamic 3D object in a confined space.

02/ POSSIBILITIES

The possibilities of creating experiences using holograms are endless. Creating any sort of dynamic content would mean that the user would be able to interact with this installation without wearing any external gear/downloading any application.

As I’d discussed before, it was vital for me to not break the flow of the users path towards the metro. Multiple visits to the metro station made me realise that the user wouldn’t engage for more than 30 seconds. This turned out to be a great step and a positive direction for the final installation.

The next steps were to combine this new form of visual expression along with all of the sound research I was doing. This way I’d be adding in the second sense: i.e. Vision.

There were multiple ways to approach this. The first task would be to create an audio visualizer and then to place it according to the template for displaying hologram content on a pyramid.

03/ COMBINING HOLOGRAMS WITH SOUND

I created a template of the Pepper’s Ghost Pyramid scaled for an iPad and got it laser cut in Acrylic. After taping this together, I was able to view YouTube content on it to see what the hologram looks like in person.

Afterwards, I was looking at how people created audio visualizers in a hologram space and found a project by HackerHouse, so I downloaded the code and tested it out.

Their project was based on deriving a Sound- Cloud playlist and then have the visualizer coded in such a way that it would receive those signals, use FFT and then allocate each “bar” for a frequency. 

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PHASE-III

BACKTRACK

By this point, I had really diverted from the initial idea of creating an interactive system. It was time to get back to the drawing board to rethink all the work that was done so far.


Something that was always in my mind was to bring the outside to the inside. The history of Cubbon Park Metro Station was that a large part of the park was chopped down and space was made for constructing the Metro Station and Minsk Square. There were protests from the residents of Bangalore regarding the cutting down of these trees.

// SIMILAR CASES

Cubbon Park wasn’t the only affected area. There have been numerous cases where the government had sanctioned the cutting of trees.

A simple google search led to thousands of such cases, where the rising population of Bangalore demands for more urban spaces, but the trees aren’t making the cut.

Once the motion was passed, there were death ceremonies conducted for these trees in Bangalore.It seemed like even though there were protests to put down the axe, and how loud their voices were, they weren’t heard.

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// FINAL INSTALLATION

To bring light to this situation, I decided to base my installation based on this project.

It would be a mic input based interactive hologram which would somehow connect people to the ongoing situation of the felling of Bangalore’s Trees.

WORKFLOW

Application for Festival_Page_2

I'd created this workflow + dimensions sheet to demonstrate the functionality & aesthetics of 'Holla' for Seminar - III.
 

Application for Festival_Page_3

01/ MODELLING IN BLENDER

I took to blender immediately in order to create models of a low poly tree and a low poly building. I was looking at the metamorphosis of converting the building to a tree and having the control over this using the microphone input.

With Blender, I was able to create a smooth transitioning effect between the building and the tree. The faces of the buildings would metamorph to create the tree. This was a 3 second animation but it wasn’t something that I’d have been able to control over in Unity properly.

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But since there were so many vertices, to have them all sync to the mic input in Unity would’ve taken ages. So I decided to look for other alternatives to make this transition.

02/ UNITY

I’ve been using Unity on an on and off basis for a while now. I was only kind of familiar with the work-flow, but it was the best thing I could work with. The physics engine’s rendering capabilities were definitely going to deliver and would save me a lot of time when there was only so much left.

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After creating a working model of the unity project, it was time to take it to the next level.

I found particle emulation effects for rocks and leaves by Keijiro which seemed to be in sync with my concept as well.

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Above: Green; and
Below: Rocks by Keijiro

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03/ PROTOTYPE

Before giving the model for fabrication, I’d decided to build a working prototype based on the dimensions of a 22” Monitor.


For this, I’d used Honeycomb cardboard that I had from a previous project and re purposed it for this installation instead. This cardboard would’ve been strong enough to support the Monitor (about 2.5kgs) but not for a much larger television.


Here are some photos taken while creating this prototype.

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FINAL BUILD

04/ FABRICATION

After finishing the prototype, I had a good idea about how to go about building the final structure.


I’d even received the television by this point and had the exact dimensions ready for fabrication.

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The fabrication process took about 4 days to finish. Here are a few images which showcase the process that was involved in the building of the final installation.

PHASE-IV

HYPE

// POSTERS

After the entire structure was ready, the plan was to have a mini exhibit in the Cubbon Park Metro Station.

So for this event, I created a few posters and also promoted this event on social media platforms like Instagram & Facebook.

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EXHIBIT

The exhibition was set to happen in Cubbon Park Metro Station shortly after 2:00PM, but lots of people came in before that to see what it was all about.

There was a lot of interaction and excitement with the audience and they had given their business cards to be invited for the Srishti Undergraduate EXPO, scheduled in July 2018.

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INTERACTION

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The timings while I’d put up the installation weren’t quite appropriate. But the structure did have quite a few heads turning around, and even a few coming up and asking me what it was about. After explaining the installation, they gave it a shot and there was always this wonder that I’d seen in their eyes.

I knew this project was a successful one when they told me stories about how they connected with the cutting down of trees, and even offered to help raise the awareness amongst their family and friends.

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 ©  Mohit Shukla 2019