Typology Machine Project Proposal

For the Typology Project, I plan on creating a system that collects the amount of saliva produced from a black body while performing black music. For the purpose of this project, black music refers to songs created by black artists, rather than black dominated genres. The song selections will range from the years of ~1840 to 2019. The pieces chosen will be songs (negro spirituals, gospels, popular music, etc.) created to uplift spirits during times of oppression. The intention of the project is to combine black DNA with black history and identity.

The capture system will include gauze, a digital scale, and vials. The gauze will act as an artificial tongue and will absorb the saliva created during each performance. If the gauze gets too damp, it will get switched out mid performance. The gauze will be weighed before and after being used; and, the same amount of saliva will go in a vial to “document” the data produced. Alternatively, a pipette and/or container will be on hand to capture excess saliva. This action may be performed 20 or more times.

Project proposal

I’m blowing big bubbles and capturing them with the polarization camera.

Bubbles do interesting things with light because the thickness of the bubble film is the same size as certain wavelengths of visible light (hence the iridescence of bubbles). While bubbles to necessarily do anything to the polarization of the light, because they interfere with the movement of light through them, I might get interesting effects by shining polarized light through them. I’m hoping that, by shining polarized light at the bubbles, I’ll be able to get interesting images with the polarization camera.

^ that’s what bubbles do to light


^ and this is what that looks like (these are visible colors, not any polarity magic

I’m going to blow big bubbles in the photo studio in Margaret Morrison, lit with polarized light, and then I’m going to photograph the bubbles with the polarization camera. Hopefully variations in shape and size (because big bubbles can be weird lumpy shapes) will provide some differentiation between the different images.

Metrics of a hug

In the 50s and 60s, psychological research was lead by behaviorists and psychoanalysts that supported the idea that we, as humans, became attached to our mothers because they provide us with food. Harry Harlow’s studies with monkeys -now unethical- revealed that our healthy development compromised more than nourishment and personal livelihood. Love was part of this equation. As we grow, we extend the boundaries of our affection to other individuals – sometimes even to non-human objects.

In highly-intertwined technological times, sometimes, this affection is shown as data messages, photos, phone calls, or 1-day-delivery Amazon packages. In this scenario, our caress has to travel through a devious matrix of data filters until it reaches the final recipient. But still today, we have not lost many other physical shows of affection: the hug. Almost universal to all our cultures, hugging is one of the most sophisticated ways of communication. Polite, intimate, or comforting; passionate, light, or quick; one-sided, from the back, or while dancing. Hugs have been widely explored compositionally from the perspective of an external viewer, or from the personal description of the subjects that intervene in its performance.

Statement of purpose
In contrast, I want to study them with a phenomenological attitude and, as James J. Gibson states, from ‘where the action is,’ the outer layer of the physical matter, its surface. For that, I will measure the same surface that intervenes in this affection interchange. Not only is a hug a pressure interaction, but it is also a heat transfer that leaves a hot remnant on the surface once hugged. Using a thermal camera, I will be able to see the radiant heat from the contact surface that shaped the hug. This thermogram will be after projected in real-time onto the ‘anthropomorphic huggable device’ for the study volunteer to view. Parallelly, the temperature information will also be collected to reconstruct 3d models of the hugs using photogrammetry in a virtual archive.

The installation will consist of an ‘anthropomorphic huggable device’ placed on top of a manual turntable that will be dressed with a high thermal effusivity material, like polyester. A higher thermal effusivity allows materials to be thermally activated in a more rapid manner – and therefore, a more thermal load can be stored during a dynamic thermal process. This way, the heat footprint will be more intense and will be perceived in a higher contrast with the rest of the surface, allowing a better thermal capture.

Opposed to the huggable device, a thermal camera (Axis Q19-E), and a small projector will capture the heat and project back the image onto the real surface. Both will be connected to a software framework that will apply a bandpass  luminance filter to the image to isolate the hugged area from the rest of the image.
Simultaneously, I will use an external DSLR camera calibrated with the thermal camera to record a set of images used to rebuild the hug in 3D through photogrammetry. Finally, the thermal images will substitute the 3d models’ real textures. A 3d interface will collect all models as a virtual archive of the typology.

This project is inspired in the work of artists like Linda Alterwitz that explored thermal portrait photography in ‘Signatures of Heat’ (2012-2017). It also aims to be contextually placed around the ‘Body Art’ artwork explored by cuban-american artist Ana Mendieta in ‘Body Tracks’ (1982).

Typology Proposal: Capture by Breaking

For my typology I wanted to capture fragile object just before breaking. Using the slow-motion camera, I wanted to film dishes being dropped and capture the moment when an object hits the floor but before breaking. The concept of my project is to create a machine whose process for documentation results in the destruction of the object captured.

I have made several tests with the iPhone slow-motion camera, but the results have only been extremely blurry photographs. I have been testing with a bouncy ball, making clean up non-existent, and have found that by looking at the spike in the audio, it allows me to look 1 frame beforehand to see the object (if ignore the blur) sitting on the floor. This allows me to catch the moment in which the object is perfectly intact and almost balancing perfect on the floor.

Also, as an additional thought I was thinking to include with each image a decibel reading of the loudest moment with the dish breaks. I thought it might give the piece an interesting feeling to have all the objects intact perfectly ‘balancing’ on the floor with the sound of its destruction next to it. But at the same time, I feel that it would ruin the schrodinger’s cat idea where the view is in anticipation and in an unknown state is the object is indeed destroyed of if it survived the impact.

Some inspiration:

Billy Violla (slow-motion video artist): https://vimeo.com/64302190

Robert Morris: https://www.wikiart.org/en/robert-morris/box-with-the-sound-of-its-own-making-1961

The Slow-Mo Guys: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVOb3RzS5t4


Typology Machine Proposal: Digital Hygiene and Microverses

For my typology, I’ll be using the Bebird Otoscope Camera to inspect and document the connection ports on people’s devices. Normally used to inspect people’s ears and clean accumulated wax, I’ll be using the camera to inspect the buildup of lint and other detritus in ports on people’s phones, laptops and other connections.

By employing photogrammetery I hope to create an interactive model that can be scaled up and navigated by the viewer and show the unusual landscapes that live with us.


Currently my work flow will be taking video recordings with the otoscope, then converting the footage into photo jpegs to then create the photogrammetry model out of.

Given the scale of the capture site, I’m trying to devise best practices to record and inspect with the most uniformity, and the best focus.

Typology Machine Project Proposal

A Collection of Liquids Going from Cold to Hot, then (if possible) Hot to Cold.

Sink Test

Shower Test

For my typology project, I am going to capture the the thermal changes of liquids going from hot to cold, and then (if possible) cold to hot. I am interested in capturing not just the liquids, but the surrounding environments that change in response to liquids, too. I feel like I often make art projects that have a specific (political) am in mind from the outset. For this project, I will try a different approach and use the time to try and document a phenomenon I found interesting when playing around and experimenting with this heat camera. The FLIR E30bx Thermal Camera  will be the capture device. All of this capture is clear  and ‘invisible’ without this type of capture. I will let this inquiry drive my projet instead of a more preconceived idea.

Questions I have:

  • Is this remotely interesting?/why do this?
  • How can I narrow or expand the scope of my inquiry?
  • A few technical/aesthetic questions:
    • in my examples above I am using timelapse, how are you responding to that? Is something being missed by the slow change of the sides? I have the original version on my comp and will also show for comparison during our discussion.
    • What about seeing the heat information on the image?
    • The capture is only at 160×120 pixels. I am capturing it by recording the live stream off of my computer; is the above magery to grainy? Should I keep them smaller?
  • How am I going to display my typology project?

Places/things I will film:

  • a variety of sinks
  • a variety of showers
  • ice melting
  • water boiling
  • rivers/streams at sunset/sunrise
  • coffee dispensing from a large shop size dispenser.
  • hosses
  • public and private locations of the above.
  • park faucet
  • eyewash station
  • water fountain
  • What about more gaseous liquid situations, like steam? Or car exhaust? Does this ‘count’?
    • ok and some of these ideas towards the end here are just water dispensers and the change in temperature might be very minute (if at all/visible) should I include these? re: possibly narrowing or expanding my scope from question above.


Some related things I found inspiring/interesting/surprising:

Typology Machine Proposal

I propose, as an homage to Gordon Matta-Clark’s Fake Estates project, a survey of land plots in Pittsburgh that are under 20 feet. These plots are fascinating as they push and question the boundary between architecture and object scales, and begin to explore societal requirements that result in such spaces.


I have already begun researching this topic, and have found a series of these plots.

Typology Proposal: How to Build a Spaceship

For my typology project, I plan to use Legos to explore people’s ideas of space travel. In short, I’m going to present different people with the same set of Lego pieces and ask them to build a spaceship. I am interested in both what they think (the ultimate structure they create) and how they think (their process of construction). I was inspired by the typologies we were shown in class where people were asked to create things, like Kim Dingle’s “The United Shapes of America.”

Why a spaceship?

I had a few criteria in mind when deciding what my prompt would be. I want it to be vague enough that people could use their own creativity, which is one of the joys of Lego. Showing a picture and telling them to “make this” would not only be less fun for them, but would probably yield less interesting and varied results. On the other hand, I don’t want to overdo the vagueness and make the participants feel pressured to generate artistically meaningful ideas themselves (ie. “build what love means to you” or “build whatever you want”). I think those results would also not be very interesting. Finally, I want the prompt to investigate a question I find meaningful. This one’s certainly subjective, but I kept it in mind anyway. I have to like this project after all.

I landed on “spaceship” because it’s a wonderfully overloaded term. Am I talking about a NASA rocket, a flying saucer, or a sci-fi warship? For any given person, chances are they already have a mental image of a “spaceship,” and it’s different from someone else’s. Space travel has been explored in the news and media in many different ways, and I want to see which of these emerge in people’s designs. How many will add some kind of weaponry? Will they be grounded in science? Will they resemble particular spaceships from franchises? I think this has the potential to be interesting.

Also, spaceships feel very “on brand” for Legos, which I always associated with STEM and sci-fi. It feels like an appropriate use of the medium. I also considered “robot” for the prompt, because it’s also sci-fi and has been widely explored in the media. But I thought it was a little too vague: people know robots can be anything from boxes on wheels to giant arms to realistic humanoids, so I expect many would either require further clarification or default to a sort of “boxy humanoid” that I don’t find very interesting.

What’s the procedure?

I will set up a building area on a table in an area with consistent lighting. The table will be covered in black (or possibly something space-patterned if I can find that) and have a pile of Legos. This set will include a lot of curvy, slanty, and smooth pieces, which are important to spaceships. There will be a camera on a tripod pointed at the building area, about 45 degrees downward and to the right side of the builder. When the participant arrives, I’ll ask them to build a spaceship in the building area (having already explained that I’d be recording them building with Legos). Then I’ll record video of them while they build. Once they finish, I’ll get a quick statement from them about what their process and what they were going for. Finally, I’ll transfer their spaceship to some sort of rotating tray, if I can, and record a video of it spinning around. Then I will disassemble it and start again with someone new.

What’s the display method?

So I’m not totally decided on this yet; we’ll see what kind of results I get. I’m hoping that the process of watching people build is interesting: maybe some people will sort out the Legos, some will go right into it and then have to backtrack, some will build larger sub-pieces and put those together, etc. If this is the case, then I think I’ll display these videos in a grid, sped up something like 10x, so you can watch the different building processes at the same time. Once each person finishes, we’ll stop on an image on their completed spaceship, so at the end you can see them all in a grid (before it loops back to the start). If this looks so busy that it’s disorienting, or if the building process turns out not to be interesting, I can just make a grid of the spinning spaceship videos.

One thing that would be very fun is to keep all of the Lego spaceships, and then display them together like a typology of sculptures. I think that would be the most interesting to look at, but it presents some challenges: I want everyone to have the same set of Legos. In other words, if the first participant uses up a lot of curvy pieces, I don’t want that to limit the next participant’s design. So if I’m not disassembling the ships, I’ll have to somehow replace the pieces that were just used between each trial? That seems logistically tricky, not to mention expensive (I’m shopping for the Legos now and already surprised how expensive some of the fancy stuff is). One potential option, then, is to do this virtually. Take lots of pictures of the spaceships, do photogrammetry on them, and put them in a digital outer space. I generally don’t love photogrammetry as a display method, but it may be appropriate here. Then again, this virtual version still looses the magical thingy-ness of actual Lego bricks.

I will continue to think about methods of display, and would love to discuss it with someone. One of the reasons I’m capturing video is because I’m still undecided on the display–a spinning video can become a set of images for photogrammetry, or series of progress images, or any number of things I may need.

Typology Machine project proposal

How do you hold your pen?

In this project, I want to capture the different ways people hold their pens, and present them as a series of digital sculptures.

Writing is fun! Especially when a physical pen is involved. A pen with a nice, weighty, smooth feel is a magical object. It channels the fire from our brain and our heart, through our hand, onto a piece of paper (or equivalent).

We all hold our pens quite differently.  There are some patterns though. For example, the American Journal of Occupational Therapy found these four most popular grips. (I am a Lateral Tripod by the way.)


Design Agency Scriberia illustrated a few more.

Scriberia Weird Pen Grips Drawing CreativityScriberia Weird Pen Grips Drawing Creativity

This is how Taylor Swift holds her pen, in this Diet Coke ad at least.


A photogrammetry process — 1) people come to a station and model for a few minutes holding a pen as I take photos of them, 2) photos get turned into 3d models digitally.

Media object:

An example

Typology Proposal: The Shape of Love

For my project, I want to record people’s mouths saying something to a person they love and make sculptures out of the change in shape of their lips. I will do this by tracing the lips of every frame of a video (or burst of photos), which will vary widely depending on what people say, the shape of the lips, and what language they speak, and then stacking those shapes on top of each other somehow to create a three-dimensional shape.

(I skipped some frames when sketching.)

(I would not use a material as thin as paper for the final sculpture.)

However, I am still unsure of the degree of automation that I want the machine to work at. I think the following two ideas are equally interesting but incredibly different and could create entirely different meanings behind the final typology.

Very Automatic. I record someone’s lips with the slow motion camera. I write a script in Processing that, when fed the recording, will break the video down into its frames, extract the shape of the lips in each frame with FaceOSC, and export the relative XY coordinates of each frame’s “lip shape” (landmarks) to a text file. I write a Blender script that, when fed the text file of 2D lip shapes, will sequentially layer the shapes along the Z axis, stitch the shapes together, and export an FBX file of the new 3D shape. At this point, I can either send the FBX to a 3D printer and end up with a small, smooth plastic sculpture; or, I continue to slice the model, cut the slices on the laser cutter, and end up with a sculpture like the photo below. Once I finish the scripts, I could easily make as many sculptures as I wanted (as time permits), at any size ranging from finger to forearm-size (relatively small).

Not Automatic. I stay as far away from technology as possible. I use a film camera void of a computer to take a burst of photos of lips speaking.

I develop the negatives in the darkroom and create large-ish prints on the enlarger (11 x 17 maybe?). I trace the shape of the lips in each photo with wire. I construct some sort of 3D body out of the layers of wire lips with more wire, metal, or some malleable but formidable “skeleton” material (chicken wire-esque). I cover it in paper mache.

(Not sure if this is Photoshopped or actual paper mache but this is essentially what I would do.)

Finally I paint it and glaze it. These could get really big, probably a couple feet tall, depending on how much the person says in the video. This technique is way more physically laborious than the first, so I don’t know if I could make more than three or four before the deadline.

I have a few other ideas of differing degrees of automation, but these are the two that I am super excited by. So much so that I really want to do both of them and need help deciding which (if either) works best for this project/this class.

Alternatively, while this would be a shit ton of work, my typology could instead be the differing degrees of automation on one set of lips (mine, saying my own sentence about someone I love). This typology would consist of similar 3D sculptures with the same set of lip shape data, but made with different sculpture materials; while the aforementioned typology would be sculptures of the same material, but of different lips, languages, and loves.

Please help me decide!