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Time: process & results

Images taken by Nicolas Peña-Escarpentier – thanks for awesome photos

What’s time? Is time a logical thing? A project “Time” started from throwing simple questions about time and its standard – eventually evolving into the combination of physical piece and digital visualization about different time zones. The physical piece is consisted of two parts: inner cylinder that represents UTC Time Zone map, and outer sphere that is rotatable and contains light source. As the user rotates the outer sphere, and it creates movement in light. While the light is moving, the inner cylinder that has 24 light sensors for each longitude reacts to the changing brightness.

The physical piece will be installed on transparent and round table that I personally own, which approximately has 40” diameter and 30” height. People should be able to walk around the table and see the cylinder time zone map inside the sphere. The digital visualization will be projected from underneath the table; due to its transparency, the table is able to directly show the visualization on is top surface. In this way, people can view both physical and digital piece without being distracted.

When the light shifts from one time zone to another, the digital visualization reflects the movement as well by changing gallery of skylines. Those skylines are from survey towards ITP community regarding which cities they came from, and organized according to the longitude location.

All the coding parts can be found in my or Huiyi’s GitHub repository.



The skyline photos are are collected in a single folder and organized in each city with same 24 steps. The archive is called via .json file.

24 light sensors send array of numbers. During this process, Huiyi and I had to add black tubes around the sensors to block the ambient light. Usually when the light source is not close enough, the reading is under 10~15. When the light source is in front of the sensor, it gives value between 50~100. Using that, if there’s enough difference between max and min, it will indicate max as 12:00PM.

What happens if the difference between max and min is too small – such as, when the light is off because I put the switch on the light source without thinking everyone’s going to press it? Well, it basically makes the whole sketch goes to “sleep.” This won’t and shouldn’t happen in real life, but since our work is not literally showing the scientific information, we rather found it will be a good visual effect that wraps up the whole idea.


Second User Testing:

In order to give a general idea of how it functions, I brought the partially completed physical piece and the sketch that works with slider input. Although Huiyi and I were in the finishing stage at this point, the user testing was extremely helpful to make some small changes. The most mainstream feedback I got was that it’s hard to recognize the light location inside the sketch.

After the user testing, Huiyi and I realized the need of light indicator and initially built a white line that goes across the sketch and directs to the max input – which is the version I presented in the last ICM class. Then later it became a line along with orange gradient to make the light change more noticeable and dramatic. Furthermore, the text color for max input zone will be turn into yellow as well.



This is the second short video that contains some process and imagery of how it works. There will be more documentation and modification until the show.


Soundtrack to a Lost Film



Table inside the kitchen – Track 9: Black Shoe
TVs and telephone booth – Track 8: Fingerprints
Plant and sofa next to the window – Track 7: Holden Caulfield
Cabinet with camera lens and soccer ball – Track 11: Father’s Watch
Bed and pillow – Track 4: White

Happy Holidays






Materials: Red oak facing wood veneer, and Astroparche aged parchment card stock 65lb paper were used as main. Some black paper (that was approximately card stock thickness as well) and 0.01″ thickness acetate paper were partially used for the placement of photo-resistors and islands of timezones.

Since I’ve been keep using new materials every week, I decided to use something I’m bit more familiar along with something unknown. I first wanted to get decent card stock papers from PaperWorks, but soon I realized it will cost more money and time away from RI. I moved on to find similar material from Amazon. Initially city names were written in moderate etching, but after I found I it’s easier to read the city names when they’re slightly burnt out on the edges (comparing two Alaska with different laser cutting speed settings), I rather started cutting them than etching.

Putting wood veneer underneath paper was more of an accident. After I finished laser cutting, I didn’t have space so I just pile the paper up on the wood veneer and found out their color palettes are well matching. However, wood veneer was hard to cut with knife or make hinge with it because it’s natural wood and has irregular surface. Therefore, I used cardboard as a hinge and cut 1″ lines of wood veneer with scissors. The wood veneer I got is pre-glued, which made me to use the iron in the Soft lab.

Following ThisToThat’s advice, I decided to use Sobo. 3M 77 is in spray type that isn’t convenient for small size application, and although I was interested in Yamato glue I got Sobo due to easier accessibility. After testing on small piece of wood veneer, I start applying it overall.

Least favorite part: placing the timezone pieces with masking tape before gluing.





Process/wth is this:

Many advices I got last week were just purchase hemispheres already if I’m interested in. So, hemispheres were purchased, but the problem was how to make it rotate – one method came in my mind was having ring that can be screwed with the hemisphere edge.

Its diameter is 18″ and the edge part is 3/4″. The screw holes that came with were useless because they didn’t even match each other.

Initially I thought of making all 8 parts in the sketch. I don’t know why and fortunately I realized that I only need three parts: top, bottom, and middle part that contains light source (indicated as yellow in the upper sketch).

All ring parts will have 1″ height excluding hemisphere edge thickness in order to have adequate space to put through axis later. Some things I purchased as well are binding barrels and screws. However, while waiting for them to arrive I tried to think of how to make the middle/light part with standoffs. The standoffs I got from Huiyi had 2/8″, 3/8″, 6/8″, and 7/8″ lengths. Based on those options I had, I decided to use 4 of 3/8 standoffs and 1/16″ acrylic sheets.

…but the design could’ve been constantly modified only because I made prototype with cardboard. By making the prototype, I could check and fix the general scale and positioning.

I haven’t got to the soldering part for the acrylic version, because I was still unsure about (1) how would I attach components (2) the required distance for light to activate photosensors. The prototype was given for testing! Have fun Huiyi.

Another problem I encounter was that I couldn’t half cut and fold acrylic sheet as cardboard for switch and led parts. I kept go through the Intro to Fab week 4 post to get any inspiration. Then, I saw the (weird) mini hinges I got for the previous module project.

I made two holes per a hinge in bigger size than they used to be, with drill. They function the same way as attachment blocks.

The wooden top and bottom parts were made with band saw and Dremel, using the same way and material as my previous module exercise.



Final Project Proposal

My final project will be developed together with Huiyi and it will be about the relationship between sunlight and time. After seeing Huiyi’s midterm project, which overall speaks about the similar concept, I asked her if she’s interested in collaborating – and here’re some common points and differences among our previous projects.

Alice’s Physical Computing midterm: (this is my past project)

Huiyi’s Physical Computing midterm:


First User Testing

For our initial user testing, we used Huiyi’s globe for midterm along with my one of my p5 sketches. The installed object itself was going to be a fixed globe with photoresistors on all the cities where ITP community came from and as people project light source on them (such with their phone flashlight), those corresponding cities’ webcams will show up in projection. However, the results were quite different from our expectation. Here are some feedbacks we got from the user testing:

  • I want to rotate the globe and make it spin!!
  • Seems like it’s more about surveillance & privacy issue
  • It’ll be hard for photoresistors to detect lights?
  • Looks educational and informative
  • Looks like about traveling


New Sketch

We initially planned to project webcams around the world so people can recognize the real time differences, but we decided to rebuild both of the object and the projection parts as users had trouble relating them with time. Although Huiyi and I were eager to use webcam API for our projection, we decided to let it go if many people are easily interpreting them as different subjects.

Instead, the projection part got divided into two parts of (1) Skyline panorama that alters simultaneously as the light rotates and (2) On top of the panorama, having time in number form. The time info in number form will basically emphasize how some cities are not following UTC standard, by having glitchy effects that resemble error message. In order to build this new sketch, Huiyi and I are organizing the list of cities we received from ITP students into timezone format. Here is a testing version:


AfterFx Animation Ideas

As the semester got busier, my commute times recently got more and more delayed as well as the daylight duration got much shorter compared to Sept. It inspired me to make a calm, meditative, and even pacifying video using mundane scenes of everyday life, along with similar kind of music.

This music video of Flickr by Poter Robinson always been one of my favorites, due to its simplicity and its ability to transform the plain scenery into a vivid images. With AfterFx’s tracking functions and camera moving, these effects seemed available to be applied in my video.

Then I’ve start searching for what “base” video to use. After looking at different options, I found the front view window of MTA shots interesting and decided to move on with that idea – focusing on its underground scenes.

For music, I decided to work with Empty Streets by Late Night Alumni since I realize it has a feeling of going through a long tunnel, and its current music video already has a contents of traveling city like Flickr has – but in more toned down way. In conclusion, I thought this might be a good chance to remake this music video and combine it with the MTA front window shots.