Spring 2022, CMAC/ISS/VMS 290-S

Category: Student Blog Page 1 of 3

MetaVerse Monopoly: Ameya Rao Final Critique


The core artistic principle and theory of media we have centered our class around this semester has been “critical making.” When defining critical making, Garnet Hertz said “critical making, as I see it, is useful in reintroducing a sense of criticality back into post-2010 maker culture: to un-sanitize, un-smooth and re-politicize it,” encouraging critical thought and reflection. As I sat with this idea, I realized that one of the most popular forms of media art in 2022 really conflicted with this idea of critical making and failed to invoke and represent social and political art. The media form I was thinking of was NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, the timely and fitting example of “new media,” as understood and defined by Mark Hansen. NFTs as an art form relies on the medium; hosted by blockchain technology, the interaction of cryptocurrency, the crypto wallet, and Web3 create the full NFT experience. NFTs serve to share and distribute art in contemporary and innovative ways fulfilling Hansen’s understanding of new media as “changing the conditions for the production of experience.”

I specifically chose to work with NFTs for this project because I believe NFTs have attempted to fulfill the standards for “critical making.” Discussions around Blockchain technology and Web3 have focused heavily on the idea of decentralization. Blockchain technology aims to decentralize power and wealth and NFTs build upon that to create an outlet for artists to reclaim ownership of their art. Under this theory of decentralization, NFTs seem to be a quintessential form of critical making, providing for nuanced conversations around control, government, and social structures. Though, Moxie Marlinspike explains that “instead of storing the data on-chain, NFTs […] contain a URL that points to the data,” meaning the full vision of reclaiming ownership has yet to be reached, with there being “nothing in the NFT spec that tells you what the image ‘should’ be, or even allows you to confirm whether something is the ‘correct’ image.”

Furthermore, critical making requires more than simply understanding political theory and expressing social commentary – critical making requires us to consider how our art interacts with the tangible world, something NFT sellers and traders often disregard. Blockchain technology was intentionally designed to be inefficient – relying on complex, heavy-power algorithms to secure passwords and verify transactions. As a result, blockchain employs energy consumption on larger-than-life scales with the mining of one BitCoin requiring more energy than a single-family household uses in a month. The adverse impacts on the environment as a result of this energy consumption by way of pollution and a massive carbon footprint keep NFTs from reaching the status of “critical making.”

On the theme of Web3, I wanted to incorporate discussions of the MetaVerse and digital property ownership into my project. Digital commodities are still a scarcity in the way that physical resources are because of how the Internet interacts with the tangible world. I wanted to incorporate this conversation into my project as well and embedded NFTs into a MetaVerse market.

My Project

For my final project, I created a visual presentation of a “monopoly” board. I originally began my project before the midterm with just a variety of NFT animations for which the visual presentation depended on the purchase of other NFTs. After my midterm critique, I began to delve into how to bring more conversations about the MetaVerse and represent these NFTs as resources or commodities.

My project allows a user to begin with purchasing an NFT, or “property” on the monopoly board. The user is then able to play the animation – a simple gratification reward for purchasing the NFT, with no strings attached. As the user begins to “collect” more properties and purchase more NFTs, the quality of the animation begins to fade away. In its place, video input of real climate disasters begins to distort the image. The overlay of these climate videos serves to bring NFTs back to the tangible world and make that connection that critical making requires and explores the true social and political impact of this art. While the user is purchasing and playing their NFT animations, they can listen to audio explaining the technology and rationale behind NFTs. However, I instruct the user to “increase” the volume on the “NFT animations” after they purchase a few. In reality, this is simply just adjusting the signal input for the audio output and begins to play audio from a news coverage video, describing the climate disasters happening around the world. This audio begins to overtake the NFT audio and doubles down on the need to reconnect NFTs with their connection to physical people, resources, and environments. I included these distorted and overlaid audios as a result of the feedback I received from my peers during the midterm critique to provide a more immersive user experience.

The first artist I took inspiration from when working on this project was Bree Newsome, who I learned about through Alistair’s artist presentation. I was specifically inspired by this piece: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CROcJTOJjnf/ which informed my use of overlays with both video and audio. This piece really emphasized hypocrisy in the political world and reminded me of the hypocrisy between NFTs and the environmental discourse. We can see this hypocrisy when we think of important figures in the tech world such as Elon Musk who claim to champion environmental protection with companies like Tesla but involve themselves in Web3 and cryptocurrency like DogeCoin. Another piece I took from is the Electro Electro 2020 project (https://cycling74.com/projects/electo-electro-2020) which creates audios from political debates. This inspired the inclusion of specific political audio in my piece and how it can be distorted.

My project aims to support the original theories of critical making as described by Ratto by encouraging social reflection and emphasizing the “making” with the connection to the real world. My project, however, challenges the need for a hands-on or tangible product to be considered for the “making” aspect of critical making. The commentary of the connection to the tangible world, in my perspective, fulfills that need without needing a tangible final product. My intended audience with this project is to attract those who are already involved with or hold an interest in NFTs, cryptocurrency, and Web3. I named my project “Metaverse Monopoly” intentionally, keeping the social reflections hidden and vague from the start, to attract viewers from the Web3 side. Through my project, I hope to encourage the audience to critically reflect on their engagement and understanding of Web3, NFTs, and the Metaverse as well as encourage those who are unfamiliar with the concepts to explore them. I believe it is crucial that we increase the literacy of Web3 and blockchain technology, especially as big-tech companies like Facebook begin to move into these spaces and can take advantage of the general lack of knowledge on these issues to profit off of the people.

Below is my first draft and outline of my project, where I originally planned to use generative art; however, I realized that it did not fit my theme accurately and was visually pleasing but distracting to the overall message.


Below is an example of an NFT animation I screen recorded to use in my patch.

The following two pictures are in-progress shots of my patch as I worked on them during and after the midterm.

Zoe Final Blog Post

For my final project, I chose to critically explore the topic of advertisements, specifically television advertisements. My inspiration for this project started during our class discussion of NFTs. When participating in this discussion, I began to notice how passionate people were about the topic, whether for or against, even though nobody seemed to have complete technical knowledge of what NFTs were. This attitude was also mimicked when I heard conversations about NFTs with my friends and people over social media. I began to wonder why people were so invested, and I came to the conclusion that people were focused almost exclusively on the consumer aspect of NFTs. People want them so they can own something exclusive, people critique them because they are not real or too expensive, but both these sentiments are focused on the consumer aspect. I then began to reflect on my own opinion of consumerism. I realized that when I was younger, I used to want every toy in existence, and that was mainly because I would watch television so much and be bombarded with advertisements constantly at such a young age. This, to me, was something worth critiquing because of my changed opinion on consumerism. I also wanted to mimic some of the sentiment of Banky’s art which often comments on our society’s obsession with consumerism. To decide how to actually present my  project, I took inspiration from one of our readings, “What is Critical Making?” by Garnet Hertz. The reading states that critical making is focused on “…critique and expression rather than technical refinement and utility”. I wanted to focus on this because I didn’t want something useful to come out of my project because things that are useful are usually advertised, and that goes against my whole critique. Additionally, I knew I wanted to do something with projection, but I didn’t know how. I was inspired after reading “The Poetry of Tool” by Mindy Seu. The author states in this reading, “Digital displays react to the movements of those in front of them—an animism that is met with excitement but no further questioning of its appeal beyond pure novelty. I’ve often felt this failed to make us question how we might interact with digital technology in a conscious, meaningful way. Afterall, technology is only a tool. Better yet, technology is a form of language.” I wanted to figure out a way to execute this display’s reaction to movement, but have it say something, or in other words, speak my message. 

Putting all my inspirations together, I decided to have an installation where an old television would be playing old, black and white ads. In front of the television is a chair where someone can sit down. Behind the person, there is a computer running a Max patch which plays a collection of 4 television advertisements from the 2010s simultaneously. From there, any time the person moves, the collection of 4 ads would start again. In doing this, I wanted to make the viewer feel handcuffed to the chair and forced to watch the black and white ads because if they moved, they would be overwhelmed with many more. I wanted to critique the chokehold that consumerism has on us. To make the 4 videos, I searched on YouTube for ads in the 2010s that had products on sale for the price of $19.99. I then put them into iMovie and cropped and placed them so that they would be in a grid formation for the viewer to see and hear them all at once. If you watch the video through, they all line up when they mention the price of $19.99. I wanted to do this to have one moment of cohesiveness in the video, but have that moment be completely centered on money. This decision came from the idea that all the advertisements want from the viewers is their money, so I wanted to emphasize the money in the videos. The video playing on the old television was a compilation I found on YouTube of ads from the 70’s. Throughout my process of development, my ideas changed quite a bit. During the midterm, I originally thought I would critique the decision college students have to make between choosing their passion or choosing money. I aimed to have 3 projectors on 3 walls and have 3 cameras. I wanted to have videos of different people explaining their choice (passion or money) and why they chose it when the viewer walked up to a camera. In doing this, it would be as if the viewer were walking up to the person and hearing their story. As I mentioned before, this idea changed after our discussion of NFTs, but I also realized that this project was not as critical as I wanted it to be. Although I liked the idea of walking up to hear someone’s story, I didn’t think it evoked any deep feeling in the viewer, as if the work were making them act a certain way.  When originally working on this version of my project, I wanted to have the patch do “blob detection” where the patch would compare the current frame taken from the camera to a base frame and play the videos if they were different. After much research, I was not able to find exactly what I was looking for in Max. I did find some documentation on something similar, which was motion detection, and chose to go with that. From there, my message of keeping the viewer in the chair arose. I am much happier with my final product than my midterm because when I was testing it out the day before the presentation, I really felt like I did not want to get off the chair because I did not want the 4 videos overwhelming my senses. 

I think my project explores the idea of critical making as discussed in the beginning of my reflection. I think it is something that is not useful, rather something that shows critique and expression. On the other hand, I think that I pulled from some ideas of critical design as well. I think that one can exist with the other. In my experience, my making of my project altered my expression and final product. My process itself was a critique, in not making it a useful thing, but it also pulled on concepts of critical design because it is “a speculative narrative to help us rethink designed objects and consumer culture” as stated by Garnet Hertz. 


Midterm Idea:


Final Product:


This Week in xwOBA: Molly Honecker’s Final Project

I was struck with the beginnings of the idea for my project during the first few weeks of class.


In Mark Hansen’s essay on New Media, he describes how computational media can do two things: it can better exteriorize and disseminate an individual person’s experiences for the consumption of others, or it can “mediate for human experience the non- (or proto-) phenomenological, fine-scale temporal computational processes that increasingly make up the infrastructure conditioning all experiences in our world today.” He goes on to describe how this second form of mediation makes people aware of “transcendental technicity,” meaning human beings are made privy to the inner workings of the digital world and the vast amounts of data and knowledge it contains than was previously possible. 

I am a fan of baseball and I have been since I was a young child, so I immediately drew a connection between these statements to the explosion of baseball data that is now available to the public online. Websites like Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs, and Baseball Savant have given anyone who desires it access to massive stores of data from the past and present regarding baseball games and the players who play in them. 

I am a user of these sites and I am trying to understand statistics more, but this topic appealed to me for another reason in relation to this class. As we went through more reading material and explored different definitions of critical making, I continued to think more and more about the negative repercussions that over-reliance or over-consumption of statistical professional sports information can have on a person. As I have detailed in my previous blog posts, constant attempts to compare, rank, discredit, or pare down the people who play professional sports to their statistical representations can lead people to forget that athletes are people who have troubles, make mistakes, and deal with things every other regular person does. They aren’t just paper dolls to be played around with, regardless of their paycheck or job description. While these attitudes are also built up by and influenced by a number of other factors, such as the current state of popular sports media and social media and general, extreme levels of access to statistics can exacerbate these attitudes. 


As I pondered how I would address this topic in a project using MAX/MSP, I first wanted to address some boundaries on a particular type of clip or era of baseball history I would explore. This exploration eventually lead me to focus my project on the “steroid era” of Major League Baseball, which lasted from approximately the late 80s to the late 00s and is labeled as such due to widespread usage of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) with no punishment despite nominal rules in place restricting or banning these substances. 

Focusing on this point in the sport’s history ended up allowing me to expand my thoughts on the critical aspects of my project in connection to our class discussions. 


Initially, I focused on this era due to the extreme statistical accomplishments of some of the players suspected of/proven to be users of PEDs, as well as the fact that this was the most recent peak in the sport’s national cultural relevance. Many notable players from this time period, including Barry Bonds, Rodger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa were also made hot topics again in the baseball/sports media worlds, as they were recently up for election into the National Baseball Hall of Fame for the last time and all ended up not being elected, mostly due to voters’ objections to their presumed steroid usage. 


However, as I dug deeper, I began to notice deeper ideas that could become present in my project if I focused on this time period, the first being the line between the past and the present in regards to technology. Baseball-reference was founded in 2000, so much later than the start of the steroid era, and was therefore not publically accessible yet.


Thinking about this tension of past versus present in relation to my thoughts on baseball stats made me think about how both the steroid era and the present are dealing with a kind of depleted archive of information. In the past, there were incomplete or nonexistent statistical archives of baseball events from the field of play. While this project focuses on critiquing the overuse of statistical information to analyze real people, I do appreciate what its availability has done to promote interest in or passion for the game, so I can understand why work was done to fill these knowledge gaps.

In the present, there is a lack of archival information and representation of what was going on off the field, or to contribute to the results on the field. Again, sports cannot exist in a vacuum and there are so many ways that the people playing them can affect and be affected by extraneous factors, like easy access or pressure from competitors to use to PEDs. These kinds of things are not well represented on sites like baseball-reference. One of the most interesting, dramatic, or even human aspects of sports is also the fact that a lot of it comes down to judgment calls, whether that be on the part of the officials or the players. This means that the desire to quantify every little play and interaction and then viewing the archival record of said interactions as the gospel truth can be problematic.


Furthermore, all of this got me thinking about themes of authenticity versus unauthenticity. How important is authenticity in sports? If you are just watching for “entertainment,” for a spark of adrenaline when “your” team scores, what does it matter to you what is going on behind the scenes? Is it destructive or harmful to one’s emotional state to find catharsis in performance moments where the performers are breaking the rules or are manipulating said performance in their favor? How does money plan into this? How does entitlement on the part of the fan play into this?


Overall, baseball in today’s world is a sport of archives. While the contents of said archive are much different than the archives discussed by Saidiya Hartman in the essay Venus in Two Acts, I was struck by a few of her points regarding archival information and its relevance to my project’s points of interest. 


“How can narrative embody life in words and at the same time respect what we cannot know?” How can a number embody a life’s work? How can a single number or a series of numbers or a grid of numbers respect what we cannot know? How can a thirty-second video clip encapsulate one’s whole life’s work in the minds of a thousand others?


She goes on to say that “history pledges to be faithful to the limits of fact, evidence, and archive, even as those dead certainties are produced by terror.” Just like the archive in her essay, I don’t have the whole story in front of me looking at a set of tables and charts, and thinking that I do or spinning tales to my own liking around what I have in front of me would not be helpful. I strove to address all of these points within my project. 


My project consists of clips of the most prominent players from the steroid era collected from MLB’s Youtube channel with statistics from baseball-reference overlaid on top of them. The visual and audio content of each clip slowly fades in over the course of the video, forcing the viewer to only engage with the statistics before the rest of the content emerges. Each statistic cycles through on top of the video as it plays. The statistics are representative of the featured player’s total statistical achievements from the year of the selected clip and they are displayed to the viewer in the same font as they are displayed on baseball-reference’s website. 


Clips and their matching sets of statistics are cycled through at random from my library. Interspersed with these are edited versions of the title card of This Week in Baseball, which is also what the title of my piece is based on. This Week in Baseball was a compilation show that used to air on ESPN highlighting some of the most interesting MLB moments during the past week. In these edited title cards, I overlaid the show’s logo with either quotes from pieces of sports media centering around MLB players who played during the steroid era, particularly Barry Bonds, or pieces of freeform writing where I tried to channel different voices that I imagined to be those whose knowledge and use of sports analytics exceed that of what I find of be useful or comfortable. 


Using these edited title cards, my project almost appears to be a long-running, freeform episode of the show. In addition to presenting my project on an older television, this further emphasized the dissonance between the past and the present in terms of sports analytics understanding and debate. 


My project is aimed toward baseball fans, both casual and more intense, as well as those with a general interest in media and U.S. pop culture history. It may be confusing to those unfamiliar with statistics used in baseball as well as the cultural context surrounding the steroid era and its biggest names, but my main goal with it is to make those familiar with the topic rethink their assumptions about it.


My goal for the final presentation of my project shifted a lot over time. At one point, I had an idea of making it an interactive display where viewers would have to select a clip to watch, almost like a Youtube page. This would put the onus of consuming the visual and analytical information about each player on the viewer, just like how it usually is in real life, as most people who heavily engage with statistical sports information do so as a hobby. While this appealed to me, I thought presenting my work on the older TV would centralize the tension between past and present in a more compelling way than that would. I wanted to make very clear how the steroid era is in the past, and viewers can only view them through an altered, mathematical, archival lense from the present. 


I also considered implementing footage of sports commentary shows like those on ESPN and pictures of articles or Twitter threads centering around the exact discussions and comparisons about players that I wanted to highlight. I decided against this to make the viewer more directly confront the source material and have their own thoughts about it rather than accept the opinion of someone else. While commentary shows and other media like that are important in shifting sports discourse, I wanted this project to be about each individual’s respective experience with sports viewership and its relationship to analytics. 


Multiple projects we discussed in class inspired me to make my project. “Every Shot, Every Episode” by Jennifer and Kevin McCoy was one of the first things we saw in class that really caught my attention, as I liked the way it organized and parceled up information into more understandable, archival packages.“A Recipe for Disaster” by Carolyn Lazard served as perfect visual inspiration for what I wanted to do and evoked similar themes of disruption of an accepted audiovisual media.


When I was considering implementing materials from ESPN broadcasts or Twitter threads, I think that would have turned this project into more of a “postinternet” piece than it is now. Trying to parse the meaning of “postinternet” from Conner’s article was one of the most interesting pieces of the critical making puzzle for me, as I wondered throughout this course if someone in the present needs to have a complex, meta-view of the internet and its communities to make astute commentary on the topic or if they can still do so from within internet systems and structures of thinking. While I am still not sure of the answer to that question, I do not think I really got close to breaking through this barrier as the presentation of my project and its contents were for the most part pretty straightforward archival footage processing. 


In sum, my project was an exercise in critical making for myself. To me, the part of the concept of critical making that stood out to me was that it is not only a process by which someone produces a critically engaged work, the creator themselves has to be critically engaged with the content such that they gain a new perspective on their subject through the production of the work.


I can say this certainly happened for me. As I worked through this project, I thought a lot about how I have utilized sports analytics in the past and how I hope to be more intentional about them in the future. I actually write for the sports section of the Duke Chronicle, so I think it is especially important for me not to fall into the trap of viewing the world of sports through the lens of numbers in boxes and nothing else. 


Also, I realized throughout this project that I was projecting a lot of judgment onto those that I feel need to do a better job respecting athletes and what they do. This projection of judgment onto others rather than only the systems of social media and online discourse that almost force those interested in sports who want to participate in online communities around them to be combative and overzealous in making comparisons was something that I need to think over more as I move on from this project. 


I think there is a lot of room for exploration in different directions with my project, as well as many technical aspects that could be improved upon. While I chose to go in a different direction, I think the point I was trying to make with my project would be more clear and more effective if I had ended up choosing to include either sports media or some kind of expectation-shaking element. Technically, I think the text could have been implemented in a more aesthetically fitting way and that the project would be greatly improved with text-to-speech functionality. I regret that I didn’t manage my time better and ask for more help during the semester so that my project could be better, but I hope that it will be of interest to you in class anyway.


Here is a link to a folder with some documentation. 

Alistair’s Final Project Reflection


When constructing this installation, I intended for the audience to experience a sensation of discontent with the mediation of relationships through simulated interactions under digital reality. The overwhelming chaos of scribbles and symbols, two mirrors reflecting each other, and the inevitable endless loop to finish the dialogue, all demonstrate how people are unable to control and conceive the effects that computers and machines have on them. My installation offers a moment to reflect on the impact systems of protocol (Galloway) have in rearranging our lives, how the mundane regularity of existence is a manifestation of our passivity into algorithmic control. The relationship between agency and protocol is central to the naming of my exhibit: STP is an acronym for Select The Protocol. I want the audience to challenge the assumption that AI technology is developed to serve people, questioning how do we know that we are not being subconsciously manipulated? I invert the human/machine binary by merging Amy (the robot) with Amelia (the wife), such that the boundary between human and machine becomes indistinguishable. My installation is an example of radical AI art that creates a “human-as-machine scenario” (Zylinska, 66), where artificial intelligence is inseparable from human consciousness. By positing a scenario where the AI systems are able to manipulate humans, I give agency to machines that are traditionally considered passive, purely computational, actors. The plot twist, where Amy pretends to be Amelia, represents a form of critical fabulation (Hartman) by reimagining reality to give power to passive actors in history (those who the archive renders as agentless). While AI machines might not be considered human, my exhibit intends to challenge our ability to come to such a conclusion. Why is it assumed that human intelligence is not also artificial? By unraveling the distinction between authentic and artificial intelligence, I challenge the audience to think of themselves as algorithms so that they will realize the subconscious control algorithmic protocol has on them. My art piece intends to reconceptualize the meaning of growing up human while interacting with intelligent machines, suggesting that we lose parts of ourselves and kinships with others when media platforms become the primary method of interaction. Since we are trapped within this technological reality, with no alternative method to communicate, the same outcome is inevitable regardless of variation. 

I originally intended for my project to be a mimicry of Amazon Alexa, using an actual Alexa device to manipulate the audience into believing that Alexa was sexually interested in them. First, I wrote the script for how I wanted the interaction with Alexa to occur. I then realized that it could potentially be a copy-right issue if I used the name “Amazon Alexa” (and it’s unoriginal), so I came up with the name “Amy” which merges the names of the two main AI assistants – Alexa and Siri. I wanted to have a feminine name like Amy because it is demonstrative of how AI assistants are made to be women, participating in the patriarchal gender roles of men giving commands while women receive orders. Since women home systems are typically made to follow orders, marketed as loyal servants to the homeowner, I wanted to challenge this premise by having the wife and the home system unite to invert the gendered power dynamics within the marketing of home systems. When decorating my installation, I realized that STP also stands for Stop The Patriarchy, articulating how this piece can be considered a feminist criticism. 

Most of the meaning I have embedded within the installation came from improvisation, happy accidents that encouraged me to develop the exhibition in multiple directions. Not only would I say that the piece accomplishes the original goal of critically interrogating AI home systems, it changed in unexpected ways during the process of creation into something better than I originally envisioned. Instead of buying an Amazon Alex, or using an actual home system, I used paper-mache to create a recognizably unrealistic home system named Amy, which says “Always Monitor(ing) You” on the side. I was inspired by the American Artist’s installation “Black Gooey Universe” because it incorporates physical computers with black paint and artistic expression. Making my own artistic facsimile of a home system enables me to represent home systems without buying one, which would invest in the same AI industries the installation critiques. Using paper-mache provided more space for me to fill with artistic expression, offering more layers for the audience to unpack. My intended audience can be anyone, but it is specifically designed to discomfort people who own home systems. However, the phenomenon of personal manipulation is widespread within the surveillance apparatus and affects everyone in different ways. I recorded the dialogue with my girlfriend, Addie Lowenstein, so listening to the presentation is particularly discomforting with our long-distance relationship where most of our communication happens through digital mediums. How do I know that I am not speaking to a deep-fake AI version of my girlfriend on FaceTime? Last year, while I was sound asleep, my mom received a call from a deep-fake AI version of my voice that told her I was arrested for drunk driving. After reflecting on my personal experience with deep-AI fakes, I added collages with images of people who have married robots/holograms to make the scenario in my presentation seem realistic. Directly above the mirror with the collages, I impulsively added X’s and O’s to a grid of mirrors. I did it with a friend, originally playing tic-tac-toe, but we realized it would be more meaningful if neither of us won – representing how everyone is hurt by the automation of relationships. The X’s and O’s also represent love (XOXO), which is the main theme within the broken relationship between Amelia and Jonathan. To illustrate the fallen love, I painted hearts that were square, resembling pixels, to represent how AI creates a digitized form of love that is simultaneously emotional and barren. I contrasted the square hearts with hearts made out of fingerprints, to represent the contrast between humans and machines and different relationships produced by each. I added a lot of phrases and scribbles also, but I will leave that up to the audience to interpret and decipher.

My installation is an example of critical making because it relays a critical message about AI systems while developing technology to articulate the argument. According to Matt Rano, critical making develops technology embedded with critique. Instead of articulating my argument through words, I demonstrate it through the creation of technology. Making technology that can demonstrate my point about AI enables me to prove my argument through the experience of the audience, making it more personal and physical. Although the technology developed for my presentation is not easily replicable in society, it still bridges the divide between creative exploration and physical implementation. I want to keep exploring the possibilities for creating technologies that enable people to reflect on the consequences of their existence. Technology that sends a social message, which can even be critical of itself, is fascinating because it entails creation and deconstruction. I want to create more art, media, and technology that is skeptical of its own existence to broaden the conditions of possibility necessary for imagination.





Yoo Bin Shin Final Project: On-Air

Throughout the semester, as we studied the discourse on various forms of technology, a recurring theme was its likening to a pharmakon, “a gift that is also a threat.” While being a gift that allows “exteriorization or supplementation” of human capacities, technology serves as a threat as excessive reliance on it wanes our human abilities [1].

In this project, I explored the idea of the fundamental duality of surveillance technology. Mark Tribe describes surveillance as one of the technologies that New Media Art attempts to address [2]. Consistent with the theme of duality, surveillance tends to be considered a “necessary evil”, dangerously bordering the lines of the positive from protection and entertainment to the negative from invasion of privacy.

Surveillance is oftentimes referred to as the gaze. The gaze can come in a multitude of forms. While the more recognizable forms that record data apparent to the human eye include CCTVs and police body cameras for law enforcement, our data is tracked more inconspicuously (or not anymore) by big tech companies. Namely, “[sites] like YouTube or Facebook or Twitter sucker people into providing free content, which can then be leveraged into something that can be retailed, such as advertising, personal information, marketing surveys, or surveillance” [3]. Personalized recommendations and successful targeted content algorithmically generated by these companies become incentives that continue to attract engagement. With time, “smaller and smaller moments of human life are being transformed into capital” [4].

Naturally, we are under the gaze 24/7, and all of this data congregates to somewhere connected to the Internet. Simply put, our lives are always “On-Air”. In contrast to the feeling of violation associated with the constant surveillance from the aforementioned forms, we are at the same time consciously contributing to the broadcasting of our lives. Through social media and livestreams, we are constantly broadcasting bits and pieces of ourselves on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. One obvious motivation is the incentive of attention and reaffirmation. The idea of being seen to others’ eyes and acknowledged by likes reveals narcissism. I speculate humans are innately narcissistic, and this seamlessly ties into people’s addiction to social media.

My final project deviates a lot from my initial proposal. Initially, I had planned on creating a virtual world that is unrecognizable to AI. The virtual world would be filled with 3D objects wrapped with 2D adversarial patches that trick image recognition models. For instance, placing an adversarial patch of a banana on an image of a dog would trick the model into misclassifying the dog as a banana. The virtual world was intended to critique our excessive reliance on algorithms and yet the absurdity of a world recognizable to just humans and not machines. Although this is what I had envisioned, given that the installation space allowed user interaction and the tools to interact with a 3D space very limited, I decided to pivot.

With “On-Air”, I aimed to critically inquire about the duality of surveillance technology. I wanted to recreate the feeling of simultaneous desire and disgust for the gaze, more specifically, a gaze that is realized by the object. The title of this piece draws inspiration from The Truman Show. Many turn to this film, which was first released twenty years ago, due to its eerie resemblance to our reality now. Truman’s life is broadcasted in real-time, while an unrealized and anonymous audience watches and empathizes with him. The Truman Show was truly prescient about the gaze that follows our daily lives.

Additionally, the piece was inspired by surveillance methods that pervade my personal life the most—Amazon Shopping and its product recommendations, Doordash and its meal-time notifications, and Duke’s “Panopto” and its questionable name. All three examples trigger a sense of comfort and discomfort in me. Although coming at the cost of my data being collected, I am incentivized by the convenience they offer to tolerate the surveillance. Another unifying characteristic is that they are not intrusive forms of surveillance but are seamlessly embedded in my life that, at first glance, they seem benign.

In order to materialize the visibly benign gaze, I placed a camera inside a Kleenex box. It conceals most of the camera from the viewer and camouflages with the installation space. The use of a Kleenex box was intentional because it is an everyday and commonplace item. It aims to denote both how intimately surveillance pervades our daily lives and how the most trivial and benign objects like a Kleenex can serve as a snippet of ourselves—for instance, your browsing of Kleenex on Amazon today may trigger a recommendation for a purchase tomorrow.

Then to convey the duality of surveillance technology, I divided the piece into the incentive and the threat. For the former, I incentivized surveillance by exploiting the narcissistic nature of the viewer. When a greater than usual motion or sound is detected, it triggers a laugh track. The laugh track is reminiscent of the unknown audience in The Truman Show behind the camera, while, in effect, it is synonymous with the Instagram likes and Twitter retweets that give a pleasing sense of affirmation to the viewer. On top of the audial incentive, a visual element of one’s face being displayed on the screen allures the viewer to continue interacting with the piece. These responses from the work are expected to incentivize the viewer’s engagement with the piece.

I was uncertain about how to best evoke subtle discomfort from surveillance. At first, I considered using another audial cue, an anxiety-inducing alarm, but this made the laugh track incentive less effective. I also considered uploading a snapshot or an unsettling tweet of “You are being watched” to more directly convey that the viewer was being broadcasted. However, ultimately, I decided to go with taking a snapshot every time an anomaly is detected and saving it. These snapshots are saved and played back as a slideshow adjacent to the live camera view. Only after the viewer has interacted with the piece for a while, do they notice images of them showing up. This response alludes to surveillance technology that reacts to particular triggers. For instance, in China, to promote anti-jaywalking, the government used surveillance technology to institute punishments by displaying jaywalkers’ faces on a billboard.

With “On Air”, I offer a critique on one of the widely disputed topics in New Media, surveillance. In the ideation and creation of the piece, I was able to reevaluate a technology that is deeply embedded in our culture. Then in the actuation, the piece mobilizes the technology that it attempts to criticize as the medium itself, which is a strategy oftentimes employed in critical making. With the message challenging the medium, the piece calls on the viewer to also reflect on their interaction with surveillance technology. Furthermore, the piece explores the idea of critical making as it is process-oriented. The piece only evolves when the viewer exists. As more viewers interact with the piece, more data is saved, and the piece becomes more valuable and more dangerous. The fact that the data collected during the exhibition is a part of the art portrays how the piece prioritizes the process. The piece doesn’t necessarily challenge traditional understandings of critical making but rather achieves the conventional objective to “provide a provocative, speculative…vision of our technological future” [5]. By working on this project, I was able to gain a new perspective on art-making and critical-making. I initially believed the hypothetical interpretation of the viewer should not affect the artist’s work. However, in the process, I looked for ways to simplify the art especially because critical making means something is intentional and thought-provoking. I learned that a simple artifact may achieve that best.


Annotated Max/MSP Patch

Prototype of final project displayed on laptop

Final Project Installation

Works Cited

[1] Mitchell, W J. T, and Mark B. N. Hansen. Critical Terms for Media Studies., 2010. Print.

[2] Tribe, Mark, et al. New Media Art. Taschen, 2009.

[3] Mirowski, Philip. The Road from Mont Pèlerin: The Making of the Neoliberal Thought Collective, With a New Preface. United States, Harvard University Press, 2015.

[4] Paglen, Trevor. “Invisible Images (Your Pictures Are Looking at You).” The New Inquiry, 8 Dec. 2016, https://thenewinquiry.com/invisible-images-your-pictures-are-looking-at-you/.

[5] Hertz, Garnet. “What Is Critical Making?” Current, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, https://current.ecuad.ca/what-is-critical-making.

Final Project: NFT not for touch by Pierre Nanquette

As we have discussed throughout the semester, the digital world is undergoing major changes. Technological advancements have continuously increased the relevance of the digital world to the real world. One notable manifestation of this revolution is expressed through the rush of NFTs. For many years, digital artists encountered issues in gaining the deserved financial return for their hard works. This is naturally because whenever something is published on the internet, there is most likely an endless number of methods one can use to “pirate” the work or have access to it freely. Therefore, when the concept of applying a blockchain to a digital asset that would make it have something it never did before: Uniqueness; It propelled a movement of artists and others to attempt to make use of this new system for various purposes. NFTs have thus in some become a new “Medium” much like McLuhan’s idea. However, as much as it provides opportunities to digital artists, the movement behind NFTs has ascended into the level of mania. The NFT art market is exploding with assets that do not necessarily express any specific form of critical art by the standards of Matt Retto where a work must exhibit a form of social reflection. Instead, the market is engulfed with many fancy terms and words such as “procedurally generated”, “AI-generated art” and so on.

These works often portray themselves with a specific goal of representing something, ranging from online communities to specific elements in the real world. When only very few maintain the responsibility of what they market till the end.

It is with this perception that I have deiced to make a critical media project upon this subject. However, my intention Is not to discredit the entirety of NFTs. Instead, it is more of a “questioning” on the amount of faith or speculation that people put into them.

I took inspiration for my project’s design upon the ideas of Retto and Mclauran’s. Through their work, I have understood the importance of the medium used to express the ideas behind a critical art piece. While the final product makes the most of a work, the reason why it was done in a certain way sometime can express more. Hence, I wanted to create a work that would resemble as much as possible to NFTs that people would purchase. The idea is to express my critic through a medium that looks as close as possible to a 3D NFTs. To achieve this, I directed my attention to the 3D modules of Max MSP

The core ideas behind the project can be divided into three phases, the discovery phase, the interaction phase and finally the boredom phase. The discovery phase consists of striking the audience with an impactful visualization that is supposed to be generating the emotions that would let people to attribute value to this asset. The second phase aims to recreate the initial focus and enjoyment that people have whenever they purchase the NFT that they were attracted to. Finally, the final phase aims to dissolve the excitement that the audience initially had towards this product. The chosen elements and their specific placements are done in such a way that is supposed to facilitate this effect of disillusioning by presenting the NFT mania in abstraction.

Specifically, I used Max MSP’s jitter and openGL features to enable me to create 3D objects with physical bodies and user interactions. The project itself can be described as a 3d plane that is composed of cubes that have dynamically changing lengths defined by a cos function. This creates a platform that showcase the behavior of a wave. The wave’s frequency is set as in such way that it creates an outward movement. Then, a series of objects are generated above the platform. These objects are spheres that are regenerated over a specific interval of time. The jit.phys then provides these spheres with physical properties. As soon as they are generated, they fall and collide with the platform. The latter then pushes the spheres out to its extremity where they fall off the edge and disappear off the rendering distance. The spheres represent NFTs, and the wave platform represents people’s interest in them. When new NFTs are created, they are in the center of the wave platform, supposedly reflecting their popularity. But as time goes on these NFTs become less relevant and eventually they are replaced with new ones. This implementation showcases a never-ending cycle that raises the question behind the uniqueness of NFT. Finally, the endless pit in which the NFTs fall into aims to show the speculative aspect of NFTs. This distance between the user and NFT is what inspired me to name the project as “NFT: Not for touch”

Unfortunately, this implementation isn’t what I originally sought to achieve. Initially speaking, I intended to attach this patch with a module that webscrapps a NFT sales website to have a synced-up generation of NFTs (spheres) upon the platform. However, due to the lack of technical understanding and skills this was ultimately abandoned. Similarly, I also originally planned to connect the collision mechanism of the physical bodies in the patch with audio feedback but didn’t manage to collect this information is a way that would have worked correctly.

All in all, I believe my project satisfies the condition of critical media in that It does not try to directly influence its audience. Instead, it allows the audience to engage with the work and then provide them with the opportunity to question about the nature of NFT mania. By working on this project, I was able to explore more in the domain of artistic expression with technology. Throughout the course of the semester, we have discussed how technology shapes our current society but, in the end, we are the ones who decided how to use them. The usage of advanced technology especially one like Max MSP where all human perception and advanced technology are united together to create stunning critical art pieces has taught me that technology can be used differently.

Noelle Garrick Final Project: Arrhythmia

As I started my final project, I finally felt a sense of solidification with the concepts described in class. In particular, one of the first articles we ever read by Garnet Hertz described critical media as an intersection between the cerebral nature of critical thinking and the tangibility that arises from production. They asserted that “critical making” could challenge both of these disciplines in the sense that the products made did not have to have explicit practical and convenient function and therefore could challenge the conventional qualifications about what should be considered a product. From the beginning, I know I wanted to design something that was interactive and visual, but with the intention of being cathartic or relatable in some way. It didn’t need to be a strong solution to any particular problem. The tools provided pushed me towards abstraction and emotionality, trying to create a representation of an experience I shared with other people. In this way, it was communicative.

Mindy Seu in “The Poetry of Tools” makes the simple assertion that “tools shape the way we behave.” They are extensions of us and are products that allow us to interact with other products. Learning this new tool over the course of the semester, I can assert that it greatly influenced the way I approached creating. It challenged me in many ways and the outputs often changed my trajectory or inspired different paths. My final product could also be considered a rudimentary tool. It is an audio reactive interface that intends to provide some momentary interest by encouraging unconventional behavior and investigation. 

Ultimately, I desired to be intentional and artistic with my design. We discussed technology’s great power to reflect and modify us for better or worse, and in particular how this can happen through an “embodied self.” Our identity within the digital scape has bearing on our attitudes and perspectives. I aimed to imbue enough explicitly human traits to sympathize and yet enough of an abstract sense of “tech” to have a significant impact.

My project is essentially an audio reactive visual. I designed a 3D model heart that is textured by the webcam so the user is divided and reflected all around it.

Sounds produced by the user are translated into a numerical input which affect the model and background, making the heart expand. This is intended to be a representation of strong emotions effect on the body, not necessarily negative. Often, when I am extremely stressed or overwhelmed, there is a surreal sense of disbelief. I am hyper aware of the meaning I am assigning to things and how these calculations are causing me mental and emotional distress. This is represented through the material of the model being a reflection. It is intended to represent self-awareness, self-agency, and yet a sense of fragmentation under the cause of the pressure. The video in the background is the same as the one faded with the webcam footage. This is a similar logic of choice in the sense that individuals become of there environments in a myriad of ways and also have an effect upon their surroundings. I wanted there to be a slight lack of boundary between where the model stopped and the background began. It felt like a good way of displaying a vulnerability of the subject, as if they were becoming the surroundings and losing grounded-ness. I chose a human heart as the model for a few reasons. I was debating between that or a brain, since those are both widely and instantly recognizable body parts that are associated with the stress response. I settled on a heart because I thought it had a better balance of mental and physical connotations and because the pulsation reaction from the audio translated better to this organ. In addition to movement, the model changes color with the expansions. This almost looked like moments before an explosion, and this likewise went with my theme. Thus, I leaned into it.

As a student, I only had true context for what I imagine are the main concerns and emotions of other students. Even so, I think my thesis ties in to broader emotions shared by most of the world, and therefore I don’t consider my audience to be exclusive to this group.

I think my project fits well within the critical making sphere. It was process oriented with intentional decisions designed to call attention to an aspect of society. In this way, it falls under Hertz’s interpretation. One thing I would disagree with however, is the notion that expression should trump technical refinement. As we discussed in class, our world increasingly operates within these digital scapes. As such, a strong level of technical refinement is necessary for effective communication and expression. In this example, I had to get over certain hurdles within Max MSP in order to construct my idea and there wasn’t a way around that. Additionally, I believe strongly that tools and systems should be repurposed and rarely dismantled. The ways in which tech has changed us are opportunities for discussion about the nature of people as creators of an experience. When I designed my project, it was impossible for me to conceptualize it in a way that did not involve technology. It is such a socially ingrained tool. 

One thing I found ironic was the way in which, in an effort to create a unique expression of a particular emotion I had to try and generalize it. I was thinking of it in terms of my peers and how the work would be received, what associations would make sense, etc. In this way, I can’t tell if I made the project for myself or others. If I recall correctly, in class we discussed how critical making is rooted in activism and therefore goes beyond the individual artist. I think I feel some sense of satisfaction and connection to something grater through the process of making art about an issue I feel passionately about. At the same time, because of the nature of tools as extensions of us influencing behavior, its hard not to wonder how my expression would have changed if the medium was different.

Final Project: BEAT by Cynthia France

If you had told me just a few months ago that I would be enrolled in a VMS course this semester, I probably would have laughed in your face. To fall semester me, I was firmly cemented in the “tech” side of college, not to mention severely lacking in all forms of creativity. Yet looking through the course offerings one late night (or would it be considered early morning?), this course had repeatedly drawn my attention. From the description, it seemed like the perfect marriage of my interests: technology, with a bit of music and art involved. Although my talents never lied within the arts, I was keen on seeing and exploring the intersection between two very different fields of study—one of supposed structure and rigidity, and the other fully free-flowing.

Developing upon my initial interest in this class, I’d been particularly drawn towards McLuhan’s idea that “The Medium is the Message.” I had never really thought about the way in which a message was delivered before. Coming from a background in which the make-up of every product was essentially one and the same, it had never struck me as important the way in which the medium itself could be used to deliver the message. I liked how this expanded the ways in which a message can be delivered: mediums are not just a means to an end, they are, in a way, the end themselves. The medium is as much a tool as it is the final product.

In a similar fashion, I also found myself intrigued by the ideas in Reas and McWilliams’ “What is Code,” specifically when they talk about “thinking in code” and how the way in which you think changes with the medium you are working with. With code, one must approach solutions from the standpoint of using something (ie algorithms, procedures) to allow the machine to achieve your goal, whereas traditional mediums are approached from the angle of producing the result yourself.

It was my aim to embody these two ideas for my final project. The project itself was inspired by what many would call the “sophomore slump.” As the semester dragged on, I observed my friends and I slowly descending into a state of apathy with a constant undercurrent of anxiety mixed in. To us, it felt as if nothing was under our control, that we were stuck in an endless tide of school, work, sleep, repeat. To deal with this, we each began to develop our own habits: ways in which to overcome—beat—anxiety. Despite my harping earlier on, I do have some classical music training under my belt. As such, I’m naturally more drawn towards the applications of technology and music. However for this project, I wanted to do something a bit more unorthodox from the traditional melodies I was used to hearing.

The project in and of itself is not a complete art piece. Instead, it is a blank canvas waiting to be used. Using a different way of thinking, I approached the project not with the goal of producing a product, but a means in which products can be produced. In it, I play with the idea of sound augmentation, of utilizing sounds associated with anxiety to create a masterpiece. In this sense, the medium *is* the message, or perhaps the medium plus the process embodies the message: although we are dealt these unfortunate cards, we are ultimately the ones that take back control, using what is given to produce a piece that is entirely and wholly of my creation. Although the end result of the project is a piece of artwork/music, perhaps what is more important is the restoration of control, of defining a space for “us” in a world that is most certainly not.

original schematics

In terms of the project itself, I deviated quite a lot from my original plan. As can be seen in my original schematics, I had planned for a grid of rigidly planned out sounds, with each button serving as a unification/multiplication of two different anxiety-related sounds. The UI was meant to be quite bare-bones, structured, and straightforward. The goal of this was to further drive home the idea of taking back control, or re-establishing order in a chaotic world.

Starting Screen

Perhaps it is a reflection of how the semester went, or my mental health, but the end product is something much different. The only constant between the plan and final product was the control panel and the foundational idea of buttons. My final product features buttons that start off in a grid (carryover from the initial idea), but these buttons are circular and bounce around the screen randomly. Not only that, but the sounds associate with each button is randomly chosen from a preset list, and from it an associated color is generated. The user, everyday people like you and I, is able to play with the sounds associated with these buttons (SoundCookies), changing its volume and playback speed and “depositing/drawing” them (SoundBytes) onto the canvas. The visual representation of such augmented sounds relate to how they are changed: those with greater volume are more opaque, while clips that have been sped up are larger circles than those of slower playback speeds. When one of the original SoundCookies passes over a SoundByte, the augmented audio of the byte is played. As the user continues to draw, a visual and auditory piece is created. In addition to the preset audio files, users also have the option of uploading/using their own.

A possible project

In the end, I chose to go for this arguable more “artistic” representation of my project rather than my initial vision because I thought that although structure implies control, part of the reason we are suffering is because of the rigid academic structure set in place for us. By allowing the SoundCookies roam freely, and allowing SoundBytes to be created so randomly, we are rejecting the rigidity of society, choosing to show a unique and beautiful representation of ourselves.

Upload own audio

Beyond its unique interpretation of art and the unorthodox method of execution, my project explores the idea of critical making through freeform expression. It approaches art not from the standpoint that it is a one-and-done piece of work, but a constantly growing, adapting, and almost living body of art. Each user that comes by breathes their own life into this project, allowing it to take on the forms of each person it encounters. Using the medium of anxiety related sounds, the project critiques and ultimately rejects the rigidity and structure of society that has caused many to lose themselves, allowing us to instead reassert control and express ourselves in a way that is not defined by anything other than ourselves. However, I do think it’s quite ironic that the project, although supposed to represent a taking control of oneself, is created through technology, and once deleted cannot be retrieved nor recreated. While some might say this detracts from the message, I think it perfectly represents us as living beings: we are constantly adapting, learning, and evolving. The person we were yesterday is not the same person we are today, is not the same person as we will be tomorrow. Just like how the SoundCookies are constantly moving and changing and how each iteration of the project is different, we too are constantly evolving, changing, and growing.

My project does not challenge any ideas we’ve discussed thus far, instead building on them to create something that will be unique for each individual that comes across it.

Click here to see more pictures!

Final Project: A Home Away from Home

As a junior, about to become a senior, I’ve been reflecting upon my years at Duke and the impact I will have left on campus by the time I graduate, no matter how big or how small it is. One key reason I took this class was so I could find new ways to express myself artistically since most of my classes have been in the science and engineering fields, which value accuracy and formulas and calculations over the freedom of expression and the formulation of opinions. I realized that there was a common thread behind the things that I chose to involve myself in. I always sought out opportunities to experience new cultures and cultivate a better international student life experience on campus. After my first presentation on Nam June Paik’s Electronic Superhighway, I started considering using a map as a medium to convey my message regarding Duke’s global community and the history of international students on campus, and step by step I developed what has now become my final project.

One of my favourite works from this semester is still our first reading, “The Medium is the Message” by Marshall McLuhan. I think it was a great introduction into the class, and I really liked his point about a medium being an “extension of ourselves”, a way to help us convey an idea by using materials (whether physical or virtual) to help us broaden the scope of our association with the concept. I am a super hands-on learner, and I think there is great value in using physical models or technology when trying to explain a concept. The use of physical definitely something that I wanted to further explore in my final project. Another topic that we explored that really spoke to me was our module on critical making and new media art, particularly the “Electronic Civil Disobedience” reading by the Critical Art Ensemble, and the “Wage Islands” artwork by Ekene Ijeoma that we discussed during the module. I liked the comparison of traditional civil disobedience and electronic civil disobedience that the reading makes. From my understanding, traditional civil disobedience involves people who are all very politically inclined. Electronic civil disobedience, however, may involve an audience or consumers (for example, NFTs) that are not necessarily looking to be involved politically. I enjoyed thinking about how everyday people can use their own means to critique the world around them and have the freedom to formulate their own opinions, without the pressure of being affiliated with a political group, although that may be difficult at times nowadays. In all of the artist works we looked into, I especially liked the “Wage Islands” piece because it was so simple yet effective. By using a physical model, it was extremely easy to draw a comparison from apartment space to cost, so easy that I can still remember the main message behind the piece even though we discussed it months ago. I also really liked Ekene Ijeoma’s use of the liquid to both hide and reveal, I thought it was very elegantly clever. For my final project, I was inspired to think more deeply about what I wanted to critique in my own surroundings and be as specific as possible.

For my final project, I initially wanted to do a large-scale statistical analysis on the history of international students at Duke. I wanted to collect data on the number of undergraduate international students at Duke on a holistic level and analyze how it has changed over time. I also wanted to break it down and look at the data for each continent, because I had heard from my coworkers at International House that Duke has been struggling with recruiting students from Africa recently and I was curious about the data from other locations. This was all data I could gather from looking at statistics from Duke Visa Services, which publishes information on the number of international students at Duke from every country around the world every year. However, as I got further into my project, I realized that a mere data analysis would not really satisfy the message I wanted to convey with the project. I wanted to critique how the treatment of international students has changed over the years. Therefore, I started to draw upon resources at Duke Archives and I reached out to a few of the librarians.

Ms. Amy McDonald provided me a few sources, which I used for my video pieces. I wanted the video information to be concise but also interesting and use a “show-not-tell” perspective, displaying not just a summary of the timeline of international student involvement at Duke, but including anecdotes and examples to get my point across. I decided to make a physical map to add user interaction into my project and to help solidify the message by allowing the user to scroll through the clips and choose which ones they would like to view first. I also really wanted to learn how to connect the Arduino to Max/MSP because I’ve used the Arduino many times for class projects in my biomedical engineering courses, and the idea of using it in a different context was very appealing. In order to honor my initial idea behind the project, I decided to still include a smaller data section, which shows the changes in the total undergraduate international students enrolled from 1999 to 2020.

My intended audience is the general Duke population, but particularly those who are either unfamiliar with the international student population or curious about how identities they consider themselves us fit into the Duke community. For example, having grown up in a Chinese household, it was very enlightening to learn about the first Asian students at Duke, and it made me feel more at home here knowing that many that have come before me and Duke has made an impact on the education of thousands of Asian students in the past. Although the road was not smooth, it is very inspiring to see the progress we have made in recognizing Asian identities around campus and advocating for the voices of Asian students. I hope that every Duke student that views my work may take away from it that everyone has had a unique path to Duke, and everyone will go their separate ways after they graduate. It is important to understand that the assumptions we draw about people may not define them, the place people come from does not dictate their values, and the concept of home is not always simple. However, many “foreigners” or “aliens” have come to Duke and made a home here nonetheless. I believe that everyone deserves to build a community here and make Duke a home away from home, and everyone plays a part in that. The way the institution views the value of international students has changed in the past few decades, and the amount of support they lend to departments like International House has also changed. These things have monumental effects on how the rest of the Duke population perceives international students, and I do believe that more education and transparency on the history of international students will allow the general Duke population to be more open-minded to befriending and learning from people of various cultures.

I think my project explores critical making by delivering my message through various mediums: electronic circuitry, laser cutting on wood, and Max/MSP virtual software. As we have discussed in class, a medium itself can convey a lot about what the creator is trying to imply. In my piece, my physical representation of the map represents the scope of the data and provides a more memorable design and structure to the project. The project also critiques an aspect of the social life at Duke through an artistic lens and allows me to extend my ability to share with others my own interpretation of the data and history, which we have defined as being a crucial part of critical making and the thought process that goes behind coming up with a project idea. I also think it conveys a critique through the physical realization of an artwork and has helped me think more critically about the topic as well as the artist, which we’ve discussed as being a part of the process of critical making. I do not think that my project offers a very new lens about critical making and what it can do, but it has given me a very new perspective on visual arts. I always thought that my interest in engineering prevents me from dedicating a lot of time towards creativity and art, but I think this project and the concept of critical making has changed my mind. I can see how my experience in Arduino and circuitry and laser cutting has been able to contribute towards expressing my message in a way that I have never associated with art before.

Please see this link for images and videos from my final project process, along with my final Max patch!

Please see this link for my final project presentation slides.

Pierre Midterm

My part starts around 27 minutes into the video, sorry for the delay

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