Notes on: Heider Simmel Experiment & Behavioral Objects

After watching the Heider Simmel animation, I would say that the metaphorical ”story” told by these moving shapes would be about bullying in a way? When the bigger triangle starts attacking the smaller one the circle watches shyly without doing anything to stop this abuse of a smaller, ”weaker” individual. Then, when it is stuck inside the ”room” with this big triangle bully and it starts attacking him, the smaller triangle also witnesses it and stand by, without acting. The only way they can actually finally run away and ”defeat” the bigger triangle is by joining together, helping each other. They are able to escape this bully through mutual aid. At the end, the bigger triangle destroys what is left of the room out of frustration for being defeated by these ”inferior shapes”. To me, this is a story about solidarity.

  • This study was to show that we tend to anthropomorphize things as soon as they move, and we project emotions, personalities and behaviours into these simple shapes.
  • we often concentrate on the visual aspect of things, like with shapes or objects that have limbs and physical human characteristics, but this shows that behaviour also conveys a lot of the meaning, of what makes us feel like something is a ”human being”


Notes on: Participation and Relational Aesthetics

  • Joseph Beuys:
    • creates spaces for people to interact within
    • the focus of his art is allowing people to organize in social groups and interact in these ”social sculptures”
    • Beuys thought everybody had potential to be artists, shouldn’t be a separation between art and everyday life.
  • Paik: worked with tvs as a way of interactivity
  • Nicolas Bouriaud:
    • french curator, co director of Palais de Tokyo, gallery in Paris
    • wrote a book called relational aesthetics, people were thinking about consumer society and making art with mass produced stuff, but he believes theres a new trend in contemporary art of focus on relationship between people, ”relational aesthetics”.
    • use of art to create bonds between communities, including marginal people. example: public ping pong tables on the street Montreal.
  • Rirkrit Tiravanija:
    • from Argentina, recreates social events based around the sharing of food (within the gallery).
    • Even when the event has ended, the traces left are still valuable to this artist
    • the object itself isn’t important, it is the event that took place that is.
  • Relational aesthetics artists don’t want to be part of a movement, the idea is simply to make connections through art induced networking
  • Lucy + Jorge Orta:
    • create enormous banquets, sometimes in public places
    • use discarded food, wasted ”unperfect” food from supermarkets or restaurants, and ask chefs to cook delicious banquets for people to share.
    • in another piece they use clothing to allude to gathering of people
  • Rafael Lozano-Hemmer:
    • uses technology to create links between people, but at the same time puts screen in between them, a separation of sorts.
    • for example: people on a beach and others playing in a sandbox interact and connect via projections and other technologies.
  • Dora Garcia: creates participatory artworks, using piece of writing
  • Jonas Saal:
    • works on scale of society and politics, created the new world summit
    • experiments with world politics in the realm of art through creation of spaces where people can meet for politics.
  • Overall, in relational aesthetics rather than being an object or image, the art is the kind of relationships people have and develop.

Mini Lesson Proposal

Mini-Lesson Presentation Proposal

Artist chosen: Jennifer Steinkamp   ***we had a misunderstanding concerning my artist choice, so although this proposal is on Steinkamp, my final project will be on Greyworld.***

Jennifer Steinkamp is an American artist that was born in Denver, Colorado and has since went on to create interactive artworks and installations that explore themes such as the use and role of space, architecture, movement and perception of the world around us. She studied at the  Art Center College of Design in Pasadena as well as the California Institute of the Arts. She is mostly known for her multimedia installations of projected video and sound that often uses nature imagery, like trees, flowers or fruit, to immerse the visitors in these interactive scapes and create an interaction between people and the space they are evolving in. The interactive side of her artwork is sometimes more subtle and other times more direct, for example in her exhibition Womb, in which the visitor is invited to manipulate using a controller virtual fruits that metaphorically represent ovaries and process of life creation within the womb.

Tentative outline of presentation:

  1. title slide
  2. brief biography of the artist, where she’s from, studied, her background.
  3. what themes does her art explore, what is specific to her work, her field of practice.
  4. some of her major interactive exhibitions/work (maybe multiple slides for this)
  5. her creative process, what inspires her, her techniques, her mediums.
  6. what kind of interactive art is she creating (based on what we learned in class).
  7. ‘’context’’, what message is she trying to convey in her work.
  8. types of aesthetics, visuals and formal analysis of her style, importance of nature imagery in her art.
  9. conclusion?


Here are some guiding research questions I will use to further develop my mini lesson:

  • What inspires Steinkamp to use nature imagery in her work repeatedly? What is the reasoning behind this choice?
  • What would be Steinkamp most influential piece/exhibition of her career, the work that caused her to become such a well-known and respected artist?
  • What is her creating process, what gets her started in her ideas and creative development, what materials does she use and who does she collaborate with?
  • What is the general response and reactions to her work, are people shocked, fascinates, moved, etc.? (use reviews of her exhibits for this).

keywords: Jennifer Steinkamp, Interactive, Impeach Womb, nature imagery, virtual reality, video installations, immersive, integration of music, collaborative work, Lehmann Maupin Gallery, Healing art therapy

Preliminary bibliography:

Jennifer Steinkamp’s official artist website.

Capone, Sean. ‘’Animation and Abstraction: Jennifer Steinkamp Interviewed by Sean Capone’’, Bomb art magazine, September 18 2018.

Wilkin, Karen. ‘’Jennifer Steinkamp: ‘Blind Eye’ Review: Exploring the Digital Landscape’’, The Wall Street Journal, August 20 2018.

‘’Jennifer Steinkamp Impeach’’, Lehmann Maupin Gallery official website.


Project 1: Process

As detailed in my proposal, my project will consist of an interactive virtual ”gardening” using scratch and makey makey as well as real, potted plants.


On the first class working on the project, I got my proposal approved by the teacher and created a simplified prototype of it to make sure that my system did work. I made the prototype using materials I had in hand, including plastic cups and blue colored sand. Obviously these will not be the materials used in the final version but they work in a similar way.

This test was conclusive,which meant I could start working on the real thing once I got the necessary materials. I then used the rest of class time to familiarize myself with scratch and test different tutorials.


On the next class, I decided to use to time given to work on the project to start coding my basic scratch ”game”, using temporary stock images of flowers and a garden background simply in order to visualize the space and how I should position my elements once I drew them. This scratch project served as a first prototype, without any sound and using simply the basic command ”when x is pressed –> go to next costume”. Each flower only had two costumes as well on this version, as I felt I didn’t need any more for this test. I sadly cannot find this version on my scratch account anymore, I’m not sure if it wasn’t saved or I deleted it by accident?

I then started researching sound effects to eventually add to my project, and chose a background sound of chirping birds and buzzing bees to create a garden atmosphere (an english country garden in July by Keith Selmes on FreeSound). I also had the idea at this moment to add a sound effect when the flower blooms as well, but the question was which sound to choose? I landed on short instrumental sounds, as I felt they best suited this context. I chose a harp crescendo for the sunflower (sample harp 2 on Sound Fishing), a sort of piano music for the tulip (win.wav by Otis James on FreeSound) and a more metallic musical sound for the rose (Indian Harp Runs and Flutters by luckylittleraven on FreeSound).

I did not have the time to code the sounds into the game yet but plan on doing it at home before next class, when I will finally build the physical part of my project.


during this week I worked a lot on my project at home. I started by illustrating in Photoshop a  grass and sky backdrop with small heaps of dirt for the flowers to ”grow from”. I then went on to draw each ”stage of growth” of my flowers in Photoshop as well (each flower has 5 stages, from a sprout to a bloom). After finishing the drawings I exported each element individually in PNG so it had a transparent background and could therefore be easily integrated into the visual game.

I then started working on the final scratch project. I edited my prototype by changing the images of the background and flowers for the ones I’d just created and added the new costumes as well. At first I had only one costume per stage of growth, but then realised that only have 5 costumes would cause the plant to grow way too fast as my system creates a longer connection, which causes the same effect as if you pressed down the key for multiple seconds. To remedy this I duplicated each costume about ten times.

I also detailed the code further through the addition of my sound effects. The background ambient sound was easier to code into the background, as seen below:

However, the sounds associated with the flowers were more complicated to code as the sound had to only play once a specific costume was reached, at the precise moment when the flower bloomed, as these musical sounds were a ”win” moment in a way. I finally figured out how to make this work as seen in the final codes for the flowers below:

this finalized the scratch part of my project, I only needed to put everything together using makey makey, which I plan to do next class.


Before this class I went to buy a plastic watering can as well as three terracotta pots and some soil in order to begin building the physical part of my project.

I worked in the workshop using a makey makey kit plastic covered wires to connect the ground to the bottom of the watering can and the left arrow key, up arrow key and right arrow key each to an individual terracotta pot (by passing the wire in the hole at the bottom of the pot and up through the soil and to the surface). I had first planned to set the wire in a spiral in the soil so that it covered as much surface as possible so that I could water anywhere and contact would still be made. However this odd shaping of the wires caused instability and it didn’t stay in place, so I decided to set it straight up to where the base of the plant would be, so that I at least knew where to water.

I then filled the watering can with water and tested my system by plugging the makey makey kit into the computer and pouring water on the soil of the pots and simultaneously the wires in order to create a circuit through the conductive water. This worked perfectly and the plants grew on screen just as planned.

The only thing left to do at this point is find and transplant real plants into the pots as well as find a clean way to hide the wires and the makey makey kit, which I plan to do next class.


Today’s class is the final class to finalize and hand in the project. Before coming to class I bought a tulip as well as another small plant that looked similar to a rose, as of course I couldn’t find the exact species I was looking for. The ”sunflower” plant I got from my home. In the workshop, I potted each plant in their respective terracotta pots that I had set up the class before. I made sure that I could still easily water the wire even with the addition of the plant. Finally, I found a simple black shoebox which I used to cover my makey makey kit and wires.

After testing everything one last time with success my project was then finally ready to be presented!

Notes from February 27 class

Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Arts

  • Santiago Ramon y Cajal: first to draw neurons, nervous tissues made of individual cells, in 1850s.
  • Ada Lovelace, “launched the digital age”, inventor of programming. Worked with guy who first thought of computer, the analytical engine, first to describe it.
  • Alan Turing: first to actually build a real ancestor of the computer.Founder of computer science and cryptographer.
  • Cybernetics: The scientific study of control and communication in the animal and the machine. Cybernetics: not to same thing as AI. The art of regulation, comparing, sensing, acting.
  • Even in the 50s, robots with sort of artificial intelligence are treated almost as small animals, they have names and a “mind” of their own. They were like two neurons organisms.
  • Gordon Pask aesthetics and the pleasure of adaptation, take the threshold neurons concepts, but for a musical performance. Conversation theory of Interactivity.
  • Nicolas Schoffer: created CYSP 1 in 1956, robot which had censors that allow it to adapt its behaviours to the surrounding environment.

Project 1 Proposal

The idea I decided to choose for this first project will use Makey Makey as a way to create interactivity between physical objects and the computer, influencing the Scratch creation that appears on the screen that will include visual, sound and perhaps animated elements. The project will be composed of three or more terracotta pots with plants growing in each. Three similar plant illustrations will appear on the screen, and as one waters the real plants with a watering can, the virtual plants will grow. The more you water them, the more the plants grow before eventually blooming. 

The circuit will be integrated in a seamless way, as one end of the wires will be buried in the dirt in the pots (entering through holes at the bottom so they are as hidden as possible). The other end of the wire might be slightly more visible as it will be attached to the watering can, in contact with the water in it. Perhaps the whole will be placed in a piece of cardboard to hide the wires better. I will use three of the arrow touches that will each be associated to a plant (real and virtual). When triggered, these touches will cause the plants in scratch to become taller, grow and change slightly. There will only be one water-can to make contact with the three circuits.

I wanted to create a way to bring gardening and new virtual technologies together. I believe gardening is such an amazing way to reconnect with nature, and the process of taking care of another living thing, even a simple plant, can be very therapeutic. During winter or simply when living in a city like Montreal, our contacts with nature are rare and having interior plants or a garden is a way to get these interactions that are, although often overlooked, highly important. 

I will make this project happen with three small interior plants that also look like they could possibly grow outdoors in gardens during summer, and using Makey Makey I will have three wires going from arrow touches connections to the surface of the dirt around the potted plants. I will arrange them in spirals so that they make contact more easily. Another wire will connect the Makey Makey pad with the water in a watering can. Since water is conductive, when water is poured from the watering can onto the potted plants, it will make contact with the other end of the circuit, triggering the touches and causing the virtual plant associated with it to grow. For the visuals I will use scratch and illustrate the plants myself.

The materials I will need include:

  • a whole Makey Makey kit
  • some copper or other metal wires
  • a computer
  • the scratch program
  • a watering can
  • three potted plants
  • water

Brainstorming for first project: 3 ideas

For this first Interactive art project using Makey Makey and Scratch, I have developed 3 preliminary ideas, and will afterwards choose my favorite for the final project.

  1. For this first idea I would  use potted plants as control for a scratch visual. I would have for example three potted plants, with on end of the electric wire hidden in the dirt for each and another end inside a watering can containing water. When I would pour water on the plants, the water would allow the two ends to connect and activate the keyboard commands, making similar illustrated plants on the scratch project grow. The more you water the plants, the bigger the plants on the screen grow.
  2. As my second idea I was thinking of doing a game more directed towards kids. I would have a couple stuffed animals of forest creatures with wires hidden in them and connected to maybe a metal button on their back? When you would touch the button on one stuffed animal, the image of this animal on the scratch game would move, maybe make the sound of this animal? This would be a way to educate kids on the Canadian fauna.
  3. Finally, my third idea would be to make an interactive poetry book when each page turned causes a sound effect attached to some of my favorite poems, all collected in this book. The sounds could be ambient nature sounds or the author reading the poem, etc. This would be a way to make poetry more accessible and entertaining.

Week 5 class notes and review

First word art : new, one of a kind art.

Interact or die… Arjen Mulder, how does a piece of art get the audience to interact?

Lygia Clark,

Myron krueger, media arts artist. Used pressure sensitive pads that sensed the presence of people in the room. Failed since there were always people in the room, then created videoplace, allowed people to draw with their image on screen, realised it was a natural desire to interact and identify with what you see on the screen.

dan graham: present continuous past, monitors with films of the visitors but with a delay.

David Rokeby: Very Nervous System, depending on where you are in the room, it makes different sounds. Move your body and discover where the sounds are. Cameras detect movement and depending where and how you are positioned makes various sounds and notes, becoming music. Collaborated with Paul Garrin for Border Patrol, about conflict between north and south korea.

Yuppie Ghetto by Paul Garrin, fence between you and fancy, wealthy people, when you approach a screen with barking dogs turns on, to recreate the experience of people who are of lower classes and are rejected from this kind of privilege.

Scott Snibbe: Boundary Functions, our personal space is influenced by others, you cannot interact with the peace if you are alone, the shapes change according to the people’s position. A lot of interactive arts is physical, tangible elements.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Sandbox, people on beach miniaturized in projection in a sandbox where people can use their hands and interact with sand, which projects enlarged on the beach.

Bernie Lubell: conservation of intimacy, interesting wood installation in which different forces and movements interact and cause others.



Learned about interactive artworks by various artists and introduction to makey makey and scratch

Class 4 notes + commentary


Beth la Pensee

  • works in game and comics design for indigenous. Involved in indigenous futurism.
  • integrates indigenous traditions into video games.
  • thunderbird strike game: game that ecounrages eco terrorism, a thunderbird attacks a pipeline
  • coyote science: science game with indigenous village context

Meagan Byrne

  • games include layers of madness : paper world game with beautiful aesthetics, also wanisinowin lost

Minority’s spirits of spring set in northern Quebec and touches on the topic of bullying.

Thegift of food 2015:

  • plays through seasons and celebrations as seen by indigenous
  • only played by the members of the community
  • values: collaboration, generosity, stewardship. diversity
  • diversity is a central theme of the game: you win if you have diversity of resources
  • well being

Ian Bogost

  • uses games rhetoric in order to influence people, make arguments,
  • can be done through visuals or words.
  • this could also be done by using interactivity in games, creating a rhetoric simulation in which the audience is engaged and guided in order to be convinced of something or teach about a certain topic.
  • september 12: news games, to talk about how futile the war against terrorists is, how so many civilians are affected unjustly.
  • fort mcmoney: documentary game, tells the story of oil industry in fort mcmurray but with player participation.