Category Archive: Physical Computing

  1. Memorial for Catherine Lique

    Memorial for Catherine Lique, 2009
    12″ x 12″ x 2″

    Plexiglass, LEDs, electronics, audio recording

    This interactive installation appears as a mirror to the viewer. When they step on the pressure sensor, a microcontroller triggers LED lights to backlight the lightbox, revealing the image of Catherine Lique, a sex worker who was killed in 2003. The accompanying audio piece, a first person narrative, tells the story of the life and death of Ms. Lique. The audio, also triggered by the sensor, is programmed to play through Processing. The narrative was written by Catherine’s daughter, Stephanie.

    Memorial for Catherine Lique is the first of a series to honor and remember sex workers who have been victims of violence. The first installation was completed on December 17th, 2009, coinciding with the International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers.

    About the Artist: Sarah Jenny is a New York-based multimedia and mixed media artist and masters candidate at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Interactive Telecommunications Program. For more information about the artist and project, please visit

    Project Construction


  2. ICM and PComp Final Project in Progress

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    Memorial for Catherine

    This piece is in progress. It is an interactive installation which will also have an audio recording (narrative) triggered by the same sensor that triggers the lights. The first person narrative will reveal the life and death of Catherine, a sex worker murdered in 2003.

    This series will be an ongoing memorial for sex workers who have been victims of violence.

    The first draft will be completed on December 17th, 2009 to coincide with the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

  3. Final Project Progress


    I have made some progress on my final project. I was able to get three feet of LEDs (300 LEDs per 5 meter, if I understand correctly.) They are pretty bright white, stark even. I will be able to make a cut at any two inch point and rewire and solder to power and ground. The LED strips were pretty expensive at almost $20/foot. I purchased three feet. They had denser variations (600 LEDs +) but they were far more expensive and didn’t seem necessary to accomplish lighting a small box. Canal Lighting was my source and they were stellar but expensive.

    I also went to Canal Plastic and purchased several sheets of 12″x12″ plastic in various forms. I purchased 2″x2″ samples first because they were only a dollar a piece. I purchased a two-way mirror at the suggestion of Chika, translucent white, and frosted clear plastics. I drew out my construction plans and dimensions based on the cost of the plastics since I wasn’t committed to my initial dimensions. Even with my adjustments to accommodate for costs, each box is going to cost about $200 to construct. Therefore, I will only be creating one box for this final.

    I tested out an old blender marker which I am pretty sure still contains Xylene since I feel slightly stoned from inhaling the sweet fragrance. I also found an old carbon print from my Div III at Hampshire to test the marker with. Carbon prints and the sent of blender markers in the middle of the night give me tremendous nostalgia for my Div III (thesis). In any case, I tested the chemical on all three plastics. I was disappointed to find out that the mirror coating renders the blender marker ineffective in adhering inks to the surface of the plastic. It worked fairly well on the translucent white but seemed most effective on the frosted clear plastic which I accredit to the small ridges and dips in the surface. It gives the ink a place to sink in, so to speak.

    So my new plan is to buy another sheet of the frosted plastic and chemically transfer the image there. and then adhere it behind the two way mirror. I tested it on the 2″x2″ pieces and it was visible but it will be hard to say how it will pan out with the LEDs. I have a lot of testing left to do in the next two week, not to mention both Arduino and Processing programming and the physical construction of the box.

    I’ve had a difficult time finding a cohesive narrative for the story so I am playing around with more abstract imagery and reading a list of names of sex workers who died in the past year as the audio component. I could really use feedback on this change of plans, though.

    plastic testing

    LEDsWhite PlasticFrosted Plastic2 Way Mirror

  4. PComp and ICM Final Project Idea


    I am interested in combining my new found knowledge base in computational media (Processing) and physical computing (Arduino) to create an interactive art installation for December 17th, The International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers.

    My initial plan has been to gather the stories and photographs (high res) of the murder victims of Gary Ridgway (aka the Green River Killer).

    I am also interested collecting images and stories of other sex worker victims of violent crime for this project.

    I am also looking for footage from December 17th events, statistics, and red umbrella imagery and footage to work from. I put a call out to advocacy organizations, harm reduction social service providers in New York and beyond, and sex worker communities online to gather stories. So far the contributions have been intense and overwhelming. Each year we hold a memorial service for sex workers who were murdered because of their job: by clients, cops, partners, or the system (prison industrial complex).

    I envision images transferred onto plexiglass using xylene. The plexiglass surface would be part of larger light boxes. When a user approaches an image on the light box, an infrared proximity sensor or photo resistor would recognize the environmental change, causing the image to light up. I would also like to using Processing to then display video or audio to accompany each image. The impact should be immediate, visceral, and haunting.

    I will probably start with a small number of people to represent, maybe five, until I work out the technological end and then continue on. This idea is a work in progress and feedback is welcome.


  5. Serial Duplex using an Arduino

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    In this lab assignment, I used two sensors (photo resistor and potentiometer) and one switch (button) to control a “ball” in Processing. I had difficulty getting it to work at first, but Jason helped me re-map each sensor. The photo resistor was only going up to about 16 so we mapped it 0-16. The potentiometer went up to 1023 so I re-mapped it to 0-1023. The result was interesting as you can see in the video while I interact with the different sensors. The potentiometer controlled the “Y” access (up + down) in smooth, predictable motions as the pot is easy to control. The photo cell is much less predictable and you can see how interacting with it controlling the “X access (left and right) produced really erratic motions.

    Here is a photo my breadboard and Arduino setup:


  6. Stupid Pet Trick: LED Pasties

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    I decided to work on LED pasties for my Stupid Pet Trick. Thinking I could complete them in time for a performance, I figure it would be killing two birds with one stone. However, I got a bit ahead of myself. While the basic construction came together nicely, I didn’t have a chance to configure a 9v battery to replace the D/C adapter. Additionally, their is the problem is mounting the sensor, breadboard, and arduino on the body.

    Behold, my stupid petrick trick: LED Pasties. As a user approaches the individual wearing them, the infrared proximity sensor responds by lighting the LEDs in accordance with the proximity. The closer one gets, the brighter the LEDs get. Conversely, as one backs away from the wearer, the LEDs slowly dim out.

    LED PastiesLED Pasties (Off)LED Pasties (On)

    LED Pasties Breadboard and Arduino SetupLED Pasties Arduino DetailLED Pasties Breadboard Detail

  7. PComp Week 3 Electronics Lab

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    In this week’s lab, I was very confused. Luckily, Kody and I worked together on the floor with the multimeter and setting up circuits and so forth. Tragically, I also struggled with the Xacti cam. It was a rough week for me. You can watch all the awkwardness below and read our assignment here.

  8. Fantasy Device

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    Fantasy Device. Think of a fantasy device you’ve always wanted. Doesn’t have to be physically possible, but it has to have a physical interface. Design what the physical interface was. Document your design on your blog, and bring it in for the class. Your mock-up doesn’t have to work, and it can be made out of any materials you’re comfortable with. Make this a quick sketch, just enough so that your classmates have a sense of what they would do to use your device.

    The Antiquidator is a device that essentially brings Antique Road Show into your own home. You place the object on the sensor pad which also has a sensor above it, scanning the object, the weight, texture, and color to determine it’s age and provenance. You can record the information on a CD by inserting it into the CDdrive on the front or retrieve a print out on the top of the device.

    The switch on the front is the on and off button and the three yellow LEDs will flicker when the device is scanning. The potentiometer on the far right changes the magnification of the sensors which is convenient for particularly small or detailed objects.

  9. PComp Week 2 Lab

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    In Week 2 of Physical Computing, I learned how to use a potentiometer!


    In this lab, you’ll learn how to connect a variable resistor to a microcontroller and read it as an analog input. You’ll be able to read changing conditions from the physical world and convert them to changing variables in a program.