Interactive Art

As a student, one thing I see all too often (in myself and those around me) is stress. Exams, projects, roommates, balancing social lives, and homesickness are all culprits, but to make matters worse, most student are still figuring out how to manage that stress enough to calm down and get through it.

As an RA in a dorm with freshmen, I see and help students dealing with stress every day. I hope this machine helps people manage stress in a low risk environment. My hope is that users of this project will learn to control their stress response and be able to channel that into other aspects of their life to improve their overall mental well-being.

I am creating a piece that forces users into a stressed state. It is based on the wire loop game children's toy, in which players need to get a loop from one ond of the wire to another without touching the loop to the wire. Except in this iteration, user's hands are locked to the toy and cannot be unlocked unless they get the loop to the finish line within the alotted time. The time is counting down directly in front of a user as they play. Everytime the user touches the loop to the machine, the time drops several seconds and the machine buzzes loudly. To make matters worse, the user is connected to aa hacked Mindflex toy acting as an EEG; if the user is especially calm time starts ticking slower, but if they are distressed it starts moving faster.

This machine induces stress, and then forces the user to figure out how to suppress it. Think of it as stress management training.

An early assignment in the course was to make an "Inside" piece, or a piece based on the internal state of your body. My piece is base don life itself, and the capabilities of the human body. Our eyes are only able to receive an image every 100ms or so. I leveraged this to create a piece that, when it senses a pulse, flickers back and forth between two halves of a single image representing life. However, when no pulse is detected, as is the case at the end of the video, only one image is shown and that vision of life is fractured.

I created a switch inspired by childhood. The switch is comprised of decorative yarn-wrapped popsicle sticks, like the kind I made in third grade. Between the popsicle sticks are two international coins (which I collected as a child). To activate the switch, you need to press on a thumbprint made from drying hot glue.