BEHIND THE SCENES OF MICA VIBE
MICA Vibe was an extensive, collaborative project commissioned by Maryland Institute College of Art administration team. MICA Interactive Spaces students collaborated with MICA Graphic Design graduate students, Karlssonwilker, and Adobe to create 75,000 data-driven generative book covers.
Interactive Spaces students and faculty worked together for a semester to create responsive data collecting installations all around campus.
Initially, there was very bare-bones guidance in how MICA Vibe was supposed to be executed. All we knew as a group was that there had to be a campus-wide data collecting installations and that the collected data will eventually create 75,000 book covers. MICA Vibe was intended for the mass audience, therefore we had to plan out the concept and ideas very meticulously.
Spending a considerable amount of the time we have together, through Design Hackathons, cardboard prototypes, and meeting with Karlssonwilker, we fleshed out our ideas.
The first name of this project was MICA Live, and because the movement and the energy of the MICA student body were so crucial to this project, we decided to call this project MICA Pulse. For installations, Motion, Sound, and Mood stations were selected among the different ideas and pitches made by the students.
To clarify that each installation, aka stations, are all designed for one project, we decided to give a sense of coherence to each hardware. Each hardware consisted of plexiglass and lights with Adafruit DotStar LEDs.
The Hardware team which included Miri Kim, Cheng Qin, and Heerim Shin, worked tirelessly for a semester fabricating the physical structure of each station. Cheng Qin managed all of the CNC plexiglass cutting, and the structural design of each station. Soldering and wiring of the structures were completed by Heerim Shin, Miri Kim, and Laurain Park.
Mood Station was one of the first stations to be brought up during the idea meetings by Miri Kim. While other stations had shown changes throughout the execution and needed more fleshing out, Mood Station's initial idea was very complete. Considering that the target audience will primarily be art students, instead of asking the students "how they are feeling", we changed the question to "what color are you feeling?"
By using hand-painted arcade buttons, the viewers were able to pick their color, and in the end, have a takeaway object. The object was a receipt leading to the MICAVIBE.COM website, and rather than using a microcontroller to generate new QR codes every time, we simply reproduced an image of a QR code to reduce mistakes.
The majority of the microcontroller coding and wiring was completed by a member of the Software team, Gary Zhang.
Sound Station was initially designed for a low-fi telephone booth on the MICA campus. By taking sound data from their surroundings, 2 Sound Stations would be able to speak with each other in different parts of campus. To make the design simpler, we decided to make a simpler sound graph instead of an actual phone booth.
Inside the sound station, there was a built-in shelf designed to hold up the microphone to capture the sound data of its surroundings more efficiently. To deliver the light throughout the physical structure, I [Laurain] soldered around the top shelf tightly and dropped down a long strand of Adafruit Dotstar LEDs. To make the LED strip to connect more solidly, instead of making the LED strip by cutting and gluing them together, I simply folded the long string in half, dropped it down in the middle hold of the microphone shelf, and stabilized its movement with radio wires.
Motion Station was proposed as an interactive mirror, and because we did not want to incorporate monitors and screens, we created a big scale LED mirror. By capturing the movement data from the camera, the Motion Station then reflected a correlating image. The LED colors changed according to how recent the motions took place.
The board was initially brought in to mount the LED strips, and it was challenging to support the soldered LED strips throughout this project. Later, the plexiglass screen was bolted on and sanded down to blur the wiring of the Motion Station, so that the viewers can focus more on the responding lights.