Archive for the ‘project ideas’ Category

Kibe Assado – Video Recipe

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Earlier today I finished editing a video recipe for kibe that I had been working on for the past two months. I took on this project because I wanted to share this delicious recipe that I have developed over the past several months. Thanks to everyone who has served as guinea pigs along the way. Without further delay here is the video along with a written version of the recipe.

Recipe serves: 6 normal people (3 crazy kibe lovers)

• 1 pound of ground beef
• ½ pound of bulgur
• 1 large onion
• 1 bunch of mint
• 2 teaspoons of salt
• 2 teaspoons of butter and olive oil
• A pinch of ground pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg

Prepare the Outer Mixture: start by soaking the bulgur in water for two to three hours. Clean the mint and separate the leaves from the stems. Prepare the onions by removing the outer skin. Chop the mint and onions using a food processor or knife. Mix the chopped mint and half of the onions together.

Combine half a pound of ground beef with the bulgur. Add chopped mint, onions, salt and spices to ground beef and bulgur mixture. Make sure to mix all the ingredients thoroughly. A food processor or meat grinder is ideal for this step.

Sautee the Filling: heat a pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, butter and remaining half of the chopped onion to the pan. Sautee the onion until it has become translucent. Add the remaining ground beef to the pan. After a few minutes add the pine nuts. Sautee the meat until the liquid that arises has evaporated. Then remove the beef from the stovetop.

Prepare the Pan: First coat the pan with non-stick cooking spray. Then add a layer of the beef and bulgur mixture to the bottom and sides of the pan. Next add a layer of the sautéed ground beef filling. Then top off the pan with the remaining beef and bulgur mixture. Use a spoon to pat down each layer to make sure they are properly packed.

Once the pan is prepared take a knife and cut diamond-shaped patterns into the top layer (you can actually cut any shape that you want). Then drizzle some olive oil on top. Now the pan is ready to go into the oven.

Bake the Kibe: preheat the oven to 375 degrees then bake for 40 minutes. Turn on the broiler and bake for 5 to 10 minutes to brown the top.

Kibe Crazy
Using this same basic recipe you can also create two other types of kibe dishes: Kibe Cru (raw kibe) and Kibe Frito (fried kibe). Kibe cru is essentially the bulgur and beef mixture described above, served raw and garnished with mint leaves and sliced onions. Kibe frito consists of the same elements as baked kibe. However, the bulgur and beef mixture is shaped into a ball that contains the sautéed beef filling. These kibe balls are then fried.

Other Motivations
A secondary motivation for this project was a desire to learn how to use Final Cut Pro. This consideration ultimately led to my selection of media. In a separate post I will cover the learnings I gained from this project, both in relation to working with video in general and with Final Cut specifically.

Sao Paulo Street Art Experience

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

Following up to my post a few weeks back regarding the Sao Paulo Street Art installation, I have come across an interesting video on Vimeo about Brazilian graffiti art. This great little video provides an overview of the history of this artform in general, along with an interesting investigation regarding why graffiti in Brasil has an unique vibrancy, and how this art is changing as it is increasingly accepted in the art and media worlds.

As part of my project idea, I would like to develop a similar short documentary but with a slightly different focus. Specifically I would like to investigate further the influences and motivations that generated the specific flavor and style that is unique to Brazilian street art. What are the cultural, geographical, physical, social, and other factors that are at play here.

Next week I plan to discuss this project with several more people here in Sao Paulo. Hopefully I will be able to generate some interest and identify some leads that will help me transform this idea into a reality.

Sao Paulo Street Art Experience

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

I have been a fan of graffiti for a long time. Since the 80’s I’ve been interested in urban culture with a special passion for graffiti. I am in no way an expert in this realm but I have enjoyed taking friends and family on graffiti hunting excursions in every major city that I visit.

I have long taken pride in opening my friends’ eyes to the art that can be found on grimy street corners and dilapidated buildings (not to mention the sewer, though I’ve never toured one of those). Sao Paulo is one of my favorite cities for street art, its graffiti is brimming with colorful excitement and wonderful storylines.

Concept: To share my experience of standing on the streets of Sao Paulo in front long expanses of wall covered with graffiti, I would like to create an outdoor installation in New York that features the sights and sounds of Sao Paulo.

Mechanism: I have not finalized the vision for this project so here is an overview of its initial form and processes.

The source material for the exhibition would be created during my trip to Sao Paulo from late December through mid January. Assets will include pictures that can be stitched together to create continuous renditions of bombed walls, sounds from each location will be recorded to capture the happenings and mood of each locale, and videos of interviews with local residents and artists.

The interviews with residents would focus on their perspective on this art form. The interviews with artists would also encompass an exploration of their inspirations from the streets and other media such as music, video, art, design, etc.

All of these assets would be used to synthesize two separate experiences. The installation would be designed to re-create immersive life-sized experiences of the graffiti. There would be two to four separate locations that could be set in the same space or spread throughout the city. For maximum effect the audience will be surrounded on two sides by video screens projecting specific locations in Sao Paulo.

Each location would feature art and sounds from specific neighborhoods coupled with Brazilian artifacts and delicacies such as street foods, beverages, signage, and even garbage. I would also like to explore enabling the audience to interact with the photos by casting shadows, or by touching the panels to leave imprints and their own “graffiti” on the pictures.

The online experience would feature all of the pictures and sounds from the installation. They would also be able to view the new “graffiti” added to the panels by gallery visitors. Videos that feature the interviews and other behind the scenes content would also be featured online, uploaded through YouTube or another similar service (, vimeo, etc).

A short list of ideal locations for this installation idea in New York include: roofdeck of the New Design High School, the lobby of the AIC Center (unlikely unless I take the big screens class), Bar 89, Rooftop Films (summer only).

Why Sao Paulo? I have to come clean and admit what most of you all already know: I am biased towards this city because I am originally from Sao Paulo and my family still lives there. It is also interesting to note that graffiti culture has thrived in Sao Paulo for a long time. Recently graffiti outnumbers outdoor advertisements in this city, since outdoor ads were banned a few years back (within city limits).

Next Steps: To create the my full vision will take several months of planning, however, I would like to do a mini trial run during my trip to Sao Paulo in December. Here is what I got take care of before I take off: enroll my cousin to join me on this project, contact the Choque Cultural gallery in SP to make initial contact, map out neighborhoods to scout for project.

LED Sensor Matrix

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Concept: Create an LED matrix that uses LEDs for light generation and touch sensing (light sensing actually). This is not a new concept. It is specifically inspired by this tool,which I recently found online.

Mechanisms: LEDs can be used as photodiodes. In other words, they can be used to sense as well as create light. Therefore, it is possible to create an LED-based device that can sense touch indirectly via changes in light (as shown in the example above). It is important to note that LEDs are not as sensitive as photodiodes, and are also less responsive. The sensitivity of LEDs to light varies by the LED color – red is the most sensitive one, blue is the least sensitive one.

The best code sample that I was able to find on this topic was from one of Mike Cook’s Arduino tutorials. Here is a link to this article. The trick to using an LED like a photodiode is to reverse the flow of electricity through the LED. The LED does not allow electricity to flow through it in this direction. That said, it is able to store some of the energy from this current. Then when this current is shut off the energy that was conserved is released into the circuit. The voltage that an LED can store is impacted by the amount of light that hits it.

Earlier today I tested three LEDs as light sensors. I tried using several code samples that I found on the web. However, the only one that worked for me is the one from Mike Cook that I mentioned above. Here is a brief overview of how the circuit and code works, check out Mike’s site for the code itself:

Attach the anode pin of your LEDs to digital pins on your Arduino, attach cathode pin of your LEDs to the analog pins on your Arduino (which are also digital pins 14 through 19). Set the anode pin mode to input and the cathode pin mode to output. Then set the anode pin to low and the cathode pin to high, in order to charge up the LED. Next, change the cathode pin mode to input and take an analog reading, this will be our baseline. After 20 – 40 milliseconds take a second reading, which will give us our final values. Last, switch the cathode mode back to output and set it to low.

Here are some important things to consider when working on a prototype for this device (collected from my readings around the web on this topic):

  • Small LEDs are better because they can hold less electricity and discharge faster
  • Clear LEDs work better because the light is not filtered through colored plastic
  • LEDs can only sense lights from spectrums that have shorter wavelengths

Monome-Inspired Modular Open Source Controllers

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

As if I haven’t posted enough related to the Monome recently, here is another entry inspired by this awesome little device. My recent fascination with the Monome has led me to wonder why are there no other controllers that share the same open source mindset to creating music coupled with a social and environmental conscious and minimalist esthetic. So here is an idea to fill this void:

Concept: Create modular open source control devices inspired by the Monome. These open source control modules would provide artists with new surfaces and possibilities to interface with their projects. All of the modules would feature minimalistic design, inspired by the Monome, and they would be produced in a socially and environmentally conscious manner.

Mechanics: All modules would work together and share consistent architecture. This architecture would encompass the communication protocol (which would likely be OSC), the chip and firmware selection, and the physical design esthetic and feel. As mentioned above, the hardware and software design would be open-source so that users can contribute new software and hardware hacks and improvements.

At the moment, I envision creating a line featuring several modules for this series: a rotary pot module would featuring 36 (6×6); a sliding pot module would feature 8 (8×1) pots; a force sensitive button module would feature 25 (5×5) buttons; a touchscreen module would feature a 10×10 inch touch surface.

One of my favorite elements of the Monome is that it can be used as a monochrome low-resolution display. Therefore, each module would feature similar display capabilities. In order to achieve this feat we would have to design our own rotary and sliding pots, force sensitive buttons, and touch displays.

Here is an example of an illuminated sliding pot from curious inventor. Unfortunately, these sliders are prohibitively expensive as they cost several hundreds of dollars each. A similar pot could be constructed using a softPot membrane potentiometer coupled with an LED lighting solution that I have not yet found.

Monome Build

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

This weekend my monome fever continued as I worked on putting together the monome kit that I recently purchased (link to previous post about monome madness). I spent over six hours soldering numerous components as dictated by the instructions from the monome website. I am happy to report that I made good progress, though I encountered issues when trying to set up the ribbon cable.

All-in-all I soldered 64 miniscule diodes and small LEDs, and several hundred other pins from chips, resistors, and capacitors. This was by far the most soldering I have ever done. I have to admit the experience was somewhat zen like. I have definitely taken my soldering skills to a whole new level. Here are some pictures from the build.

For the most part I did not encounter any issues, aside from the ribbon cable problem mentioned above. The problem is that I broke two connectors in my failed attempts to connect the ribbon cable. Therefore, I need to find two new connectors, and learn how to use them, in order to get my monome to work. I was silly to think that this would be the easiest part of the build process.

In preparation for this project I purchased a soldering machine from Radio Shack. I am really happy with my decision to get this iron – the standard tip was ideal for the type of work I was carrying out, it has a nice fine point. Since it is manufactured by Madell I can easily purchase new tips online.

More updates to come later this week and early next week, after I am able to get some new ribbon cable.

Energy Games

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Concept: to create games that raise student’s awareness regarding energy usage and provide positive reinforcement for energy conservation practices. it different NYU dorms against one another in a competition where the winning dorm receives special privileges and awards.

Mechanics: Create a database with real time and over time energy consumption that enables students at different dorms to compare their energy usage per square feet. Develop several applications to visualize this data in actionable ways.

Develop visualizations that feature energy usage information and a scoreboard in easy to understand info-graphics. Display this information in common areas of the dorms and make it available on the internet. Provide students with access to tips and resources that enable them to learn how to reduce their energy usage, on a personal and community level.

Use outdoor projections on participating dorms to showcase the standing of each dorm at the end of each phase of the competition. Create events to engage students in a discussion about energy usage.

Credit: This idea was inspired by Josh Clayton’s final project in our Introduction to Computational Media class. The picture is licensed under Creative Commons and was taken by adrileb from flickr.

Monome Madness

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

For a long time I have wanted a Monome (check out the Wikipedia entry here). Initially, my desire to own one of these devices was based on the functionality it provides and its minimalist look, which oozes cool. I was thrilled at the beginning of this semester when Paul Rothman, one of my colleagues at ITP, took the lead on organizing a group of students to build Monomes.

The initial excitement continued to increase during the past several weeks. It reached a highpoint this week with the recent arrival of the components and the gradual arrival of these devices on the floor. I can’t wait for my build session that is scheduled for Saturday. I will assemble a “40h” unit that is similar to the one described here, though it will feature a different case.

The other factor that has greatly heightened my anticipation for the build was tonight’s visit from the Monome creator, Brian Crabtree. Brian’s partner in crime, Kelli Cain, was not able to join this session. Here is a short video from Brian’s visit. I’ve captured part of his talk along with two short demos of the Monome in action.

Learning about the motivation and creative process associated to the design of the device and the production process was inspiring. The product and process are both manifestations of the value and belief systems held by Brian and his partner Kelli Cain. First and foremost, this product was born out of the desire to provide new possibilities for creativity through freedom. That is why it is an open source platform that has no pre-defined functionality.

The designs and prototypes, and later the machinery required to manufacture these devices, were developed with no help from corporate organizations. Equally important, local production partners are used to manufacture the Monome, and selection of these partners has been guided by a socially and environmentally conscious philosophy.

In my opinion Brian and Kelly are true artists. They have brought (and continue to bring) into the world amazing new possibilities on many different dimensions – the product, the process, the freedom, and the passion. That’s enough praise since I know I am starting to sound cheesy (as if I that was not the case already). I’ll just reiterate once again – I am officially inspired. I know that many of my future projects will include this little box as a key interface element.

Project Idea: Virtual Possibility Cards

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Project Goal: To help people tune in to new possibilities and perspectives that are available to them in an engaging manner. My inspiration stems from a desire to help people think laterally and explore new points of view. The concept itself is loosely based on angel and goddess guidance cards (tarot cards as well).

The Concept: The user interface for this project would be based on a physical deck of cards. The participant would take a card from a deck and place the card on a table that is styled like the table of a tarot card reader. A video camera above the table would capture a 2D barcode that is printed on the card.
In response, a computer display (ideally stylized to match the overall theme of this application) would show a card that features some wise guidance and new perspective for the participant to explore. The participant would also be able to print out his/her card to take home for further reflection.
Important Considerations: In order to make this experience as engaging as possible there needs to be a connection (or at least a perceived connection) between the physical interaction and the resulting guidance. I am randomly linking the physical and virtual cards, or using some types of sensors to determine how to map the 2D barcodes to the virtual card content. This is an area that will need to be explored further if I decide to pursue this project.
This idea could be embellished into a more immersive experience by exploring different possibilities for displaying content, including projected video and the use of sound. Lighting could also be used to enhance the experience. For example, changing the lighting of the room while the card is being read could give the sense that spirits are guiding the transformation. Management of people flow is another way to add gravitas to this experience. These embellishments assume that I take the project in a more tarot-like direction.
The last point I have to make is about the importance of the content itself to making this project a success. The content would need to offer sufficient breadth and quality to keep the audience engaged in this interaction.