An Aspirational Memorial to Stop and Frisk

Bloomberg’s shamelessly racist policy of “Stop and Frisk”, will be ending soon in New York. Or so we hope. I propose an aspirational memorial to its passing (of the “good riddance” variety), in the form of an interactive installation where suspicious participants are subjected to a semi-invasive robotic/mechanical frisking. The working title of this project is “RoboCop”.

The suspicious participant approaches a wall with markings indicating where to put her hands and feet.

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When the suspect is in place, an audio track begins, explaining the procedure. The audio will be sourced from this recording of a police harassing a teenager during a stop.

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Mechanical hands will lift raise, wrap themselves around the suspect, and vigorously frisk the legs, butt and torso. The frisking will only intensify if the suspect attempts to remove herself from the designated position. concept3

Once the suspect has been thoroughly frisked and berated the arms will lower and she will be free to go. The system works!concept4

Getting yelled at and felt up by this robot is exactly as effective as the measures currently in place, but far more efficient.

Signs in Greenpoint

Here are some of my favorite signs in Greenpoint.

The message on this building is mysterious.

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There is a kind of stacking approach at work here: the statue of liberty on top of the twin towers. And a mixup of slogans: “united we stand” is followed by “united we run” and then “run for life” is paired with “life begins at 70”.IMG_0652

 

A sign about cloning on a Hearse.IMG_0323

I like the look of this restaurant awning.

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My  favorite, Princess Manor – a banquet hall with an aspirational name.IMG_0660

Sky Flower’s sign is fading and dripping away.IMG_0647_o

This is the best sign I’ve ever seen. It’s in San Francisco on Clement Street:

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I did a quick redesign of the sign – I wanted to see what would happen if it looked really clean but kept the wordplay. The original is clearly better.
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I love the look of “Steve’s Meat Market” but I thought I’d take a try at redesigning it anyway.
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Here are two ideas I came up with. The meat image comes from the Wikipedia Entry on meat.

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Here’s a horizontal version:
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Communist Manifesto illustrated with animated gifs

Here’s a little program that:

    1. splits up a text into individual words
    2. searches for an animated gif for each word
    3. displays the original text alongside the animated gifs

I’m using the giphy api to source the images, and the Communist Manifest as the text.

I broke the work up into two scripts: one that breaks apart the text, finds the images and then creates a csv file of the words associated with image urls. The second program reads the csv file and displays the images/text. I wanted to use animated gifs rather than static images. To get this working in processing used the gifAnimation library. The only problem with this library is that the images load one at a time, which blocks the sketch from running smoothly – so I implemented some threading to make the library load the gifs asynchronously.

My code is here on github: https://github.com/antiboredom/gif-to-text

UPDATE: html version here.

Memento Mori – mostly finished

Here’s some video documentation of my Memento Mori project. Pushing a button opens a box which then provides a highly specific fortune.

I’m using a standard servo screwed to the bottom right side of the box to open the lid (I had to upgrade from a micro servo which wasn’t powerful enough). Once the box opens a fortune prints out using a thermal printer.

My initial goal was to have hundreds if not thousands of fortunes, stored on an SD card. Unfortunately I had some difficulty in getting the card reader working with Arduino, so I resorted to using the flash memory of the microcontroller itself – a technique I learned here.

My other challenge was hooking up enough power to the system. I wanted to power everything with batteries, but was having trouble providing enough current for the thermal printer to output anything. I tried connecting some 9V batteries in parallel but it didn’t quite do the trick and also made the batteries dangerously hot. This is definitely an amateur issue… I ended up powering the printer with an adapter and the arduino with a 9V.

I sourced the fortunes from New York Times obituaries. I wrote a little script using NodeBox’s Linguistics library that alters texts by switching sentences from third to second person, and changes tense from past to future. I edited the results to produce the fortunes:

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The arduino code for the project is here on github: https://github.com/antiboredom/memento-mori-box

See something say something

I’m interested in contemporary propaganda, and how it succeeds (and sometimes fails) in using the basic principles of design.

For example, the MTA’s “See Something Say Something” campaign.

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In this instance of the campaign, the designers cleverly used the the stairs themselves as a grid.

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The negative space of the pieces shifts as the observer approaches and climbs the stairs.

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The color palette of yellow, black and red is simple and striking. The font here is Plak Black Condensed – high contrast and readable.

Security apparatuses across the nation have reproduced the slogan in their own designs, which I think speaks to the propagandist power of the original and the underlying paranoia that produced it. Here, for example, is the Department of Homeland Security’s version:

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It’s quite a reversal from this WWII era piece, which shows the dire consequences of “saying something”.

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Contrast these images with an FBI’s most wanted poster, and a smalltown anti-terrorist campaign.