Brief idea about the final project

I have been discovering the narrative of shadow art in this project, since Zoopraxiscope to ZoOHPraxiscope, shadow puppet and other device for narrating a story (or an idea) by using shadow art.

I found there were some artists using shadow art as an installation to present their thoughts, here are some examples.

These artworks inspire me to design an installation that combines with some objects (could be made by unexpected components —like rubbish, cans) and be projected by a light source, finally, it shows a shadow on the wall.

The theme I intended to make is about “cyber bullying”, the internet is developing day and day, but as a shadow/dark side, lots of people suffer from the bad influence of the Internet, like cyber bullying. So I aim to make object, and use the light of bulbs or projector to project shadows about bad influences of cyber bullying (like the figure below, but it just an example) on a wall.

HSS8121: The Late Show & The general reflection

The proposal of our idea (

The development of our idea/ the process of decorating ( )

Preparatory Work

The late show officially started on Friday night. We went to Star & Shadow cinema early in the morning to prepare and test our booth. Initially, we wanted to install our booth in the smoking area because we wanted to create a private place in a semi-public space that would bring about a discussion about the connection between public spaces and the realm of privacy (see specific on HSS8121: Public Making proposal). However, when we prepared to install it, we found many temporary problems. The first one is that the effect of sunlight and wind and the deflection of the projector due to the limited space made the overall effect of the booth become difficult to see. Therefore, to remedy the situation, we switched the place and put the booth in cafe area then move the console (for Adam control audio and for the projector) to the smoking area. To a certain extent, this also solves the smoking area is prone to catch hidden dangers.

Figure 1: The console in smoking area (Credit: Elaine)
Figure 2: Changing the booth from smoking area to cafe area (Credit: Elaine)

The second question is about the projection of the name of the work, on HSS8182: Public Making The development of our idea we decided to project the shadow of the word on the curtain instead of painting it on the curtain, however, the area where the booth can be hung and the projector are not horizontal, so it is difficult to project the shadows in the correct position. In order to solve it, our solution was to stick labels and words on a piece of glass next to booth. In the late show, this turned out to be a minor flaw, as people often walked around, only a few people noticed the label and the name of this installation.

Figure 3: The name and the label (Credit: Elaine)

The overall effect of the booth is like a floating ghost, but since there is no wind inside, it is easy to control. We have two speakers, one in the coffee area and one in the smoking area. Then, finally, we tested the effect of the projection after the entire booth was installed, the projection was not very clear under strong light, but at night, when the light was dim, the effect on the curtain was very good.

During the Late Show

In the Late Show, we initially found that some people were curious about our booth because of sounds have been processed and it is is surprisingly highly effective, but they just stopped to watch/discuss it instead of going in and seeing what was inside. And as mentioned above, very few people notice the introduction on the glass, so they don’t know exactly how to interact with it. Thus, we had to pretend to be tourists and go in first to encourage more people to go in.

The change of situation came from an accident. During the Late Show, our curtain fell down, in this way, the shadow originally projected on the curtain is projected onto the wall, and the microphone is exposed. When we tried to remedy the situation, we found that this effect seemed to stimulate the interest of audience, there are many people who understand the meaning of this work directly after they see the microphone. They don’t hesitate to think about whether to enter booth as before, but touch the microphone or speak/sing to it straightway. So instead of fixing it, we kept booth ‘open’.

Apart from the issues of engagement and labeling, I found several things during the exhibition.The first is the height of the microphone. In fact, our microphone is designed to accommodate all preparations. Even for children, the radio system can process their voices even if they are far away from the microphone, but people still try to adjust the microphone to their height , so the things is, while we designing an installation, do we need a more human approach, like making the microphone adjustable in order to let audience feel more flexibility.

The other thing is the shadow. The webcam could track people when they pass in front of it, and the projector will reflect people’s shadow instantaneously. But during the Late Show, I found only three people realized that, so if it (or any part of a project) is meaningful, do we need to inform the audience? Or it is better to hide the clues and wait for audience to find out?

The video about our project
Figure 9: People who are singing (Credit: Elaine)

The thinking about our project

This project inspired me to think about the relationship between public and the private. It originally comes from the name of this course, public making. Is it made in the public or making for the public? I started this project with that question in mind, but when we got the feedback, what was the line between the public place and the private place? In the proposal we thought about that we intend to create a private space in public space, in this area, people may feel more comfortable, they may abandon the pressures they feel in an open environment. Conversely, a private space stops the audience in its tracks. Instead, as the boundaries between openness and privacy are broken, more people are getting involved. Since the twentieth century, artists have begun to break the separate status of art and the public, so, are we violating the development of public art by trying to establish privacy in public places?

Moreover, it stimulated me to think differently, when we think we’re on one side of things, is that really the case? As for this project, we still need to get feedback and explore how the public views art with real results, rather than from the perspective of the artist/creator. In the field of public art, we (artist/creator) are the ones who build the connection between art and the public. How to guide/inspire them to become an indispensable aspect.

HSS8121: From art in the public: Art, Architecture, Urban Media (Lecture & Seminar IV)

In the third class of Public Making on February 26, we have talked about art in the public and hybrid spaces. Including the chosen of specific cite and digital public art from early stages to networked public space, which explore the social meaning, playfulness and visibility of through various art forms. On one hand, this topic reminded me some artwork that changing the use value of space about early urban design. Based on local architecture, artists project their viewpoints on art or reflections on social phenomena onto their works. On the other hand, urban media and visible digital art in public area promoted me to associate with some science fiction movie (like Blade Runner), through science and technology, the images about the interactivity and the visibility of media cities have been presented, or the media cities images are presented, although the visual effects of these movie may be exaggerated, it still inspire some artists.

Early stages: Urban Design and Urban Arts

Some artists might choose to express their creative ideas of urban landscape with the existing buildings in the city. For example, there is a famous artist and architect named Gordon Matta-Clark, the ambitious goal and scale of his projects was that he unflinchingly recreated urban landscapes, challenged the notion of urbanizes and prompted them to revisit the concept of architectural structure. In 1974, he did his most famous project, which is “Splitting” in NY, in this work, he sawed out a gaping vertical segment from the middle of an abandoned house, to some extent, this project reflected the fact that during that time (the period of depression), many middle-class people have moved to the suburbs, thus, there are a lot of abandoned houses in NY.
Space is the field where human are allowed to interact and intermingle with spirit and ideology, through Matta-Clark’s projects, we are able to discover that he always focus on human experience and expanding the limitation of space. ‘Nobody could construct buildings the way Gordon destructed them‘, Alliez and Mackay admitted that the project Conical Intersect breaks down what people already know about a particular site. Moreover, these projects adhere to the local community, inseparable from the public works location, but it is also an artistic innovation to define the use value of space in a new way.


There are some other urban design and urban sculptures aim on presenting the thought of artists (for current social situation, for unique understanding of art, some of them might related to the emergence of political public art).

Digital Public Art

In the 21st century, the development of science and media encourage the flourishing digital public art, lots of artists tend to use digital platform to represent their artistic conceptions about the relationship between public art and the public (both of people and hybrid space). The project McLarena (2014) that inspired by the film Canon (1964), inviting passers-by to collectively reproduce the choreography from the original film then project the film on an adjacent building. Colangelo (2015) stated that McLarena shows us that what we now expect from public art and public space is rapidly changing, people start to expect a conversation between ourselves and public art, rather than looking at it from an outsider’s viewpoint. It is no doubt that technology and digitization provide the public an opportunity/platform that we can click on, swipe, share, capture, and converse with and about. Through a visible way, many artworks like this attract people pay more attention in digital public art vividly.

In order to encourage more people be a part of digital art, lots of artists offer a convenient way to allow people get access to their projects in daily life. For example, RAW that designed by Prismatica turns downtown Montreal into an interactive kaleidoscope, these installations are built on the streets, and it is easy for people to find and enjoy it, then forget cold weather in Canada. On one hand, the project show innovation of using light and sound, on the other hand, the project was made for public, instead of for the artist himself. It does attract me because Prismatica use particular cite to design his artwork with humanistic spirit. He has considered about what this place could be more useful to people, how to make it more interesting. To be concluded with all of public art I have known, the most fascinating thing is that artists not only selfishly imposing an artistic point of their view on the public, they try to blend in and make the public understand the deep meaning of art.

Negative of digital art

However, we still need to think about the negative effect of digital art, in the student-lead-seminar, Clavin talked about the Technological and Political Challenges, even Social Issues and Secure Issues. Can we protect our privacy from intrusion? Can people control technology completely?And have these digital arts really changed our lives? Thus, how does artists balance this relationship has became a question worth pondering.

HSS8121: Public Making Notes: Public making and the practice of artistic production part B (Lecture & Seminar III)

Last part I have mentioned about the importance of making the practice of artistic production visible during the process of public making, which could be an important approach for providing the deep meaning of objects to the public. This part will demonstrate some examples of artists visioning their artistic project through public making and my viewpoint about how successful do I think public making.

Andrea Phillips (2011) pointed out that “WochenKlausur (an artist group which intend to develop concrete proposals aimed at small, but effective improvements to socio-political deficiencies through artistic creativity) sees art as an opportunity for achieving long-term improvements in human coexistence. Artists’ competence in finding creative solutions, traditionally utilized in shaping materials, can just as well be applied in all areas of society: in ecology, education, and city planning. There are problems everywhere that cannot be solved using conventional approaches and are thus suitable subjects for artistic projects. ”

As I mentioned before, public making (whether it is organized by artists or cultural institutions) based on various practice aim on conveying a deeper connotation that might related to historical significance, aesthetic value or even introspection of civilized society. During 2005 to 2006, Elmgreen and Dragset designed a series of projects named Re-g(u)arding the Guards, Modern Moses and Interstage, these works invited to the public to view installations about the prison, the hospital and the unemployment office, in order to present the reflection of the relations between histories of welfare and their relations to powerful structures of subjectification and control. It provide the audience to think of how do the public face to the powerlessness of the citizen, to some extent, these kind of works that have political metaphors is ironic.

Another example is from Francis Alÿs, in 2000, Francis visited Lima, Peru. At that time, he said that Lima was in turmoil with clashes on the streets, obvious social tension and an emerging movement of resistance. Thus, for responding the desperate situation, Francis decided to make a public project. The work When Faith Moves Mountains invited 500 volunteers with shovels gathered at a huge sand dune on the outskirts of Lima, Peru, and over the course of a day moved it by several inches, the core of this project is “maximum effort, minimal result”, although no one could recognized the sand done has been moved in the second day, the movement itself is extraordinary and meaningful. Through this social art exercise, it demonstrate a collective belief, moreover, this spirit will inspire more people by word of mouth and video recording.

The French artist JR started a project named “Inside Out” in 2011, since he thought about “Art has the power to change the way we view the world”. Thus, JR began to collect pictures of people from all over the world (both online and in real life), and print their photos into huge posters, then post them on buildings, pumps, shipping containers, trains, metro stations, and other public space in our daily life. This project is a global art project for transforming messages of personal identity into works of art. It’s not limited by the identity, race, age or social class of people. Based on the platform photography that bring us together and reflect our humanity on a grand scale, his work give everyone a moment of dignity, and reaching people’s inner humanity allowing them to realize that “WE ARE PEOPLE TOO!”

I think part of public making makes artistic production more successful is that it’s about the public (human), it allows them to understand the process of art, and it provides them a chance to experience it, rather than see objects with their eyes in exhibition hall. On the one hand, it made them more impressed because of they felt them, and a part of the project has became their story.

HSS8121: Public Making Notes: Public making and the practice of artistic production part A (Lecture & Seminar II)

For the last seminar of Public Making, I am going to answer a question, which discuss the effect of public making. More specifically, it will present the following questions in this part

a. the positive influence (success) and the negative aspect (disadvantage) of public making in working with museum collection. how do the public and artists consider about the process of public making

Taking museum collection as example, I did some research about how do museums encourage public to take part in public making. Museum have educational function, nowadays, the majority of museum intend to open their collection to the public in order to attract public’s interest and promote them to realize the importance of these collections. There are some examples about events in museums that provide historical and artistic collection to the public, owing to different audience segmentation, museums launched a series of events to stimulate various interest on diverse aspect. Moreover, it has been pointed that museums aims on finding innovative ways to bring collections and audiences together (Murphy, 2016), through these innovative approach, public are allowed to get closer to these objects rather than just see them in showcase.

Many people might know the fact that museum collections are significant, because of these objects are exhibited and protected by cultural relics institutions (apart from that, audience will not pay attention to each objects, thus, the historical or artistic value of some objects might be neglected sometimes) , however, less of them understand its heritage and the relevance of local history to the contemporary life of a place (Bowers & Shaw, 2015). Thus, I though both the artists and the museums are launching all kinds of cultural public making events mainly focus on transferring information about the deep meaning of objects to public. Comparing with exhibiting them by displaying, using another improved reformatory are able to get access to objects by themselves. Public making (no matter “making-in-public” or “working-with-the-public”) offer public a chance to explore aesthetics and historical connotation through the process. Meanwhile, innovative method also
endow more pleasure to the process, which demonstrate the diversities of  objects.

Nevertheless, there are some elements need to be considered before it

▪The budget ▪What if public do not like this method ▪How to protect these collection ▪How to build the relationship between the public and the story

On next part, I will focus on how do public making make artistic production visible for excavating deep meaning.

HSS8121: Public Making notes: Public and power (Lecture & Seminar I)

For the course Public Making, we have discussed the significance of ‘PUBLIC’ in terms of the meaning of it in literary, social and political aspect at the first time. As far as I am concerned, the core content of the word ‘Public Making’ could only be related to “who’s making what for public” or “public could making what together” before I have attended this class. Honestly, I have never considered about the deep meaning about ‘Public Making’ in social, cultural and humanistic aspect, or, what if it could affect aesthetics in artistic way.

In anthropomorphism, the capacity of “public” has been mentioned as an important tool to understand non-human communication. An obvious example is worm, this kind of group-living animal represent human sociality to some extent. Specifically, in response to emergencies, the gradual shift from solitary living to group living is a consequence of a non-human habit, like worms will gather together in order to avoid dangers. Scientists have argue that Earthworms form herds and make “group decisions”. The earthworms use touch to communicate and influence each other’s behavior, according to research published in the journal Ethology. By doing so the worms collectively decide to travel in the same direction as part of a single herd (Walker, 2010).

As for human, the capacity of public, it has been divided as two main categories, EGO signifies that human occupied the apex, the other biology all in different hierarchy, on the other hand, ECO represents an environment, which could include every species in a whole society. Foucault pointed out difference of power and hierarchy in schools and prisons through that school and prison are considered as microcosm of a small society. That doctrine is quite similar to EGO theory, so I have started to think about does hierarchy still exist in every aspects for public?

From slave societies to feudal societies to the Renaissance of modern civilization, power was not distributed equally among all people, for the most of public, they are constrained by power. However, since ancient Greece and Rome, the earliest institutional democracy appeared in history, some citizens have the right to participate in the construction of society.
But do their regulations really cover all the needs of the public? And does it will continue and develop in the future?

With the development of society, the civil rights system in western countries gradually improved, for example, An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown which published in 1689 established the principle of the supremacy of parliament and recognized the inalienable civil and political rights of the British people. Later, United States Declaration of Independence (1776)and Déclaration des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen (1789) laid the foundation for the people to fight for their rights and interests. Through more historical changes, the public of today’s society can enjoy more power socially.

Nevertheless, if only relying on the equal rights of the public, what will the order of the contemporary become? How to reconcile the emphasis on the freedom of the public with the jurisdiction of hierarchical power? It has became a worth ruminating problem.

HSS8182: Public Making The development of our idea

Before the second time we went to S&S cinema, Adam and Clavin discussed some practical issues about how to achieve our hypothesis, and how to present the core concept more pertinently. To be concluded, there are following aspects have been mentioned about.

  1. The design of installation (including in the material that we are going to use, operating procedure, how to combine the sound effect and visual effect).
  2. How to deal with the interaction between installation and audience (more detailed, since lead people understand how to interact with the installation, we need to consider about presenting the connotation of our project, and encourage people share their stories (but let them know that we do not intend to peep into their privacy).
  3. The place that we need to use for our project in S&S cinema. Owing to S&S cinema is a public space for cultural events, we can occupy limited space in there. Moreover, probably there will be a crash between the space we use and others, we should think about the application of architecture in the building.

Record booth

Thus, for the first element, we found some material might replace wood, paperboard or plastic, which are considered as main material for making an installing box. Adam has mentioned about the history of those recording studio booths in the UK and the USA, these record booth was booming in the last century. Here is an example

As the link shows, people are allowed to stay in the booth and use these equipments to record their sound. Due to it is more private, many people have been attracted, although the space is limited, people could still share the space with friends. Like karaoke booth in China, this form (a covert space for people to present theirselves) has became more and more popular. In this box, we decide to handle a microphone to record people’s voice.


Combined with the inspiration, we intend to create a installation like record booth. But unlike the hermetic booth, we prefer to choose gauze, curtain or other hazy elements to show an indistinct environment and promote audience to feel it by themselves. Moreover, with shadow of projector, visual effect might bring different thoughts to people. Calvin pointed out a traditional Chinese art named Shadow Puppetry, it is defined as a way which uses flat articulated cut-out figures (shadow puppets) which are held between a source of light and a translucent screen or scrim. As the first observation in S&S, we notice that lighting in the place where we planed to go to use (smoking area and the cafe venue) is too poor, but lighting are affected by sunlight as well, consider about the exhibition will be launched on a May evening, probably it is possible to use natural light.


Secondly, because we need to show diverse questions in the box and encourage people to share their stories, our crew went to S&S cinema and tried to find a specific topic. What will public interest in? What will let them to be free to talk about while we are providing decided question, rather than refuse to answer according to protect their privacy. We have to consider about what if some questions will offend them, and try to avoid this situation.

At the beginning, we tried to find out a topic through the small library at S&S. So we did an observation about which kind of book is most popular in S&S, or what ubiquitous topic will people mentioned about in the cinema. Unfortunately, when we came to S&S on Wednesday, there were not many people read book at library area. Thus, we deferred the solution of the problem about our topic, and started to think about the hardware of our installation. After a discussion, we divided our project as two box.

  • A non-verbal box

Taking many factors into consideration, we thought that not all of people are willing to show themselves by language. If audience are too shy to share their story, how could they present their emotion? Besides, language is not the only way to connect with each other. More aesthetic, melody of human’s voice are able to show an original feeling, on the other hand, it encourage people who tend to share a private emotion without language.

  • A verbal box

For more outgoing (or who prefer to use language) audience, we provide other choice, which is a verbal box. During the observation, we noticed that people seems like to talk with their friends (or even strangers) when they are waiting for events, therefore, we realised that if the box is only for one person, we might miss the conversation. This project aims on exploring the relationship between people and people, private and public, so it also welcome a group of people to speak out freely.

Architecture issue

As I mentioned before, the initial plan is to hang these two boxes up on the beam, we investigated the architecture of S&S, and we found there are two beams in the building, one is in smoking area, and one is through the main building. Both of these two venue might be suitable for the installation.

Still changing our idea

We have considered about changing our idea was the third time we went to Star & Shadow cinema. Owing to the setting of the site, we found that the space occupied by the two booths was too large, and the installation was difficult to connect to the controlled computer owing to the distance between cafe area and smoking area. Thus, we finally decided to make only one booth and encourage people say whatever they like rather than separate it as a non-verbal and verbal one.

Owing to the setting of the site, we found that the space occupied by the two booths was too large, and the installation was difficult to connect to the controlled computer owing to the distance between café area and smoking area (Which means there are some big problem about how could Adam set up his laptop to control these radio, and how does the projector put the picture in the correct position.) Thus, we finally decided to make only one booth and encourage people say whatever they like.

Moreover, we abandoned the idea of quadrating a booth, and made it like circle (because the cylindrical shape is more beautiful, and we don’t need to fix the bottom of it. The audience can walk in directly by pulling aside the curtain). Me, Calvin and Elaine made this booth by curtains that we had bought before and the wood boards from workshop.

Apart from that, we talked about how to lead the audience to make a voice in booth. At the beginning, we planned to spray paint the curtain, but this would destroy the integrity of the whole project, so we decided to separate the introduction from booth, one idea Calvin came up with was to project its name onto the curtain, with test, he made sure that when we typed the words and attached them to the glass, the shadow of the words would be projected onto the curtain along with the light from the projector. Thus, we decided to project “vocal booth” on the curtain, besides, Adam wrote a label to introduce the function of the booth to people (we printed it).

HSS8121: Public Making proposal

The project for HSS8121 is a group work that consists of four people, Adam, Calvin, Elaine and Leah. After we went to S&S cinema, we have decided to use the smoking area at first in order to get a better achievement to present the core of our project.

Firstly, depending on the topic, which we intended to focus on ‘sharing’, we made an initial decide about the reason why do we tend to choose smoking area as the place. The smoking area in S&S cinema is a semi-open space, although it is in the cinema, we could still see people are walking by the street, and the passing cars without window. Due to that, we though it indicates a distorted line between public and private, public space is a place for people to share their experience and story, on the other hand, private is a symbol of secret.

Meanwhile, we have considered about smoking area might be a time consuming machine. Because of people need time to smoke, so more people might tend to stay in smoking area little bit longer comping with other area. We assumed that smoking is a time consuming machine, people have time to talk with other people here, thus, it become an opportunity for sharing their stories.

Thirdly, S&S cinema welcome public from all different education background. We came up an idea about ‘no cultural barrier’, for us— who are in the university system, it is for sharing knowledge and information what we have learnt in Uni. For visiting public who are not a part of the university, they are allowed to exchange/share personal stories.

About the form of the project, we hypothesized that there are two (or more than two) semi-tight boxes, with a hanging microphone, audiences are allowed to say what they want say, the audio will be processed and at the same time, a web-camera will record the process then project it on the wall. People from outside will not see the face of people sharing their story in the box, besides, after sound have been processed, their voice will not be recognized as well.

The box provides us a private place in a public environment, due to the fact the whole process of this project protect people’s privacy, so we hope it could encourage more people to open heart and enjoy sharing.

According to the professional background of our crew, we decided to divide our work as four part, Adam will manage sound problems, Clavin are going to handle coding work, Elaine has responsibility to documentation, and I will focus on making installation and budget.

An idea and some fragements

This idea comes from a story written by my friend before, it was about an old author who always hears many unusual (even strange) voice during his daily life. For example, he said that he feels he could hear someone crying, while he is listening radio, besides, he would hear music and underwater sound in the next room in the middle of the night, although he knew that there was no people live in the next door. Apart from that, there are many different kinds of bells ringing in his house. Moreover, what bothered him most was that he could hear the sound of key shaking every time if he walked around in his room. Every day when he started to write his novel, these sounds around himself and he couldn’t avoid it.

So I recorded different fragments that might be possible to hear in his story and combined these audio to present a part of his life. Like the sound of
metal crash, sound of water, news and songs on the radio, the sound of typewriter. With the mixing of these audio, I intended to present the background he lived in, by using pure data and other physical materials.

HSS8120: Listen, See, the Heartbeat!

As it works to present the heartbeat of human that reflecting in the flickering of LED, I have considered about how to present the sound effects as well.

Inspiring by the workshop on this semester, I connected a buzzer with photoresistor together that allowed the sound of a heartbeat can be accompanied by LED flickering. However, the inevitable problem is the sound is too low, although it could show the effect that I expected, it probably need to be improved.

Here is the fundamental effect.

The other problem is the pulse sensor is too sensitive that might be impacted on lost of external factors. Even if the finger is little bit moist, the result will be crazy as the first video.

At the end I created the other part of the complete mechanical heart by using some metal materials, including a buzzer, some wheels from watches and alarm, screws and pointers. These elements could be considered as a symbol of robots for me. I put it in a simple rib cage, which was made by lots of branch. Normally, each human have 24 ribs, but owing to the limitation of materials and an error occurred in the design of the placement for putting the heart, I only created a rib cage with 10 ribs totally.

It cannot be denied that even though these raw materials are relatively simple and many unpredictable things happened in the production process, this project does present the effect I want to express. An Android can have their own heart, and like humans, they have their own pulse.

In the future, there are something can be improved to whole effects, hope it could be more interactive and veritable, and hope I can design a real heart for my Android (even I don’t have one 🙂 yet).