Capstone Project

Breathing Space

(In Progress Project)

A kinetic installation involving 30 blooming paper cut stories linked to the artist’s breath. As we live in a virtual space this piece acknowledges the act of living within a COVID context.


Project Description:

Breathing Space addresses the challenge of remaining present in the physical world while we live in a virtual space. The final piece will be a wall garden of 30 blooming flowers that respond to my own physical breathing. Each flower will feature a paper cut story displaying different events that I have experience, observed, or struggled with during the past year of COVID. The act of breathing in opens the flowers displaying an overwhelming number of papers cut scene. This saturation of images emphasizes the anxiety when dealing with 30 events simultaneously. Nevertheless, when breathing slows, the collection of images become more digestible.  Breathing out will close the flowers preventing the wearer from seeing the images at all.

The action of concealing and revealing of stories not only alludes to the disconnected feeling of living in a virtual environment but also references a certain level of denial and disbelief within our dis-information era. The form of the paper cutting flowers was inspired by Kara Walker’s paper cutting narratives. Paper cutting forces the viewers to focus on the silhouette rather than the details. This further embodies a sense of distance between the viewer and the story itself. The 30 paper cuttings all shown together is overwhelming; this forces the wearer to acknowledge and accept the cacophony of events that has occurred. The paper cut narratives themselves with be a mixture of personal, political, and mundane events.

The idea for Breathing Space was inspired by Team Lab’s Forest of Flowers and People: Lost, Immersed and Reborn installation where projections of CGI flowers respond to the physical presence and touch of the audience. Much of Team Lab’s work is about a connection to nature and our environment through a virtual lens. Breathing Space builds on this concept of nature and technology with a COVID context, where our lives are already rooted in a virtual space and we have a need to be connected to a physical object rather than a projection. Furthermore, unlike the act of touch, Breathing Space refers to breath and the weight it delivers in a public verses private space. This piece works to process and acknowledge our life during COVID as a performance of a mechanical object responding and connecting with my own physical living being.

The piece will have two separate components, a breathing sensor on my own body and a single board computer on the art piece. The two will communicate via the Raspberry Pi’s wireless internet or Bluetooth connection enabling the me to move freely around the room without a physical wire attaching me to the wall. The wall garden will be built using a servo motor to open and close each individual flower. The final product for a public audience will be in the form of video documentation that will be showcased at the Meeting of the Minds Symposium on May 12th, 2021.  Overall, Breathing Space presents itself as an anchor to the physical act of being and living within the context of COVID.


Sketches & Prototypes

Design Prototype

The inside white paper will be cut into a visual narrative while the black casing will conceal and reveal the design upon each breath.

Mechanical Prototype

The petal design in this version was not finalized.

In the future, hinges will be bought. In this prototype the hinges were self made from wire preventing the petals to close and open symmetrically.


Goal & Outcome:

The goal of this project explores the boundaries of the physical and the virtual and the intersection of technology and art. As a student who is a double major in art and physics, I want to demonstrate how technology has influenced my art style by combining electronics and mechanics with visual, performative storytelling. Furthermore, this project has given me an outlet to process my virtual environment and the events around me. During remote living, consequences feel insignificant and days feel detached from reality. This project is a physical reminder for me to be present within my environment and acknowledge the confusion and complexities surrounding recent events.

I will present Breathing Space at the Meeting of the Minds symposium on May 12th 2021 through video documentation.


Budget:

Grant APPROVED! Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier (FRFAF) Microgrant ($500):

This work is supported in part by funding from the Carnegie Mellon University Frank-Ratchye Fund For Art @ the Frontier

Any additional costs outside the FRFAF Microgrant will be either paid out of pocket or requested from the BXA Capstone Supplemental Grant (applications on a rolling basis.)

Document Link: Google Sheets Budget & Timeline


Timeline:

The timeline for this project can be found on the third tab of the document above. I plan to accomplish this project by the deadline of May 12th where it will be presented at the Meeting of the Minds Symposium.

I have created deadlines for various steps and process in one month time spans, in order to work on multiple components simultaneously and continuously push the project forward. This approach keeps in mind a holistic view of the project eliminating the risk of spending too much time on a single component.Furthermore, although the goal is to complete 30 flowers, the foundation of this installation will be split into 3 separate bases allowing me to alter the project size if needed. This will guarantee I complete the project, but the finished size will vary depending on the number of complications along the way.


Biography: Relevant Skills & Supporting Material

Technical

This project involves Raspberry Pi which uses the coding language Python and has a similar electrical set up as Arduino.

I also have experience with the electronic and mechanical component of this project through the course 60-131 Art and Arduino. There I built an installation using motion sensors, servo motors, and LED lights called Relaxing Entanglement.

I also have experience with the electronic and mechanical component of this project through the course 60-131 Art and Arduino. There I built an installation using motion sensors, servo motors, and LED lights called Relaxing Entanglement.

Artistic

Each flower contains an intricate paper cutting referring to past events. I have the skill and experience to execute all 30 planned paper cuttings.

This past summer, I created two fashion paper cutting that depicted Chinese and British exports from antiquity to modern day. This project displays my skills with an Exacto knife and the type of style my paper cuttings will have. The completion of both pieces after content research and planning took only one month.


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