A collaborative platform aims to facilitate human connections among strangers through completing synchronised activities while maintaing safe social distance

In this installation, participants will be invited to light the tree through by coordinated, synchronised action. The most unique part of this installation is the contextual elements, which is inspired by landscape artist; James Turrell; who demonstrate that an artwork not only has power by the quality of itself, but also from the context, the environment where it implements. Thus, our team embeds our concept into the existing natural objects: three rocks and a large tree. Rocks play the role as inputs. participants will sit on the rock to stomp their feet on our designed little two rocks plate to accumulate points through coordinating other participants stomping at the same time. As a result of this the light hanging on the tree will be lit up. Our team believe providing a goal for participants to work towards will help them to form a sense of human connection or appreciation to one another while keeping social distance . Also the well integration of our modern installation with natural objects could help participants to contemplate the natural forms around them, wchih cause a great sense of nature connection.
There are two different version of our installation. Version one highlight the power of music rythym while version two focus on coordination of strangers. This because we wanna keep attracting participants interacting with our project, we believe the consistency could enahnce their user experience and understanding of our concept

Interaction Plan

  1. When nobody sits on the rock, all light lines are out
  2. When one person does stomping activity at the correct time, the light lines will be lit with yellow and green color for each side, and the light line connects with the tree will be lit in green. If the participant doesn’t stomp at the correct time, the light line connects with the tree will be lit in red.
  3. When two people do a stomping activity at the correct time, the light lines between them will be lit, and two light lines connect with the tree will be lit in green, red light line will occur if they don’t stomp at the correct time
  4. When three people do the stomping activity at the correct time, the light lines between each rock will be lit and all light lines connect with the tree will be lit, the whole tree can be lit as well.

Technical Development & Construction

Software development

Though our project are divided into two version, the building process is quite similar.Both version are achieved by arduino with NeoPixel. However, Different arroaches are adopted, Version two(coordination version) only use one arduino to control all the led strips with cable connection, then send signal from arduino to light the strips hanging on the tree, while Version one(musicversion) made are controlled based on three Arduino(A,B,C) Since the designer is external, only prototypes with complete functions have been produced instead of field equipment. Each arduino in charge of one led strips, the A machine is the host, which is responsible for controlling the switching and resetting of the entire device. Three LED strips and two buttons are connected to the three machines. The two buttons are connected to the Arduino through a relay. Arduino processes the signal by recognizing the user's interaction with the button and transmits it to the LED strip. Specifically, when the user hears the beat, he needs to press the corresponding button under his foot to follow the rhythm. If its operation is correct, the indicator light connected to the A machine will show green. If the user misses or steps on the wrong step within the one-second response time set by the system, the indicator light will turn red.

Physical construction

Initially, we used AutoCAD to draw the basic shapes of the small rocks which are used for stomping activity. Then we used a CNC machine to adjust the parameters of the rock, including thickness and height, followed by cutting it off from the composite plate. Then, the wood boards are sprayed with grey-black paint to simulate the appearance of the rocks and they were fixed into the field eventually with pipe stabiliser .

Final Statement

Exhibition form

Due to part of our team is currently oversea, we were only capable of implement the stomping version in UQ bloom festival. The current version took the form of 6 rocks, each rocks embed with one sound sensor to detect participants’ movements.

There are two types of led strips. One is neo pixel which is connected with stomping rock on the ground. Another one is addressable led strips which hang on the tree as visual effects.

Exhibition experience

Our installation was exhibited for two days (Thursday and Friday ) start from 4pm to 8pm. We were upset about the setting up at the beginning. This because our installation demands heaps of wires and cables to initialise. As a result of this wires and cables and wires would were all over the field, which clearly destroy the natural environment that we try to intergrade into. Another issue is the visual effect, as the sunshine is really strong in the afternoon which overshadowed the led strips. The aesthetically appealing experience that we aim to deliver could also be jeopardised.

But after 6:30 pm, it looks much prettier than daytime. However, we found there is one thing really interesting. There is a different interaction pattern between daytime and night time. In most cases, participants are more competitive and have higher chance to stand on the stomping rock during day time( prior 6pm). While participants who interact during night time are more relaxed and more amazed by the visual effect. There is a participant who is engineering students who was really attracted by the installation. The first time he was really excited about the interaction mode. Then he brought his mate back later, he spent more time appreciate the visual effect.

Our team believe that the intended experience could be changed or shifted because of the different time period of a day. In the daytime, most participants might consider this installation as a physical exercise. They tried to stomp on the rock as fast as possible. In the night time, participants enjoyed more about the immersive visual experience.

On the second day, our team slightly refined our implement technique. We sticked the cables and wires with pipe pin in the ground first, then cover the led strips on that in order to make it visually tidy. Also, we found that the final visual effect passes really quick on first day (about 5 seconds), which did not give participant to record their memory. Given that, we extended the visual effect to one minute. In addition, longer visual effects brought us an unexpected bonus. People seems stay longer time, and some of them even talk to their companions after they light the tree successfully. This is a big improvement, as in first day, most of them just cannot wait to leave and say bye-bye to us after their interaction.

Future development

Technic development

Due to the time limitation, we were not able to embed a led strip into each stomping rock as indicators for the participants. when nobody is interacting with the stomping rock, the ambient light on that will fade in fade out to attract attentions. As a result of this, participants might be more extrinsically motivated to engage in this installation instead of being invitedto interact with installation. Also, certain sounds or melody could be added into this installation in different stage. For example, when they stomping at the same time it should give sound feedbacks to motivate them keeping doing the same thing. Otherwise, some participants just constantly stomping on the rocks and ignored to collaborate with others. For better implementation and safety. We could embed the led strips into a wood with two grooves (above and underneath). The led strips could be embedded on the wood groove and underneath part of the wood can contain the wires and cables.

There is still a big potential about the outputs of this installation. For example, we can hang fairy lights on the tree then create meteor light effects.

Concept development

As we aim to build human connection, this installation could be more social. For example, we could create a leader board app or website to record their time and moments. Then they can share or compete with their friends. Also, this leader board could be an online platform for them to communicate and share their story.

The interaction between participants and installation did provide us a different direction of this installation. We think this installation could be adopted into fitness domain. People might feel motivated to do exercise when their effort being visualised. For example, when a group of people in the HIIT class doing ‘running on the spot’ or “high knees”, they don’t have to count how many reps they have done. They can only focus on the exercise they are doing and will gain “visual rewards” when they have done the current exercise. The immediate visual responses might help them perform better and maximise their potential.