Thursday, September 15, 2011

Smoke Break 365

Acoustical Partition constructed from discarded cigarette Boxes.

Designer: Benjamin Keddy

365 Cigarette Boxes: $0

1 Eco-Bond 10.1 oz.
Ultra Clear Adhesive (2-Pack): $12.96/unit

1 Bolt of Felt: $30.00

This arced acoustical wall partition is designed to diffuse standing waves in sonically reflective or “live” environments, such as schools, offices, and other indoor spaces where noise can be an issue. The lid of each box is bent flush against the back and glued into place creating two uneven spaces for sound waves to propagate and diffuse allowing for a more noise-free work space. The curvature of each partition physically isolates the individual or group of people from ambient noise sources. An added layer of felt attenuates sound as it reaches the diffuser for a less reactive listening space. Partitions could be placed in library environments, communal study spaces, and in an open floor office workplace. Additional applications include audio production settings where sound reflections can lead to audio masking and phase cancellation, a common problem issue to be considered in both monitoring/recording environments.

As free-standing modular units, multiple partitions can easily be joined together to cover more surface area in larger spaces and can be configured to provide varying degrees of enclosure to the individual. The use of found cigarette boxes in mass serves to raises the issue of how common smoking still is in our communities. Without supporting the tobacco industry and using the mass of residual waste, the partition also conveys a message that quantifies the amount of tobacco that a pack-a-day smoker puts into their lungs over the course of one year.

Because the bulk of the construction requires only lightweight, collapsible boxes, lightweight felt and sealant, materials are easily transported by a single person. Due to its minimal, uniform components, construction steps are relatively simple to follow and only require that the assembler take note of two different box positions. Felt is precut to fit evenly against one side of the partition and can be bonded easily in place by using the sealant.

Although the construction and access to found cigarette boxes in mass perhaps suggests that materials be procured in an urban location, the partition is designed for versatility and can be distributed anywhere in the world. Because it is also used to raise a further awareness of the health issues related to smoking, it would likely have the greatest impact in a community that still has a significantly high population of smokers.

One could perhaps argue that the use of cigarette boxes actually promotes smoking by relying on the purchase of cigarettes to acquire the discarding the box. Because the work is designed without any direct relationship to individuals who smoke, this is not the case. Additionally, the feature of warning labels on these boxes will repeatedly convey messages that serve to dissuade its observers from smoking by highlighting the obvious health issues.

Each unit will come with a small plaque that contextualizes the rationale for its name and construction, informing the viewer that the space taken up by the unit is relatively proportional to the mass of smoked tobacco that is taken into the lungs of a pack-a-day smoker over the course of a full year.

Example #1

Example #2

Example #3

Social Spaces - Phase 1

Oblique Dérive

Urban life is regulated by city planning. Streets form the pathways which guide or influence all movement within a city, and determine the health of the blocks they envelop. The health of these blocks psychologically influences an individual’s level of attraction to that area. The psychological and physical boundaries of the city plan directly determine movement through space.

The act of the Dérive is to “drift” through an urban space guided by psychological pathways in preference to physical ones. The goal of this act is to navigate city spaces in a way which circumvents the constraints of planned pathways and to explore, experiment, and discover new environments that would regularly remain unfound.

The Oblique Stratgies system was devloped by Brain Eno and Peter Schmidt as a creative problem solving tool for creative problems. This system uses a deck of cards imprinted with instructions or questions that would alter the path of an artist’s progression through thier work. If an artist is stuck or uninspired, these cards plant the seed of a new idea to circumvent the psychological block.

I propose, then, a form of the dérive that addresses both the physical and psychological constraints of an urban landscape. The Oblique Dérive is an influenced tour through city spaces. Calling upon the Oblique Strategies, and the act of the dérive, a wanderer will recieve instructions to guide their movement, creating unique tours through the city which may never happen even with aimless wandering. It is an inflexible system for flexible results: recieve your instruction, follow the instruction as you interpret it, repeat.

The Oblique Dérive consists of a simple hand held device. The device is an audio player with recorded instructions, the only control being a single button which allows you to recieve your next instruction when pressed. Instructions are stored on and played from a memory card and received through headphones, allowing for further influence on a journey. Users can share sets of instructions: spoken word, environmental sounds, music, silence - they are all equals. The device plays back the audio at random, which means that instructions (or auditory cues) may be delivered in quick succession or with great space between.

The kit will consist of an enclosure, an MP3 player board, SD card, headphone jack, and headphones.


Enclosure: $8 (radioshack)
MP3 Board: $10 (
SD card: $10 (Best Buy)
Headphones: $10 (variable)
Headphone jack: $.50 (

Possible instructions for auditory guidance:

Increase your elevation.
Do I need an umbrella?
Find rhythm.
Approach your fear.
The quickest route, the longest time.

Social Spaces Project - Phase 1 Bennett


In the past decade many groups have emerged, as grassroots upstarts to coalesce into a solid, functioning organization. By planting the seed, establishing the need/want for a community that supports a specific process or culture that is under-represented in today’s current society, participants can patronize these areas to further their own and others interest in these areas.

Most of these groups are furthered due to a balance of giving and using. Often these socially beneficial groups are free, providing useful assistance or information for the sake of sharing.

Several groups can be identified that follow this doctrine of share and use alike:

-Free community cycle repair

-Free Yoga/Dance/Fitness class

-Wikipedia (the bane of High School teachers everywhere)

-Any forum you've every visited

-Creative Commons (to provide shared content)

-ReStore (Habitat for Humanity)

I wish to provide a physical space where people can meet to exchange goods and services. There is a desire for the exchange of commodities to benefit others. In tandem, a social interaction between community members is fostered. Users can bring underwanted items of interest to a local meet-up and also peruse other’s material items to see if they might have a use for such an item.

A market serves a dual purpose. It is primarily a place where one can acquire goods to better their lives. Our market both frees unwanted items and keeps those same items out of the waste cycle and extends the life of the object. The market also serves a social tenant, one on a local scale that promotes a sense of communal altruism.

The first Saturday of each month, a “Free Market - Flea Market” location will be announced where users can bring their goods and services to be exchanged. No money shall be involved; an agreement between the 2 parties shall be reached that the items are of equal need and exchanged. Items are more than welcome to be offered for free. Services are provided upon agreement and goods are transferred upon completion of the service.

All are welcome to visit and partake in the market for free. To develop a communal sense of sharing and growth, individuals are asked to simply observe a set of a few core respect-related ideas (i.e. BOTH parties must agree to the exchange, certain items/services may not be exchanged [list] (Haz-mat, firearms, etc.)). Refusal to respect these rights of others may end in a request that an individual not participate in the market.

An online companion was considered. There are online markets (for low-profit and free) however the goal of Free Market – Free Market lies withing the social space of interacting with your neighbors. To come to an agreement you have to get to know another community member in a mutually beneficial trade.

The key to a successful, sustainable market lies in the labors of it’s volunteers. Acquiring an adept space to hold the market, involving local resources to provide community and familial incentives to visit the market, and providing structures of support are inherent aspects of an environment I am looking to cultivate. Communities and groups like these expand and sustain naturally, however the right mentality and modes of nourishment are reliant upon of those who seek to add to, and glean from their offerings.

Costs involved:

-Item(s) required for bartering

-Volunteers to acquire spaces and provide advertising

-Cool tote bag for sale (Market Cost)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Social Space Project: Phase 1

BioMeme: biometric empathic communication

the kit includes:

DAEX25 sound exciter:
(, $5

Arduino-compatible Ardweeny:
(, $10

FTDI cable: $17

Piezoelectric film / Vibration Sensor - Large:
(, $3

Software (free):
Based on "knock sensor" example, KnockSensor

Terrycloth wristband: $1

Adjustable ring base: $2 (or less)

solid-core wire: $2

female 3-pin header: $1


The BioMeme is a device meant to link users together through biometric data - in this case, by measuring and amplifying the heart rate.  This kit aids in the construction of a device that measures interior biological rhythms and projects them outward, communicating the usually concealed agitation or excitement of each user.  The BioMeme invites users to empathize and synchronize their own interior rhythms with others, ultimately propagating a shared biological rhythm that transgresses boundaries of culture, gender, and language.

While many attempt to conceal their struggles with agitation and anxiety, the BioMeme promotes biological awareness and proactive behavior regarding health.  For example, talking therapies promote a willingness to share fears and anxieties either to an individual or group to create lasting relationships based upon openness and trust.  In addition, monitoring of one’s own heart rate promotes healthy biological awareness.  A common technique in many meditation practices is the attempt to control one's own biometric data, slowing or increasing one's own heart rate.  The ability to do so can help reduced stress quickly, concentrate on difficult tasks, and recover from fatigue faster.  With the help of the BioMeme, a user can first learn to control his/her own heart rate, and use this data to connect with others.  A BioMeme user may place the sound exciter on a companion to allow them to share her biological status.  When used as a pair or in a group, users can attempt to synchronize biometric systems.  Ultimately, the BioMeme may be used to chain many users together, synchronizing heart rates and creating a community with a shared biological rhythm.

The device consists of a wrist-mounted microcontroller attached to a speaker element mounted on an adjustable ring blank.  A piezoelectric film attached into the inside of a wristband, thus flush against the wrist, detects the vibrations caused by the pulse.  These vibrations are sent to the wrist-mounted Ardweeny, an Arduino-compatible microcontroller.  The vibrations measured by the piezo are translated into sound and amplified as they are fed through the speaker wires attached to the sound exciter element cupped in the hand.  The sound exciter, when attached to a surface, speeds it up to 20,000 cycles per second, transforming it into a speaker.

The BioMeme can act as a boon to the lone traveller in an overwhelming urban territory.  When traveling alone in the concrete jungle, it is common to feel anxious or agitated, whether from a pervasive claustrophobia, agoraphobia, or perhaps the fatigue of overstimulation.  Just as insects such as the cricket engage in stridulation to alert others of their presence and biological state, the BioMeme allows the user to project his/her heart rate onto walls and project his/her biometric "mood" to those in close proximity.


Social Space Project, Phase 1- Jon Chambers

Line Graffiti (Working Title)

Graffiti has been one of the most aesthetically transformative forms of public artwork, or criminality, that has emerged in the last 40 years. It has changed the urban landscape and social space from dull, blank canvases to sometimes beautiful swaths of color, concept and design (although I think of tagging as a different category). In Chicago, you can’t buy spray paint, and there exists a clan of “Graffiti Blasters” that take to the street and claimed to have blasted over 1.6 million instances of graffiti vandalism. According to the City of Chicago’s website, “Graffiti is vandalism, it scars the community, hurts property values and diminishes our quality of life.”  How many of these 1.6 million instances were brightening the community? Graffiti has even become part of the art institution, with artists like Banksy, Margaret Kilgallen, Fab Five Freddie, etc. showing in esteemed museums and sold at auction houses. Who owns the urban landscape, the city or the people who live there?
            This project creates “graffiti” kits and consists of a material that would come with instructions on how to form different patterns along the lines of bricks. I chose bricks as the specific form because they are ubiquitous as building materials, create patterns, and have a dull, boring color. A standard brick will be used as the unit of measurement to create the patterns and instructions that are distributed with the kits. For instance, when creating a pattern, the first piece of material would be laid across, lets say, 6 and a half bricks. From that first piece, count four rows down from the right edge, then lay another piece over a certain number of bricks, and so on. Of course, once in the hands of a potential consumer or user, they can do whatever they want, but the true form of this piece would emerge from these instructions.
            The aesthetics of the finalized pieces take cues from conceptual art (Sol Lewitt), the architectural line, and color pallets from graffiti art. These simple lines, especially the corner design, accentuate the form and material of the building, and play with the public’s perception of perspective. As one would move around the corner, the lines would gradually change shape, something they may not notice with the dull color of bricks. This gradual change makes the building dynamic, a sort of animation or sculpture. I haven’t come up with a package design or distribution method, but a technique I was thinking about would be using the Internet. The potential user would then simply download the plans and use wheat paste. This distribution method would be free and open sourced, which would be more characteristic of graffiti. I was also researching tape or decals that could stick to the surface of brick. Using printouts, the lines wouldn’t be as shiny or clear cut as the tape or decals, but the they would be environmentally friendly. There are many bricklaying styles that could be formed into different designs, so in some cases, the design might be sight specific.

Here are two concept sketches:

The kit element of this project will consist of a box with the ingredients in it. I have included the templates of the box, the graphics that will be pasted around the box, and a drawing of what the box will look like when constructed. There is also an image of what will be in the kit, although the specific instructions haven't been planned yet. The paper won’t be dispersed in rolls, as I will cut strips to length. I’ve found rolls as cheap as $5. I will also create a simple website for the project where you can download the plans for each piece and submit photos of installed projects. Keeping with the ethics of graffiti culture, there needs to be a website for people who don’t want to buy the designed kit, and a broader culture may form through the submitted photographs. I have also included an image of what the website may look like. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Research Project - Phase 1: Chaz

Possible working titles:

Comfort Situation


Autonomy Bag

There is no blanket federal policy of the public consumption of alcohol in the United States, instead alcohol laws are determined by regional authority. Although a state legislature has the ability to create state-wide rules for alcohol consumption, few make such state-wide policies and often alcohol policy is derived from very specific micro-polities. Policy is often determined at the county level, but it is not uncommon for the ultimate rules to be determined by the city, town or even village level. It is a rare category of American legislation which is allowed a wide spectrum: one village may be under complete prohibition, while the next town over has several liquor stores and public houses. Often these neighboring alcohol situations create cross-pollination creating a consumptive eco-system even though contrasting values are expressed by the public policy placed on the differing community. In this way public alcohol policy offers one perspective on the cultural conditions and human relationships in very specific localities. Public alcohol consumption laws can be seen as reflections and expressions of cultural ideas and boundaries, as well as actively enforce and influence behavior in social space. The lack or presence of alcohol in public space, private space, or "third-spaces" has a real impact the subject's and collective's relationship to, and behavior within, space.

In personal experience I have been incredibly struck by the stark difference in human performance between the public spaces of Chicago and New Orleans. Statistically Chicago is rated a as a far more alcohol-consuming town than New Orleans (per-capita). In fact it consistently ranked in top-placements of American alcohol consumption by various sources. Yet, New Orleans is famous for its carnival oriented culture even though statistically less alcohol is being consumed. More important than the statistical comparison is the comparison of how people relate to space and each other when public alcohol consumption policy is on either extreme of a spectrum: Chicago allowing no open containers in public (not counting exceptional public spaces contained by specific delimitations in space and time), while New Orleans allows the free carriage of any drink up and down any street. (In both cases I am comparing the policy of possessing open containers as a pedestrian, in both locations it is of course illegal to carry alcohol in the passenger compartments of automobiles.) In New Orleans the presence of this manner of alcohol consumption leads to many radical pairings of humans interrelating that might not occur in a space that does not afford such consumption, create visits to and behaviors in locations that one might never otherwise, and of course may cause the problematic decisions, behaviors and pairings which can get a subject into trouble. Chicago on the other hand, and its policy of confinement certainly do not curtail the consumption of alcohol but do engender, it could be argued, alcohol influenced behaviors and relationships with also take on a confined quality. This results in the less carnival-esque character of alcohol consumption in Chicago, but does can create an intensity of relationships and community, in in constrast personal isolation, especially in winter months.

In order to delocate the character of these contrasting spaces, and perhaps make a temporary hybrid space of these examples (and possibly others) my project endeavors to exploit a well-known, yet infrequently exercised exception in the blanket prohibition of open containers in Chicago: the "Brown Bag" law. In what has always struck me as a somewhat arbitrary gesture of legal appeasement, a Chicago citizen can legally carry an open container if it is properly wrapped in a brown bag. But with this legal work-around comes cultural biases and class distinctions which for the most part discourage the practice, or at least keep the brown bag practice a far cry away from the carnival streets of New Orleans drinking culture.

This project consideres altering the the conditions of social space, and the human behavoir therien, by embracing the concept of the brown bag rule, while altering it spatially and structurally. If the visual attention of the brown bag in public engenders neither the radical comradery of New Orleans or the intensified drinking relationships of Chicago, perhaps an inversion of what is contained can provide an atomized unit of both. By containing not the beverage, but a small social situation itself within a brown bag, hybrid, radical, and ephemeral social spaces could be engendered through use of very modest materials.

Partially inspired by the methods of the Situationist derive, I propose a portable kit which could quickly deploy or collapse a space for two participants to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, contained within a brown paper structure, within any public space where it would not otherwise be possible to do so. The kit would allow the pair to wander freely through public space, stop to deploy the structure and drink, pack up and continue wandering again. The aim is to alter the experience of many social spaces which would not be normally experienced with the consumption of alcohol, as well as create temporary autonomous drinking zones to ensure the inclusion of the inter-personal imporance of consuming alcohol.

To keep the rigor, thoughtfulness, and legality of this exercise on the level, use of the kit would be strongly prohibited for those under the age of 21 (or of legal drinking age in any locality where the kit is used.) Furthermore a strong guideline of moderation would be emphasized in the design of the kit; the brown paper rule works around the open container rule of Chicago, but public drunkenness laws in Chicago and other localities are another thing altogether.

Here are some initial sketches of what this kit/structure might look like. The first is a box design with legs that telescope and rotate inwards toward the top of the frame. Brown paper is extendable from all sides via rollers attached to all four sides of the frame top. A handle on one side of the frame is used to carry the structure when it is collapsed like an light ironing board or guitar case.

The second design is more tent-like. The kit consists of two parts 1) a lattice which can be collapsed into a walking stick, and a brown paper covering which can be folded into a pouch. The covering is cut to the form of a tent so all you have to do is place it of the lattice and fasten its corners down somehow (method for this is not yet decided.)

The third and perhaps most convenient design doesn't use a frame at all. Instead it is simply a gigantic brown paper bag which is placed upside-down on top of the two drinking participants. The bodies of the participants themselves act as a frame to prop the bag up, with enough space between the two to enjoy beverage and conversation. Optionally, participation could wear should mounts which could hold the bag above their heads, in case supporting the bag with the head is not comfortable.

View 1: Bag Exterior

view 2: bag interior

view 3: bag interior with optional shoulder mounts