2D to 3D – Giving an object life

One of the concepts behind my Ferrofluid idea is giving an object a life from converting 2D to 3D. Starting with the physical reason for wanting to use a free-standing installation rather than digital images on a screen. My approach to my work is more hands on, therefore I feel more comfortable and enjoy working with physical objects rather than objects on a screen.

In recent years there has been a phenomenon in the use of 3D. From making 2D films into 3D, 3D projection mapping and 3D printing more recently. From this it is clear that audiences enjoy the extra dimension that brings things to life, making images or objects more tactile and more for the user/audience, rather than simply for the screen. From the Brandwatch 3D Films Report (2011), quotes from twitter talking about the use of 3D in films show that people feel like 3D is closer to a real life experience, such as one person saying “I can’t wait to see Johnny Depp in 3D”, as though they feel like they would be close to him or maybe even get to engage with him in a life-like environment. I feel this is what it is also like for 3D mapping – ‘VJing’ (Video DJ) companies use it in live music environments to create a complete surround viewing and listening experience for the audience. 3D projection mapping has also been used for advertising purposes such as when Adidas used it for their ‘Adidas is all in’ campaign:


One of the main reasons 3D artwork and installation work is so popular and interesting is because it “takes into account the viewer’s entire sensory experience, rather than floating framed points of focus” (Modern, c.a. 2006). The audience can use numerous senses within installation and 3D art, depending on the type of design. This is why I have chosen to use installation art for my interactive design. Installations are said to be “more experimental and bold” and “they are also usually cross media and may involve sensors, which plays on the reaction to the audiences’ movement when looking at the installations.” (Modern, c.a. 2006). This is they reasoning behind me wanting to use a sensor as it only involves the audiences movement to make something happen within the installation, hopefully meaning that more people will interact and engage with it.

The Tate Modern article also links installation art and theatre together, suggesting they are both played for a viewer who is “expected to be at once immersed in the sensory/narrative experience that surrounds him”. Showing that installation art can be seen as an act, that a viewer/user engages with to create the show. This is an idea that I want to portray through my design; that it is an an act or even a dance in which the audience is a viewer as well as a user of the installation and the ferrofluid is like a puppet with the magnet being the puppeteer.

My idea was build on this concept of changing 2D to 3D, by using a free-standing installation rather than a screen, this already brings the object to life. I could have simulated the ferrofluid using Processing and had it on a screen, but I wanted it to be free standing so the audience would have something more physical and tactile. The actual ferrofluid itself also portrays the idea of bringing something to life, as without the magnet it is simply a viscose black liquid. However, when the magnet is underneath it almost as though it comes to life with the growth of the spikes. If there is a lot of movement with the magnet the spikes of fluid can dance, which would make a great installation if set to music.

Overall, I feel that my idea will have character to it and therefore will be interesting to audiences. 3D designs give life to ideas, to create different experiences for audiences. I am looking forward to creating my design and seeing how audiences interact and engage with it.


Adidas, 2011. Adidas France – 3D Mapping Projection [online]. Adidas. Available from: http://vimeo.com/21216142

Brandwatch, 2011. 3D Films Report [online]. Brandwatch, Brighton. Available from: http://www.brandwatch.com/wp-content/uploads/brandwatch/Brandwatch-Example-Report-3D-Films.pdf.

Modern, T. c.a. 2006. Installation Art [online]. Saylor, Arlington. Available from: http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Installation-art.pdf

Audience Reception Theory

Audience Reception theory has been studied for many years, with the main question being – is the audience passive or active? ‘Passive’ audiences are explained to simply consume the media’s messages and ideas, essentially saying that  the media is ‘injected’ into the audience like a hypodermic needle, or that it is like a “package that the sender (producers) throw to the receiver” (Alasuutari, 1999). More commonly audiences are seen as being ‘active’, in that audiences can receive messages from the media in different ways to which the producer intended them to be received. This could also mean that “different audiences may also decode a programme differently” (Alasuutari, 1999). Individuals personal taste, personality and opinions can effect how they understand and engage with media. One of the main theorists for audience reception theory is Stewart Hall, who explored this theory of Encoding and Decoding, explaining that a producer will encode a meaning into the media they produce, but an audience can decode the media in ways that they wish. Stewart Hall “proposes three potential decodings”, preferred, negotiated and oppositional (Louw, 2001). The preferred reading is the meaning the producers intend the audience will receive. The negotiated reading is when the audience understands some of the message/meaning the producers intended, and the oppositional reading is when the audience does not understand or completely disagrees with any of the messages the producers intended for the audience to read.

All of this shows how different audiences can perceive ideas and messages in completely different ways, so even if the media text is targeted at a specific audience, there are factors in individuals which will effect how they perceive information, such as gender, age, class, location, hobbies and interests etc. For example Morley composed a Nationwide study in 1980 and “discovered that readers decode as individuals, not collectively as a ‘class’” (Louw, 2001). Therefore showing that even if a text was targeted at a very specific audience, they would decode it in their own way rather than it being similar because they are the same class for example.

The reason I am researching audience theory is because I will have an intended reading for my design that I would want the audience to understand and see when engaging with it, but I am aware that people will read and understand things differently. This is why when I test my design in the public space, I will need to ask people questions about ‘what they feel’ when they engage with it, or what do they think it means. I know that the audiences will have to be active when interacting with my design as they will have to go out of their way to see it and engage with it, and I am hoping that people will decode their meanings to be able to give me back information about what they thought of it.

Some of my intended messages to be portrayed through my work are:

  1. 3D installations are bringing design closer to real-life
  2. The ferrofluid is almost life-like
  3. Audience engagement is key to making some designs work
  4. Science can be very interesting when combined with interactive design

I will complete a user test on my design once I have completed it and see if any of my intended messages are met.


Alasuutari, P. 1999. Rethinking the Media Audience: The New Agenda [online]. Sage, London. Available from: https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=VY3zaa9d8OMC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=audience+reception+theory&ots=PU3yUMcoGZ&sig=vmLkozouKZb-CjWz1l5XJqgXTGA#v=onepage&q=audience%20reception%20theory&f=false [23rd January 2015].

Louw, E. 2001. The Media and Cultural Production [online]. Sage, London. Available from http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/2775_Mc10post.pdf [24th January 2015].

Installations and Interactivity

For many years I have researched and been interested in installations and the interactivity used with them. I am researching them as I am wanting to use an installation rather than something just on a screen, such as my idea to use ferrofluid in a container, and using a sensor to control the interaction, it will adjust the position of the magnet. Todd Winkler (2000) explored the idea that “participants may become part of the work itself, as others outside of the sensing area view the spectacle of their interaction while seeing the results”, this is what I am hoping to achieve, that people will interact with my design and others will stand and watch, but want to engage too when they can.

These are some examples of interactive projects made using Processing:

These are from the the exhibition archives on the Processing website. I find the plastic bags example very interesting as it takes the simple idea of camera interaction with pixels and creates it into a fully immersive installation using simple tools like plastic bags. The process and making of it would not have been simple, through having to use coding, mapping the pixels, creating an air supply to inflate and deflate the bags and also the linking to the camera or sensor, but the outcome is very simple yet effective for both the audiences watching and participating as it puts the audience into the piece, making them a part of the art.

The fluid example is also very interesting as it is as simple as just touching the surface that will create a reaction. As they explain in the summary of the video, it also creates a collaboration and teamwork when people come together to see what can be created from numerous different people interacting with it. I also find the scientific reaction very interesting as it is very similar to the effect of ferrofluid which I am hoping to use for my final outcome.

“Interactive media itself is part of the exhibition ‘content’ that visitors should experience and engage with; interaction with an installation is part of its ‘message’” (Hornecker and Stifter, 2006). The main idea I am getting from researching installations, is that there is numerous levels of interactivity which require different levels of audience participation to be able to create the message from the installation. Such as some designs just need the audience to walk past to interact, whereas some require the audience to fully immerse themselves within the installation using many different senses. For my project I want the user to do more than just walk past to be part of the design, so this is why I have decided to form an installation rather than simply graphics on a screen.

Both of these and many others interactive designs are made using Arduino and Processing combined. So I am going to research about Arduino boards and the possibilities of what I could make with it.


Hornecker, E. and Stifter, M. 2006. Learning from Interactive Museum Installations About Interaction Design for Public Settings [online]. OzCHI, NZ. Available from: http://www.ehornecker.de/Papers/OzCHI06TMW.pdf [15th December 2014].

Winkler, T. 2000. Audience Participation and Response in Movement-Sensing Installations [online]. Brown University, USA. Available from: http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Music/sites/winkler/research/papers/audience_participation_2000.pdf [15th December 2014].

Media Spaces – The Science Museum

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We went on a course trip to the science museum, to study about media spaces and they way they use interaction to engage the audiences. Above is a small gallery of images I took when in the museum of places that I felt best represented the interaction and use of space.

The first image is of a piece to do with the internet and texting, it had a video on the screen about people texting and using the internet. The following two images are of an interactive piece revolving around the idea of profiles. The audience user was able to text in to the number and their phone would then be linked to the screen momentarily, it is able to access non personal data from your phone such as the usage and storage, or the games that are in use. I found this space very interesting as it is linking the idea of individuals interacting with their personal spaces of their mobile phone and making it part of the public space for the audiences to see and also use. I like this use of audiences interaction and would love to be able to incorporate this into my final idea, the use of texting can make it quite complicated but I would like to find other ways of having user interaction that requires the audience do fully participate for something to work/happen. Lorenic et al (2010) state that “designers have generally used moving image technology to push the exhibition in two directions; the large scale spectacle and the immersive environment”, the main element I am mainly interested in is the immersive environment; as this is when the user is fully surrounded and contained within the design.

Images 6 and 8 are both from the ‘Launchpad’ part of the museum which I personally found the most interesting, as every element in the room was fully interactive and immersive for the audience, but also highly educational. Image 6 is of small chemical rocks reacting with a liquid and creating smoke, but the audience could control it by blowing in the gap between the glass. This is the kind of interaction I would love to create in my interactive project, with the audience learning something as well as it being fun.

The science museum was a great trip, helping me to explore interaction further and give me more ideas into what I would like to do for my final project. See my Interactive Design Ideas post for my ideas so far.


Lorenic, J., Skolnick, L. and Berger, C. 2010. What is Exhibition Design? [online]. RotoVision, Switzerland. Available from: https://itp.nyu.edu/classes/ied-spring2013/files/2013/01/What-is-Exh-Des-selects12-62-reduced2.pdf [30th November 2014].

Media spaces and mediating interaction

There are many different ways of looking at media spaces and the ways that audiences use spaces, but essentially most spaces are mediated, changed and controlled to make audiences do thinks in a certain way. Some great examples – Ikea:

ikeaThe shoppers are almost forced around the path that Ikea have created for them, making them look through all the different room layouts and showcasing all of the products, before descending to the warehouse to actually find the products to buy and make their purchases. It is almost like a narrative or program that shoppers are made to go through to complete the story or journey. James Tozer for the Daily Mail online explained Ikea as being “designed like a maze” so that the “shoppers find it hard to escape from”.

This idea that media spaces are controlled for efficiency is noticeable in many environments – domestic environments – the way that houses and gardens are laid out for example, or children’s playgrounds – like there is a set way in which the user is meant to implement the park, starting with the ladder followed by the monkey bars then finally the slide or firemans pole to get back down to the ground.


A digital example of mediating interaction is the medium of augmented reality. The technology uses the users natural environment around them and adds in digital images and displays, like mediating the users reality. “Augmented Reality is designed to blur the line between the reality the user is experiencing, and the content provided by technology” (Educause, 2005), so although it is imposing on the users reality, the user has chosen to engage with this kind of medium so it is not in a negative way that it is imposing, it could be seen as more of an escape from reality for the user.

For this project our final designs will be going in the space of the foyer in the Media School building, so I need to study and learn the patterns of the space well to know where will be best for my outcome to be positioned. From what I already know of the space, it is a very simple pattern of people walking almost straight through just to go to a class, so I need something that will catch attention and draw people in.


Educause, 2005. 7 Things You Should Know About Augmented Reality [online]. Educause. Available from: https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7007.pdf [Accessed 23 December 2014].

Tozer, J. 2011. Why shoppers find it so hard to escape from Ikea: Flatpack furniture stores are ‘designed just like a maze’ [online]. Available from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1349831/Ikea-design-stores-mazes-stop-shoppers-leaving-end-buying-more.html [21st November 2014].