2023 Portfolio

University of California San Diego - Interdisciplinary computing and art major

Samantha Olsen

Greenhouse, Birdhouse (2022)

Synesthesia Time Capsule (2022)

Yours Truly 2095 - Electric Light Orchestra (2022)

Edge of Worlds (2021)

‘Greenhouse, Birdhouse’ (2022) utilized microelectronics, specifically Arduino UNO, to explore the relationship between humans and nature. By crafting a mini environment within a birdhouse, I was able to create an area of observation for a fabricated nature scene. As the observer approaches to get a closer view, distance sensors trigger an emergency response shifting the serene view to one with fire and a red LED light; thus serving as a glimpse at what comes upon the natural world when humans come too close.

‘Synesthesia Time Capsule’ (2022) is an interactive piece meant to draw members in and transport them back to the Y2K era. This piece serves to heal the inner child for Generation Z participants who may be able to feel the effects of synesthesia and nostalgia as they hear various audio bites from popular media of the 2000’s.

‘Yours Truly 2095’ was a piece inspired by the song of the same name by Electric Light Orchestra, released in 1981. Reading the lyrics and crafting a visual narrative to go along with it opens a conversation about the connection humans have with technology nowadays. Turning myself into a cyborg for this piece allows for a deeper analysis as the personification of machine hints at many hopes or fears about the future of technology.

‘Edge of Worlds” (2021) is a game concept I have been developing in the Unreal Engine. This game takes aims to bring the user relaxation as they travel to different worlds helping out people that come from different universes and different times. Being able to use unreal in this way has has expanded what in my eyes is considered a ‘video game’.

160A ProposalAs a commuter to UCSD, I have an hour each way (to and from) to think and contemplate the world around me. As an ICAM student I am tasked to push technological bounds and define my relationship with technology as an art form. My project proposal takes on central ideas from a very crucial piece of literature which is becoming more and more relevant as our dependence on technology in the modern world grows and grows. That piece of literature is The Cyborg Manifesto by Donna Haraway (1985). In it she discusses the connections amongst humans, animals, and machine. When discussing the systems that put humans in place, Haraway states
“Human beings, like any other component or subsystem, must be localized in a sys- tem architecture whose basic modes of operation are proba- bilistic, statistical. No objects, spaces, or bodies are sacred in themselves; any component can be interfaced with any other if the proper standard, the proper code, can be constructed for processing signals in a common language. Exchange in this world transcends the universal translation effected by capitalist markets that Marx analyzed so well”
“The cyborg is a kind of disassembled and reassembled, postmodern collective and personal self. This is the self feminists must code. Communications technologies and biotechnologies are the crucial tools recrafting our bodies. These tools embody and en- force new social relations for women worldwide.”
These words are what is inspiring my project to showcase a reality where there is a greater avenue of communication, through our vehicles.
I wish to make an environment that transports an audience to a future where cars have become even a form of communication. Completely not practical, but with the box trucks with LEDS on all sides something that is already in our near future in the form of marketing and advertising. An LED display on out rear windows that will display messages.The messages will seemingly at first be ones corresponding to traffic. Then they will get more aggressive exhibiting road rage, and finally will strat to become existential, sharing the thoughts and desires of the drivers stuck in what looks like eternal trafficElements:This project will be an installation piece which will include video elements, made on Unreal and recorded footage projected onto walls. The environment will also be enhanced by 3D printed models of cars and tech pieces, with a well lit and colorful aura thanks to LEDs around the space.Moodboard:

WINTER Project record

—Here i will be documenting the creative process in executing the project outlined in my proposal—

Week 2 Progress into Week 3——————

— I was dealing with a lot of car issues ironically which was a bit upsetting,, in the meantime I ordered a 32x64 with 6mm pitch matrix panel to see how it would work with my arduino uno. It was $94 including shipping so thats fun…
— Eventually scanned my car multiple times to see different results and get a hang of Scaniverse (scanning app),, then uploaded into nomad to start working with it and smoothing out the model.
—Didn’t do as much as I wanted to do and am deciding how I will make the prototype be as immersive as possible ,, car in two pieces one piece?
— Goal is to do more detailed sketches on the space I am envisioning

Week 3 --> Week 4

— Updated website and timeline after seeing what materials I have at the moment
— Matrix Panel still hasn't come in so I have been focusing on other aspects
— Obtained curtain for an idea of a surface where the projection can take place.
— Did 3D print tutorial for Envision
— I thought i could easily smooth out and fill car model but I am going to use a different scanning app/slower method to then scale down and ready for 3D print test
— Got into Unreal after updating drivers and tested out a city sample they had.
— Tested cameras and started picking out assets I want to use to make city more cybernetic after finding tutorial with good workflow that I can use to manipulate the city sample I am working with.

Week 4 --> Week 5

-Matrix Panel came in
-Followed tutorial on Adafruit to connect to Arduino Uno
-Problem ran into is the power cord needing a connection which I am hoping to see if the envision lab on Tuesday has any equipment I can use for it. Other than that connections were simple enough.
-Ran simple sample code on TinkerCad to see how the LEDs objectively would look and work.
-I've been in a bit of a rut this past week so definitely not where I want to be but will turn this momentum around now!!

-For Unreal as I was working with assets and the buildings I'd have to populate the space with, something felt off
-After taking some time to write the influences paper I found out the look I'd much rather work with.
-Hearing that part of the workflow in the tutorials I watched and glossing over it and heading straight for a cyborgian Blade Runner feel seemed good at first but now I want it to feel much more natural and practical after viewing the artists works that have become influential
-Instead I want a morning, modeled after a picture I took. I think in this way it can stay true and personal to me.
-I hadn't done much on Unreal because I think this aspect was holding me back so now I am ready to hit the ground running on this though I do want to overall prioritize the model first right now

-For 3D printing the car, I was really struggling with the modeling given that I cant get under my car to scan it, nor want to pay 130 dollars for a stl file of the caliber I'd want.
-Opted for printing a car from Cults just to see if 3d printing is something I still want to implement in my project.
-Last I left it, I needed some help setting up the 3D print and the helper told me I could just use default settings.
-I think that kind of made it wack as the layering was thicker and it was filled more than I anticipated.
-I will have one longer build printing for next time with precision if modeled cars is something I'd want to implement around the space however, I think they would only serve for aesthetic purposes.

Week 5 --> Week 6

-Not much progress to report during the midterms rush, a lot of troubleshooting and rehashing ideas took place
-Unreal keeps crashing and not saving work as it was saving to a full drive on my computer
-I looked into Joseph Delappe and his low polygon imagery and use of cardboard (Liberty Weeps, Cardboard Solider) seems to be the direction I'm headed
-Got training on Vacuum former, perhaps I will use this for certain parts of the model (lights of the car, other windows)
-Ordered Arduino Mega as the Uno was not turning on or if it did it would flicker and then stop
-I created a list that I will journal with daily to hold myself better accountable in the problems I run into and how I go for a solution
-I think my priorities were jumbled even with the timeline so I want to use this to be more productive and accountable, I will also be uploading this checklist daily even on the website.

Week 6 --> Week 7

-Heading into Week 7 I have gotten the LED Matrix hooked up
-Added reinforcement paneling so that it functions easier and the arduino is places with the panel already
-I have found the jumper cables not as sturdy,, if pressed on or laid flat the screen will glitch
-Started messing with the example codes
-I also got PDF File of car to build prototype of what may be the model for the bigger scaled car

Week 7 --> Week 8

--Continued testing code on Matrix Panel
--Started manipulating code to start getting the aesthetic visual I want
--Crafted Small Model of car and it looks good so far
--Testing out different folding techniques for cardboard,, has to be sturdy enough for panel but visually appealing too, also considering Corrugated Plastic
--Re-downloaded UnReal 4.2 thanks to some advice as to why 5.1 kept crashing.
(side note my mom had to go to the ER and I was the main caregiver so not as much as much progress as I intended heading into week 8 obviously)

Week 8 --> Week 10 (Science Fair showcase)

--For week 8 going into week 9, I worked on scaling up the car model I used
--^ Was challenging mostly because my constraint is the screen size being the size of the rear window.. that didnt make for easy conversion and where I simplified measurements, it was risky not knowing if the final product would look disproportionate or not.
--I also messed around with the code trying to find a way to make it more open for input from a user.. Found this FAQ? of sorts describing what I am aiming to do (a lot of math, more involved than I thought)
-- I pivoted for now to at least have scrolling text in a way emulating Jenny Holzer and working with that for now.
--Unreal was a mess and thanks to a Pwnisher Challenge[https://youtu.be/L-v7QPjtyaI] (one of my influences) I got a clearer idea of what I am aiming to accomplish in the digital art portion,, Using Blender!!
--This leaves Week 9-->10 which means executing things physically to a point to show for our mini showcase//progress report
--Blender was much more intuitive for me especially with the given blender file and animation.. I'm working with the backgrounds and seeing how I can get that where I want (still WIP) before I move to the vehicle. From the example I will change the camera angle and the car model will be a digital model of the fabrication.
--Looking forward to finalizing the aesthetic of this piece. Now that I have a good portion of the physical model done,, reinforcing it and then giving it the style I want will certainly help things fall into place!!


– The following will be a record of the final 5 weeks of development of 'avenue of us' leading up to it's final installation –

Week 1 --> Week 2

-This week consisted of finalizing ideas and concept as it has developed over the quarter break.
-Steering away from the road rage/commuter driven mindset and more about the communication and point of embodiment as originally intended through the inspiration of the cyborg manifesto as well as a new piece I read titled "Cyborgs and Entanglements of Technology, masculinity, and (automated) vehicles by Bag Balmar and Uld Mellstrom.
-I have tested new flashing code of text and am gathering body video to incorporate into the LED screen
-After my second sunset lamp came in as well as the various thicknesses of wire, I started sculpting around the sunset lamps which will serve as the head lights in this case.
-Moving forward I hope to get most of the skeleton done ASAP so I can focus on final details and hopefully laser cut some sheets of metal to add as some paneling if it fits this new perspective I have found and become more passionate in.
-Below you can also see the desired layout of the space I am hoping to install in!

Week 3 --> Week 4

-Wire frame pieces is mostly done,, the initial wire I got to secure them together was too thin and not strong enough so I ordered a new round of wire coming April 25
-LED Matrix panel has list of phrases.. I added different placements of the same sayingaround the panel giving a glitch effect I am happy with. I need to create a lot of variables and strings so I keep adding to it but it is time consuming but almost done!
-Blender wasn't really working out for me so I am filming footage and audio this week for the screen/projecting element of the installation
-Ordered any other materials I am thinking of using like the reflective tape. Also found the reflective cylinders people put on their bikes and hopefully it fits around the wire I used because I think that would look really cool.
-Below is what the metal pieces should resemble once I weave and tie all the wire together.
-In my down time I am working on a logo for the exhibition that I can hopefully post around
-It's crunch time!

Week 4 ---> 5

-Body of car is done with minimal details needing to be added
-Matrix Panel done and working :) may add more phrases later on but its good for now and works
-Video footage filmed just need further editing with sound if i have time.
-I'm bad at taking progress pictures but will add the ones I do have later on.