The Joy of Technology

December 23rd, 2008 | BY JASON SAFIR

The Joy of Technology is a playful video installation that uses both humor and drama to emphasize our intimate relationship with technology. The satirical character inside the cardboard television set responds to the user’s operation of technology. An electronic razor grows hairs on his face, a pencil sharpener rotates him and tears his shirt, a stapler pokes staples onto his forehead and leaves shatters all over the television glass, and a blow-dryer rotates the screen. All these actions affect the character’s overall appearance once all the technologies are shut off. In addition, the character can also be placed into different settings by turning the television’s rotating knob. Some of the programming that the character is placed into includes a news broadcast, a courtroom and outdoor settings.


Modern Living

November 29th, 2008 | BY JASON SAFIR

Modern Living is a series of fifteen television parodies that mock various perspectives of television culture

The five-minute compilation pokes fun at our TV-addicted age by presenting a variety of imitated television programming and advertisements. These segments center around issues and themes that is relevant in our modern times including mass-consumption, obsession with stardom and ubiquitous technology. Each parody is presented with the same recognizable character throughout, who is placed in different mediated contexts. The performer also acts as the viewer of his own programming, revealing a perspective of television we don’t see when sitting on our couch.

Modern Living advances on my continuous interest in mocking television culture. These parodies are meaningful to me because they reveal the deceptiveness behind media corporations in a fun and creative way. The work also illustrates the damaging effects television can place on a viewer’s impression of the world.

DC Motor Lab

November 4th, 2008 | BY JASON SAFIR

Boiling Particles

November 3rd, 2008 | BY JASON SAFIR

There are many meaningful ways to project interactive particles than on a flat surface screen. Many web art sites depict intricate and well-designed algorithms, but I feel there are more appropriate contexts to present these animations. A futuristic antique could add a whole new dimension to algorithm animations.

Boiling Particles is a virtual cooking pot. The knobs positioned on the stove top adjust the patterns and behaviors of the digital particles that are virtually boiling inside the pot. When the temperature of the water is adjusted with the knobs, the intensity and color scheme of the particles in the animation slowly respond and changes with a randomized effect. The inclusion of accentuated boiling sounds may also be implemented into this new media device.

– projector positioned underneath pot
– laptop for serial communication with Arduino and Flash
– Particles application developed in AS3
– Wooden stove top with knobs connected to Arduino micro-controller
– Stove pot with hole underneath
– A sheet of transparency paper to cover the pot’s empty base
The production process has three stages:
1) Programming the particles algorithm
2) Building wooden stove-top prototype with three knobs/potentiometers
3) Hardware and projector setup

Boiling water is fun … but I am an amateur when it comes to cooking. A virtual cooking device is what I need to learn how to better manage myself in the kitchen. If I screw up, there are no consequences and no food wasted. By projecting boiling water through a digital projection, the process of cooking can be more magical, colorful and visually intriguing. My idea is a scary one too. The way our digital age is progressing, we are losing our conception of reality. Computers are increasingly framing our notion of realism. There is an infinite amount of ways to improve all aspects of our lives with technologies – many of which reduce our ability to understand the reality we live in today. This scary transition, that the digital age is encouraging, is what I seek to express in my futurist antique.


October 27th, 2008 | BY JASON SAFIR

by Jason Safir and Martin Ceperley


chromaCubes is an interactive color control panel and game for all ages. The intense colors and the visceral reactions they provoke produce a relaxing and entrancing experience. It can either be in free form input mode, where the user is free to move the knobs around the circumference of the color wheel, or a short challenging game. The object of the game is simple: a sequence of colors appear, and it is your job to turn the knobs, rotating through the color wheel, to recreate the colors. The result is an enjoyable, immersive experience as you watch the glowing colors respond to your touch, and are guided by a computer voice (there is no text on the minimalist interface).


Click here to watch video documentation for chromaCubes by Martin Ceperley and Jason Safir



Four plastic cubes
Sheets of fog transparency paper
Scotch Tape
Double sided Tape
Tools: drill, saw, rulor, scissors, hammer
Krazy Glue
Small plastic cube
Four potentiometers
Arduino Microcontroller
Four Controlled RGB Leds (BlinkM)
Push button switch
USB Cord


– More advanced color patterns- The boxes can communicate in other ways such as by opening and closing
– LED Timer that is arranged in square shape
– Develop different modes (i.e. game mode, input mode, light reaction from RSS feeds)
– More sounds! Such as when the user turns a knob and when light motion occurs
– Since we are playing with lights and diffusion, the use of a photocell (light sensor) can serve as an interesting input. It can also add another dimension such as by acting as trigger instead of a typical push button switch.
– Develop the user interface process
– Design improvement of the push button switch (i.e. text, logo, a cube blinking button)

Serial Duplex

October 24th, 2008 | BY JASON SAFIR

Using multiple analog inputs can get confusing. This week’s lab emphasized on how to obtain clear values when using three separate inputs. It also introduced the ‘handshaking method’ which is essential in recognizing data from each input that is being sent to and from the Arduino.

A simple setup,  yet I encountered two obvious problems in getting this application to run properly. The first problem I had was with the push button switch. Arduino was not receiving any boolean values from the digital input. This problem was quickly resolbed by replacing the switch with another one. The second problem that I encountered involved forgetting to assign the COMM port in the processing code. This must always be properly identified instead of assuming that processing, or any other programming environment, will automatically detect which port I am communicating with.

Speaking Boxes Midterm

October 9th, 2008 | BY JASON SAFIR

Project team: Jason Safir and Martin Ceperley

Speaking Boxes is more than just a fun device to play with: it proposes a new, animated and efficient way to organize your belongings. The device presents nine small white interactive boxes arranged in a square sequence that automatically opens and closes when the user rotates a bakelite knob. Each box speaks with its own personality such as by the way it opens and by outputting a distinctive sound effect when they open and close. By ascribing separate characteristics and behaviors to each box helps the user recognize the differences between them, which in turn, gives them the capability to quickly identify which box their belongings are organized into. When the knob is turned and settled into a location, a box quickly opens while the preceding one closes. The user may then take an object out of the open (selected) box and place it into another one. All the boxes open and close just by turning a knob. Speaking Boxes may also be portrayed as a creative art piece. For example, a mystery memory game can take place where the user can be instructed to find objects from the boxes based on given clues. All controlled with a knob! By using this device, you can find your items a lot quicker and easier without having to go through the frustration to opening and closing boxes with your hands. Wow, technology is really making us become more and more lazy. If all goes well, we also plan to incorporate a security system into the speaking boxes, where if the user attempts to open any of the boxes with their hands, a buzzer alarm will be heard.


Nine white boxes
5 solenoids (to open the flaps of five of the boxes)
4 servo motors (to open the flaps of the four other boxes helping us generate a variety of behaviors in the way the boxes open).
4 rods (to be used to open the boxes with the servo motors)
Arduino microcontroller
Bakelite knob
Wood/Old Antique (if we decide to make the device look like an antique)
Electrical wire
Colored paper (each box will have a different colored base inside of them)

Serial Communication with Flash and Processing

October 8th, 2008 | BY JASON SAFIR

The concept of serial communication adds a whole other dimension to what you can do with the Arduino microcontroller. Communication with other applications is essential for the type of projects I would like to develop at ITP, especially for those that involve interactive video and technological live performance pieces. My excitement in learning the technical aspects of serial communication encouraged me to experiment with with two dynamic programming environments that I enjoy working with: Flash and Processing. The above images is a graph designed in ActionScript 3 that senses and reads the output values from two potentiomotor’s.  Very useful in analyzing the behavior of inputs!

Next, for fun I wanted to create a simple application in Flash that changes the color of canvas based on values generated from an analog sensor (in this case a pot). Unlike with Processing, to communicate with Flash you need to marshal between a network and a serial port using the serial proxy terminal. You also need an Actionscript library that sends/receives Arduino commands over a network socket (this is built in into Processing). Here I imported the as3glue library, it works great!

The source code for my little color changing application with a potentiometer.

In Flash, I also experimented with send commands with the Arduino. Here I am toggling an LED on/off with my mouse which is acting as a push button switch.

Experimenting with Tom Igoe’s sensor reading values graph in Processing. Establishing serial communication with Processing  is a lot simpler than with Flash, but is still a useful envioronment to consider in some cases, such as controlling a timeline with an anlaog input. For next week’s serial communication lab, I will experiment with Max/MSP!

3D Mouse Cursor

October 2nd, 2008 | BY JASON SAFIR

For this week’s lab, my physical computing class was asked to do something creative with a servo motor. Going in to this assignment, I really had no idea what I was creating. One thing I did know is that the idea of controlling a servo motor with a range sensor really excited me.  There are so many possibilities and interesting results that can be achieved by using the combination of these two electronic components. What I have created here is a simple cursor sculpture that responds to the mouse’s position. When the mouse approaches the Parallax Range Sensor, the cursor rotates left, and when the mouse moves away from the sensor, it turns right. The maximum distance that the mouse can be read by the range sensor is 3m.

Observation Assignment Notes

September 26th, 2008 | BY JASON SAFIR

Click here to view me and Bobby Turnpak’s notes taken from our collaborative assignment …