Assignment 3 – Short Project 2

Assignment 3: Short Project 2, Major Studio 2

The prompt for short project 2 is “Spicy Space”. Each word has a lot of synonyms, with a few standing out particularly. Namely:

  • Spicy:
    • zest
    • lively
    • high-spirited
  • Space
    • extent
    • dimension
    • duration

These 6 words refer to ‘energy’ and ‘movement’ which signify ‘Kinetic movement’.

Kinetic movement has a lot of types, ‘interactive art’ and ‘stabiles’ being of interest to me. With the influence of ‘dadaism’ to the concept of space and spice, my theme speaks of human encroachment into the lives and lands of other creatures.

The idea is to create an interactive installation that is a combination of the mobile and stabile form of kinetic art. The base of the installation would be a city divided into 4 layers while the mobile is a bunch of houseflies. As the viewer moves closer to the installation, the city begins to rise layer by layer depicting the growth of places for people’s comfort while the increase in fluttering of the house flies shows the discomfort caused to them with the architectural development. The installation aims at making people feel empathetic towards other creatures whom they cause uneasiness to.

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The idea of the installation emerged as being from the human perspective, giving the viewer a disgusting feeling seeing flies. Instead, taking the suggestion of the class, I would like to present the project from the creature’s perspective.

Further research, into creatures affected by encroachment, highlighted a certain specie of butterfly majorly affected among other creatures. The specie “Lange’s metalmark butterfly” is native to the Antioch Dunes at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay. It has been one of the most endangered species in the United States. It has declined from 250,000 in historic times to 45 butterflies in 2006. One particular fire in 1906 led to the beginning of their decline. This effect of one insignificant event has led to a significant decline in the butterfly population. Coincidently, this effect has been termed the butterfly effect.

Keeping the butterfly effect as the theme of highlighting human encroachment, my idea of an installation is modified from flies and cities to butterflies. I now intend to create an installation of a huge butterfly made up of a 100 or more smaller butterflies made from origami. This installation represents how numerous butterflies are one specie. I would then project the actual butterfly image onto this installation to show how the specie looks. When someone walks closer to the installation, the projection changes from the wings to skulls on the butterfly.


This image has been the inspiration to the projection concept of the installation. I could not have found a better way of depicting the atrocities faced by this specie due to human activities.

The main idea of the installation is the butterfly effect, making people think about how their choice of walking towards the installation has taken the color from it. The same way actions we consider insignificant in our everyday lives have a huge impact on our environment.


I am making the butterflies using origami. I experimented with 3 types of origami butterflies and asked about 8 people about their opinion as to which butterfly would they like to see in an installation. Based on their preferences I selected the center butterfly which most resembles the natural butterfly shape.


I also tested multiple types of paper in terms of their weight, feel and look. Rice paper was the most appropriate option as it has a slightly grainy texture and is really light to hold. It gives the butterflies a naturally flowing appearance. The butterflies made are of two sizes. The big ones are about 11 inches and the smaller ones are 5.5 inches. In all, the installation has 75 big butterflies and 11 small butterflies, totaling up to 86 butterflies being used. The size of the installation is about 3 ft x 2 ft.


The initial idea of the project was to hang the butterflies from an aerial suspension. However, due to time constraints and wanting to deliver a finished project, I modified it to be a wall mounting.

While the physical prototype is ready, the digital projection code is a combination of Arduino and Processing. The Arduino reads the ultrasonic sensor for proximity while Processing manipulates the projection. I am comfortable with the Arduino and the ultrasonic sensor. The challenge was to send the sensor data from the Arduino to Processing in order to manipulate the projected image. I tried two or three different codes before using the one I am now.

The projected images are:

The final projections:

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The journey of understanding human encroachment led from H.E.L.L.O.C. to The Butterfly Effect.

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The references are available in Bibliography.