Prototype: Measuring the experience between human and dog

This is a one of the prototypes I developed in a mechatronics class during grad school (an interdisciplinary MFA Digital Arts & New Media program).

PROTOTYPE MODEL: The goal was to measure and produce feedback about the emotions that exist between a dog and a human. The prototype implemented an arduino board along with a sensor built into a dog brush that the human would hold (measuring the human’s heartbeat) and a dog collar (embedded with a wireless device that would read heartbeat). That realtime data was sent to a computer and sorted into two groups for both human and dog. The data was turned into what would be 4 types of projected color, that would adjust like a dimmer in small increments.

  1. Human excited state: Cool Red
  2. Dog excited state: Warm red
  3. Human calm state: Cool blue
  4. Dog calm state: Warm blue

The setting would be a white tented dome with constantly shifting colors being rear projected. Human would try to manipulate the color but the dog would be reacting mostly to the energy of the human. The idea was that a person would try to manipulate the outcome going thru  several emotive and reasoning steps until they realized it was about being in the moment.

It’s the kind of thing I am capable of and would love to develop. If anyone is interested, please email me.

Posted in art currently in development, introductions, organizing temporal and permanent studio space (digital and traditional), PROTOTYPES: HUMAN FACTORS | Leave a comment

A post about my User Experience background

I started in web design back when fire was invented – 1995. That was the start of my boot camp – working with clients and stakeholders explaining what users want, why and then putting the plan into a working form.

I have since earned business certificates, a BFA in fine art, and then an MFA in digital arts and new media. My studies, research and practice were focused largely on how media has evolved over a short period of time, where the focus has shifted from top down to bottom up. I personally feel the latter is a bit on the idealistic side.

I have since earned business certificates, a BFA in fine art, and then an MFA in digital arts and new media. My studies, research and practice were focused largely on how media has evolved over a short period of time, where the focus has shifted from top down to bottom up. I personally feel the latter is a bit on the idealistic side.

I also have a business and development background, which is another part of the puzzle that fits this field well.

On top of that I have taught undergraduate Web Design (Beginner and Advanced) and User Experience classes. There I introduced intermediate students to usability testing (qualitative and quantitative), analytics, personas, site maps, just right documentation and of course about the battleground where stakeholders compete for scare resources.

I’m just wrapping up a contract and am seeking a recruiter. I’d welcome email. Thanks.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Book Review from the past: Strategy of the Dolphin: Scoring a Win in a Chaotic World, Dudley Lynch”

Strategy of the Dolphin: Scoring a Win in a Chaotic World, Dudley Lynch”

I believe the author must have been in the mindset of Jonothon Livingston Seagull
The premise is this, we fit into one of three personalities; carps, dolphins or sharks.

* Carps are fearful, and navigate the world blindly
* Sharks care only for their own appetites and are vicious
* Dolphins feed only their appetite, but can always outmaneuver a shark

If you understand which mode each person or group represents in the interaction, then you will be able to govern your behaviors and reactions, ideally asking yourself  “what would the dolphin do”. Sometimes it means maintaining being a dolphin but acting like a shark or carp, if the risk is of being eaten or of being too intimidating.

When I was very young and trying to navigate the relationships of business from the vantage point of being a grant consultant, I found this to be a very accessible way of handling new situations…  I’ve probably told a hundred people about this book since then, and everyone has employed the strategy with great success.

Posted in artist's occupational identity, introductions, media critiques (advertising, websites / UX), reading: art, philosophy, culture | 4 Comments

UX mess: Major online retailer XYZ removes “Buy Postage” at critical juncture

A bit of background, UX is my field, so when a website doesn’t work as a user would expect, the issue stands out to me, but when it is a giant among giants and a critical portion of functionality is compromised, then the error really deserves immediate attention. So I am going to leverage social media to see if someone at XYZ  is listening and will correct this problem.

The Problem is that I get locked out of the “buy postage” option  if I follow the top to bottom organized list of options.

Print Packing Slip
Confirm Shipment
Buy Postage

This is how I spent 30 minutes, from problem to solution.

I printed the packing slip, then I confirmed the shipping, and then expected to have the buy postage option available. NOPE, it wasn’t there, so I noodled around the page looking for a buy postage button… NOPE. Then I perused the help links for a few minutes, gave up and put a help desk request in for a phone call (who has the time for an email solution). To XYZ’s credit my phone rang within a second, and I didn’t wait on hold, and a very well trained friendly representative came on the line. The only first bad impression was the foreign voice – surely the companies who are wildly profitable in this horrendous market could hire domestic, but that’s a post for another time.

I explained my problem, and was told very proudly “Oh yes we disabled that feature”. My inside voice said “Um really – like on purpose you did that”. My outside voice said “Ok, so how do I ship this”.  Add drumroll the answer to me was ” Just pack it and go to the post office”.  My inside voice saying “I don’t think so”. My outside voice saying “Ok, thanks for your help”. I did keep my tone out of it, as the poor guy was just doing his job, and doing well as he didn’t break vocal stride spitting out the canned response.

I always buy my postage via the checkout process not via the post office. This time I could go to the post office and wait wait wait in line, or just go online to USPS and buy the label direct. Well, I found something out today.  USPS does NOT sell media mail online. Huh – again another inside voice “really”.  A few services exist if I want to pay a monthly fee – but again “I don’t think so”… So I clicked my way to my trusty PayPal (incidentally this is XYZ’s competitor), and ordered that postage.  Of course, I still had to copy and paste all the info from my order at XYZ into to their competitor PayPal ‘s shipping portal.

This is not Rosana Dana Dana signing off with “Nevermind”, it’s Melanie Stewart signing off with “really, you did that on purpose”.

Posted in media critiques (advertising, websites / UX), rants identity as artist, TV / movies / online media, Uncategorized, web culture | Leave a comment

Navigation with a layer of transparent agenda?

How many times have you been lost on a website, or lured into the wrong place due to bad signage. It’s daily occurrence for most of us. The sign, the label, the title just doesn’t hit the mark – and it’s a hallmark of the shoddy service that is also about to come your way. Think of the telephone menu hell that’s been popular since the eighties. You call a company to get customer service, you successfully answer the series of  prompts and end up on hold listening to elevator music – periodically interrupted by a branding message “Thank you for your patience, your call is important to us….”. HMMMMM, you don’t have to be a UX expert to know that a stakeholder in the PR department believed that was a good branding idea. Despite the fact that common sense would tell you that the user is probably just going to be agitated by the obvious promotional plug, this kind of poor customer interface has managed to get ported to web practices several decades later. I mean, are the following examples any different than the menu hell example?

  • being forced to click thru several pages to find a what a typical user would be expected to want
  • clicking a link to customer service and having a form returned to you that includes all the check-boxes for sales selected (yes – feels like a spam magnet)
  • outdated forms stored in multiple and forgotten locations which have never been resolved by the company – paramount to not hiring sufficient staff to answer the phones ultimately then leaving the customer on hold…

The list could go on and on, but you get the point. In the web industry usability is elegance!  It’s not a complex concept, it’s about giving your customer’s what they want, essentially putting that content where the user would expect to look for it. Otherwise the effort is as pointless as putting a stop sign after the intersection.

Posted in ads that don't make sense, media critiques (advertising, websites / UX), web culture | Leave a comment

To Flash or Not – That is the Question I Ask of Thee

During the last year I’ve taught several undergraduate courses in Web Design  covering User Experience, Usability,  Dreamweaver, PhotoShop, and of course Flash. The big debate in this industry right now is about whether we as designers want to or even should develop our skills in Flash animation.

the FOR side of the FLASH argument is easy

  1. Flash animation is cool – this can’t be overemphasized
  2. From a practical standpoint the Flash interface is timeline based and so web design becomes a more fluid segway for the artsist/designer who is versed in Final Cut, After Affects, etc – after-all once you have seen one time-line you’ve pretty much seen them all – just like layers.
  3. Flash works even in those mangy browsers (Explorer) that make mincemeat of the CSS standards.
    • It’s hard to justify the wasted development time that needs to be devoted to troubleshooting browser specific issues (aka Microsoft’s blatant refusal to follow standards) – Ok I will stop my rant…

the AGAINST side of the FLASH argument is not so simple

  1. Apple is strategically forcing HTML5, CSS3 & JavaScript (jQuery) by disabling Flash on their mobile devices – remember there are 4 times more mobile devices than there are computers serving up a website to the user
  2. My take is that jQuery over Flash is more elegant (leaner code that utilizes SEO), but I think the decision should be in the hands of the designer not Apple
    • we’ve already had decades of wasted development time due to  redundant & convoluted workarounds needed to fix the limitations of Microsoft’s Explorer products – I’d personally hate to see more decades of duplicitous wasted efforts in our field
Posted in artist's occupational identity, media critiques (advertising, websites / UX), web culture | Leave a comment

Hooked on TV / Movies: week 2

This was a rich week of entertainment, despite the fact that all the series based shows I watch are on break. Can’t wait for the new seasons of: Dexter, Boardwalk Empire, Weeds, Top Chef, Housewives (yes I am hanging my head in shame), True Blood, The Apprentice, and Sons of Anarchy

  1. Christmas day was NBA all the way. We watched 4 games on TV, had an early dinner of ham and scalloped potatoes then went to Oracle Arena to see Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trail Blazers. It was a very strange game, Warriors seemed to have a bad case of rebound aversion. In the end they won, with the crowd chanting “defense – defense – defense” they got control of the ball and then started to play ball…
  2. Black Swan was superb. I won’t give it away, but if you liked Fight Club, you’ll enjoy this thriller. I’d give it 4 stars out of 5.
  3. True Grit is a must see! 5 out of 5 stars. Story, story, story…
  4. Titans: Truly inspiring stories of  triumph in the face of adversity. George Foreman story is incredible – from street thug – to boxing superstar – to business mogul. Donald Trump’s story of personal invention and branding is a textbook classic. Excellence, innovation, & perseverance never gets tired.
  5. My husband and I started watching Storage Wars a few weeks ago. We are both off for the holidays, and so yesterday we went to a bunch of the auctions. I quasi interviewed both newbies & the experts of the circuit. The media artist in me sees real potential for a different kind of reality show – dare I start one more project.
Posted in artist's occupational identity, media critiques (advertising, websites / UX), TV / movies / online media | Leave a comment

book review: Trickster Makes The World: Mischief, Myth & Art by Lewis Hyde

Under the tree was this delectable morsel. I can’t saying I am devouring the content, it’s more that I feel like the puppet-master of a tentative palate – consequently I’m pushing around the sweetbreads swimming in champagne sauce on the plate. The first part to unravel is the definition of trickster, as one who doesn’t just cross a boundary but one who understands its existence, or even creates the boundary.  This concept is the meat and bones of all creativity. This is the terrain that all who create something from nothing and who must confront and navigate both ideologically and practically.

I would like to highlight the difference between a truly original idea which is loaded with risk as significantly separate from  recreation which has the risk stripped away. These include projects that are simple reverse engineered products, or the existing object that is merely enhanced with a nominal twist, Melanie Stewart

Let me digest this – I’ll report back. If this appeals to you, you might also like Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia [Paperback] Gilles Deleuze (Author), Felix Guattari (Contributor)

Posted in rants identity as artist, reading: art, philosophy, culture | 1 Comment

Hooked on TV/movies: week 1

Ok so I am hooked on TV/TIVO & media on the computer  – I just wish netflix streaming offered more titles.

This week’s viewing highlights:

  • Biography: History of Barbie (it’s taken me a lifetime to understand this phenomena)
  • TED TALKS: Hanah Rosin
  • South Park: Merry Christmas Charlie Manson (an uber-typical South Park chase scene, a family reunion of Cartmans of all ages and genders – total awesomeness)
  • Julie & Julia: the inspiration for this blog
  • Iconclasts: Mike Meyers & Deepak Chopra
  • Storage Wars & Auction Kings (in case this art thing doesn’t work out)
  • Tabatha’s Salon Takeover (such a simple business concept: professionalism & a good product)
  • Dead Man: poetic & obscure Johnny Depp jewel

There was a lot of dark & twisted TV on my playlist this week.

Posted in TV / movies / online media | 2 Comments

Current body of process paintings on display at Artists Alley: San Francisco

Production & Closeup views of process paintings.

The actual paintings are acrylic paint on clear acrylic panel with a 1/4″ resin top layer. The painting are hung with a french cleat adhered to the back – this allows the paintings to appear to be floating off the wall, while casting unique shadows. The pieces are highly reflective with areas that are transparent making the pieces more sculptural and environmentally interactive in comparison to traditional 2 dimensional works.

Traditional documentation of an artwork includes a high quality photo, but this is nearly  impossible due to the reflective quality of these works. See images below.

side finish

closeup: finished edge profile & reflective quality

production view: Stills Divide

production view: Rothko's Dilemma & Buckminster Fuller's Bath

closeup: Turner's Sand

Posted in art currently in gallery, introductions, selling artwork (promotion, representation, display, sales) | 1 Comment