Investigation 1 - Creative Project

The Unexplained

tl;dr: Manipulate a system or technical process to produce an outcome or effect that someone might struggle to explain. This critical prototype should embody, materialize, or examine an perspective on explainability through a computational process or a hybrid object (tangible/connected object).

Due: Thursday, Feb 7

Submit Documentation: Gallery Pool - The Unexplained


Due Date Deliverable Details
Thursday, Feb 18 Proposal Create a proposal for your creative project (200 words + illustrations) and share on the Slack in #projects
Thursday, Feb 18 Case Report on a case or precedent that relates to your idea
Tuesday, Mar 2 Project Develop a rough cut to discuss during desk crits
Thursday, Mar 4 Project Present your prototype in class.
Friday, Mar 5, midnight Documentation Deliver documentation of your creative project

Brief and Goals

Develop a hybrid object (tangible, connected object) for memory; this critical prototype should embody, externalize or augment your memory through digital and computational processes.

The goal of this exercise is to self-experiment. Find an aspect of memory that you care about and design a tool for it. You might try to find a limitation of your memory and design a new digital device to overcome it. You might imagine a device that would allow you to preserve a cherished memory that you no longer have a record for. Or you might speculate on a device that could help you journal aspects of your day that are hard to capture with technology today, like your emotional memory. You could try and solve a problem for your future self for example if you suffered from a neurodegenerative disorder like Alzheimers. You could construct a data selfie and physicalize your memories from data points. You could imagine responsive structures to help you remind and reflect when it matters. You could envision a device to help you reconstruct your memories digitally from fragments online or to share and transmit your memories to someone you care about.

Develop at least one prototype that demonstrates your ideas for augmenting memory through ubiquitous, tangible or physical computing. The proposal should consider how data and digital information will be used to augment memory and how smart objects can be used to embed, encode or embody memory or experience.

The possibilities are wide and varied. But you should:

  • Make - i.e. test your ideas and give them a form.
  • Research - i.e. uncover theory, ideas, and precedent projects that inform your approach.
  • Gather - i.e. find inspirational resources from speculative designs, design fiction, science fiction, etc.
  • Experiment - e.g. don’t just prototype the device and interactions but simulate/construct the data it might produce or use;
  • Document - e.g. test your ideas on yourself or others, how do you or others experience and encounter the device, what are your reactions and responses, document how you respond to it, what values it offer, and why it might matter to you or others.

Unusual approaches, left-of-center thinking and impracticality is encouraged!

Note: Hardware, technologies and other resources can be requested.

Learning Objectives

This exercise is designed to develop knowledge relating to memory and technology and help to develop a body of knowledge as to how memory can potentially be supported with new forms of ubiquitous and pervasive computing. As part of this exercise, you will:

  • Develop your domain understanding of distributed memory;

  • Investigate existing technologies which can, could and are being used to support/augment/enhance/change memory

  • Speculate on potential approaches to augmenting memory with smart objects from the practical to the outlandish (strongly encouraged);

  • Develop a hands-on exploration that begins to tease-out the broader considerations, issues and requirements in building memory-technologies (social, cultural, personal, implications etc.)

  • Work individually to explore your own skillsets, expertise, and perspective within the context of this course and understand how they might contribute to an interdisciplinary investigation by making work.

Constraints and Considerations


  • You must work with a computational processes
  • You must work individually.


  • What are the everyday systems that are hard to explain? What is spooky or unsettling about our encounters with tech and systems today?
  • How do you trigger/craft an experience with a system or process that might challenge explainability? And what cues are effective or provocative?
  • How does explainability change for different people? Who are you designing this intervention for and why?
  • What does data say about our relationship to technology? What stance does it take and what statements or critiques can it make?
  • How can you remix or build on an existing project or system to add a critical layer to it?


  • A physical prototype of tangible memory object. You can take any approach to preparing this tangible manifestation that you feel is appropriate. This should be of reasonable fidelity to give form your your proposal, but will reflect your skills with prototyping interactive systems. This could include:
  • A supporting conceptual design. This covers:
    • the goals and rationale for the approach;
    • low-fi and high-fi design materials (mockups, concept videos, diagrams, experience maps, sketches, etc.)
  • A documentation of your work and process
    • Prepare a demonstration of your tangible prototype
    • Take part in an in class review and critique of outcomes
    • Integrate feedback and prepare digitial documentation on the Gallery
    • Pose open questions and highlight challenges or failures encountered.

Final deliverables to be presented at the Crit/Review

Final Documentation Requirements:

Include a write up of the following:

  • Intent and Design: What is the intent of this project and how does it reflect a critical perspective? Write about the big ideas behind your project? What are the goals? Why did you make it? What are your motivations?

  • Prototype/Outcome: Describe your experience/working prototype: What did you create, how, etc.? What tools and technologies were involved? Include appropriate content and illustration (e.g. a concept video, a video of the device in operation, diagrams, code, etc.) How does it relate or build on existing work (provide acknowledgements or cite this work).

  • Precedents: Give examples of prior work, ideas and projects that influenced your design. What work informed this idea i.e. make links to the material in class and the cases/projects you uncovered in this module. Describe theory, concepts, and research from this module that relate to your outcome.

  • Process: Describe how you arrived out the outcome. What iterations, refinements, design decisions and changes were made? What challenges were encountered and how did you resolve them?

  • Open Questions and Next Steps: What remains unresolved (in the concept, implementation or conversation around this outcome)? What are the things we should pay attention to for future explorations? What questions about ‘spookiness’ or everyday technology did this exploration raise or generate? What questions reamin to be addressed?

  • Personal Reflection: Reflect on making this project. What did you learn? What would you do differently? Did you get where you wanted to? If not, why not? What do you need to get there, etc?

  • Attribution and References: Reference any sources or materials used in the documentation or composition.

Each of these sections should be no more than 200 words max. and well illustrated (images, videos, etc.)

For the Project Info’s goal description: it must be tweetable - summarise your outcome in no more than 140 characters