FMP-2_10 ↓ The Assessment or Nothing

[EDITED] (This is the PREVIEW video, the final version is yet to be edited but should come soon!)

HOW TO – SURF WITH A MOUSE reveals the uncertainty behind (web-)surfing by materialising the mechanical mouse’s actions into tangible objects. These exaggerated objects covered in black symbolize the desire we seek in the glossy screen, while drawing the ambiguity between their anti-affordance and the context they are being re-used for. The physicality they add contrasts with the flatness of the screen and its gestural limitations. Let’s scroll, click, and move around, then. But, the question is – do we still actually (web-)surf? The genuine exploratory use of the Internet has been overshadowed by the never-ending feed and its algorithmic takeover. That’s why HOW TO – SURF WITH A MOUSE aims to layout the absurdity yet still exploratory aspect of digital culture, and its relationship with the addictiveness yet physicality of the gestures used.

The three objects, the sound, and the web, all is fairly finished and combined here. The objects are all painted in glossy black, I might spray another layer before the show though. I changed the CSS of the webpage to add a light cursor that fit the ‘discovery’ effect I wanted. You can see it here. The sounds are sampled via MAX/MSP (although edited through this video).

Here is my PE with all the research combined ↓

FMP-2_9 ↓ The Making or Nothing


In the last weeks, I was focused on the making solely. To do lists are vital!

Here are some pictures of the globe and the wheel part ↓

FMP-2_9 ↓ The Making or Nothing 5

Time to laser-cut the structure for the globe. The difficulty was the joints’ plan so that the structure itself doesn’t require any screwing.

FMP-2_9 ↓ The Making or Nothing 4

Now it is assembled and standing. The plastic ball I bought fits perfectly, and the only thing left to do is put the gyroscope sensor for its to work.

FMP-2_9 ↓ The Making or Nothing 3

I bought a wheel. The only solution I’ve found to connect its to the rotary encoder I’m using was to print a tube around the screw. I first 3D printed a tube to fit the screw, but the small part you can see on the top wasn’t fit enough to the rotary.

FMP-2_9 ↓ The Making or Nothing 1

Therefore, I thought of printing another tube that englobe both the first tube and the rotary.

FMP-2_9 ↓ The Making or Nothing 2

The inside is divided in two parts: one to fit the rotary, and one to fit the first tube I printed around the wheel’s screw.

FMP-2_9 ↓ The Making or NothingI guess it’s clearer with an actual picture of the rotary. At that time, it’s my second or third try? The print still wasn’t stable and straight, I missed it by barely 0.1 mm…! Anyways, it worked out in the end.

The tasks left to do are the pedals part and the painting. Gogogo.

FMP-2_8 ↓ The Concept or Nothing


Sketch Content 3 → I’m thinking of which newsfeed is the most interesting to extract.

Sketch Content 4 → GIFs always get to you. But I feel it isn’t doing anything much in terms of content for my project.

Arduino Prototype 2 → In the end, I focused on Reddit. I used their API and an infinite scroll script. The sub Shower Thoughts is pretty fun and fits my idea of the silly yet interesting web. Plus, I can easily adapt the CSS to fit the page to my visual concept.

The circuits were pretty straightforward to set-up as I already did some testing beforehand. I used the Mouse and Keyboard library of Arduino. Advised to be extra careful while uploading any code, I crashed my MBP a few times because it wouldn’t stop clicking… There might be some sorts of issues with the click, so I maybe won’t use it in the final version.

I guess it’s the last technical and concept plan…?

FMP-2_07 ↓ The Glossy or Nothing

It’s coming together ↓

I finalized the technical plan as you can see below, and delivered the final concept. I do feel it actually didn’t change much since the beginning – there were lot of iterations on the form though, and it did influence my content, but the content was anyhow the biggest challenge. Both parts had to be at the same time, in fact.

For the last part, I want to concentrate on the finishing touches. I want to not only think about the aesthetics, but also on their meanings. I recall I had a talk with Nicolas the other day about the physicality of the Internet, and its visual do matter. The screen is always produced as being glossy and shiny, and smartphones are often presented as objects of desire and are appealing. I want to challenge that ambiguity with my objects, being painted in black. [Because the screen is, well, black.]

Plus, instead of fabricating objects by myself as it was the case with the last sketch, I thought it would make much sense to use existing objects and hijack their functions – I was worried about the lack of meaning of my objects if I did fabricate them from scratch. I did hesitate though because of the eventual lack of visual coherence between the objects, but I will smoother everything out with the finish – aka the black paint. I still don’t want it to look to recycling my garage, ah. There would be different kind of black tones, I think – depending on the material I’m painting on. I’m also looking into an eventual cable color coding to add some peps to my “composition” – it’s actually a suggestion from my friend Osama.

I don’t know if I can call that scenography even, but I want to organize and layout my objects almost like I would practice graphic design within a grid, in fact. This is pretty important to me as a long-time practitioner, plus the fact that I also want to deliver a message with the overview installation. It’s also definitely inspired by surrealist and pataphysics installations and sculptures. With that in mind, I might be past the kitschy look I was a little afraid of.

Here are the mindmap for this time ↓

FMP-2_06 ↓ Web Surfing or Nothing

This week is another dilemma – the same actually, you don’t get rid of a problem by running away from its. 🙃 In the same day, I had a tutorial with Nicolas and Tobias, both with very divergent opinions about my project. Here is the mindmap, I’ll detail a bit afterwards ↓

I explained to Nicolas my concept to make exaggerated objects derived from the mechanical mouse’s functions – which is actually what I’ve started to get on last week with my sketch (5). The gestures’ embodiment within a known object aka the mouse offers my project a whole new framework. Nicolas is encouraging me to take that concept way further – into the scenography for instance, and to carefully think about each module and the overview’s cohesion, be its in the approach I’m taking and the apparence I’m setting down for.

As you might follow, I’m pretty stuck on the web content part. I feel like I’m already developing a concept that is a strong single layer about web surfing, and any web content’s layer on top on that might only end up as a bit too repetitive. This is why I proposed to make its only sound based using MAX/MSP – exaggerating the objects and the sounds solely, thus.

I’m already thinking of featuring samples from my friend Sima Kim’s EP IT’S A DREAM, TAKE CONTROL, for which I worked on a series of motion artworks. The sounds are overall pretty ambiguous, but I like the fact that it’s hard to discern what they are exactly. Its aesthetics somehow screams the physicality of the Internet, hence the visuals. Here is an extract of my works ↓

Although Nicolas was keen on the idea to have my project take a mechanical approach rather than a literal representation of the Internet, he still feel like it should at least have a visual feedback. Moreover, the sound part is solely thought to be able to work for several people at the same time as I did aim my project to be a participative project, but what if only a visitor is present?

Anyways, I’m sitting on its for a few days. Meanwhile, I need to get with the making ASAP. After the tutorials, I re-sketched up with keeping in mind the combination of the objects’ design and the sensors I might then use, following the recommendations of Nicolas ↓



Here is the 3D version ↓

FMP-2_07 ↓ The Glossy or Nothing 1

I’m not good at conceptualizing IRL at all, and I spent too much time worrying about its. That’s why I went to the 3D workshop the next day and asked for advice. The challenge here is definitely how to incorporate the Arduino’s circuits without being an obvious ‘hey, I’m an Arduino board!’.

Here is the first Arduino prototype, to get started on the feasibility. ↓

The pedal is definitely the most straightforward module – I just need to get some springs.

The wheel’s difficulty is how I connect its to the sensor – a rotary encoder would do the job better than a gyroscope then, it seems like a nightmare to hide that thing. (Here, I used a pot instead of a rotary encoder, though.)

For the ball’s board, I tested out the hall effect sensor with a magnet ball. I’m not convinced by that at all – it would need to have a double-bottom + a trick for the balance function. It seems like a rather complicated module that is shaped by its contraints rather than its function…! I’m also worried on the fact that it lacks meaning, since the two others modules might be hijacked off their initial functions but are still familiar objects – thus, they are recognizable and easy to comprehend.


FMP-2_05 ↓ The Mouse or Nothing

While I sketched up my last idea, I had two words in mind – Materialize and Decentralize. Indeed, I’m materializing gestures into physical objects. And yes, I’m purposely decentralizing them as a critique against the over-functional screen, where you can basically do everything – even coffee! (Technically it’s not the screen but the phone case there, but you got the gist) ↓

I wanted my gestural objects to be rather straightforward, so I’m going back to the basics. Every gestures I’m materializing are basically taken apart from the mechanical computer mouse. Hence – How To (Web-)Surf w/ a Broken Mouse?  ↓

So I have the wheel, the pedal and the ball board. I did some quick research about the history of each, as I’m trying to further down their concepts. I also found a pretty trippy explanatory video about how the mechanical mouse actually works ↓

And a chronology of the mouse (in French, sorry but images are enough) →

As for the content and following up what I wrote last time about the sense of discovery, I thought about what platform I actually liked to spend time on. Youtube is a great choice, yet to confirm though – what would the objects bring in term of navigation? I’m thinking of the meaning that I want to give to the gestures / objects: the wheel will scroll back in time, and the board will move around by geolocalisation.

Problem I have is that as I’m looking into the API, it’s actually harder than expected to produce the results that I want (the use of time and geolocalisation are pretty tricky). I can’t seem to use the criterias of search without typing any key words, but I don’t want to alter the results with my own idea of Youtube. In that instance, I found this Random Youtube website that does that job. 🙃

The pedals also definitely don’t bring anything much, except PAUSE and NEXT. I really oughta re-think about that, my project is starting to look like the next WiiMote. 😅 I also thought about an exhibition system where the screen wouldn’t be too obvious so not as distracting – the idea of its lying on the ground remains. A projection would be too big and also distract the attention, while I want that attention full on the objects, and the sense of discovery to come while you peek at the box-iPad.

Even though I’m still unsure about the feasibility of the content, my research is also evolving through my practice – hence it’s about time I get to physical-prototyping. I borrowed a potentiometer for the wheel, and two buttons for the pedals. Gareth advised me to use a gyroscope sensor for the ball board – it won’t actually detect the ball but the board’s movements, basically giving out the illusion it’s the ball being detected.

Last week’s suggestion was that I will exclusively focus on the mechanical part, but I have a hard time visualizing my project without its content. However, I really can’t seem to bring out anything truly satisfying – my frustration is talking here. Tomorrow I have tutorials, let’s see how it’s gonna turn out.

FMP-2_04 ↓ The Machinery or Nothing

This week is a dilemma.

While digging the Custom Search API and its possibilities, I thought about what web surfing meant to me – an aimless re-creative re-creation. But how relevant is it to re-create that same experience with visuals? I’m afraid the audience won’t find anything surprising in its, especially if they aren’t digging that type of imagery. That’s why I started to think about an end-goal rather than an aimless output, and I came up with this Wikipedia prototype ↓

As you might know or not, if you always click on the first link of any Wikipedia article, you’ll end up reaching the Philosophy article. There is even an article about its. While I was editing this video, I instantly knew that it wasn’t working for my project, but I still think there is something about an end-goal that I should take account of.

My another worry is that it might be too literal to take the WWW as my content. Maybe I should think of another type of visual universe? I presented my dilemma to Eva and Nicolas during this Monday’s tutorial, plus the gestures / objects I’m thinking of for now. As always, here is the mindmap + the sketch ↓

As I was hesitating between these two options, they told me that I should look up more to a third option where I wouldn’t focus on any digital content – at least not with that type of aesthetics, or it can always be used as the source. As my objects are taking their importance, I should concentrate on the machinery I’m aiming to create. The pianocktail from L’Écume des Jours is a good example ↓

I guess my worries were founded. Although I do feel lost, it’s better than to keep going in a direction that I actually don’t enjoy. The day after, I had a tutorial with Nicolas. Here is the mindmap ↓

We talked about what I actually wanted people to learn from the Internet. As I talked about the aimless re-creation at the beginning of this post, I think I’m going towards the discovery side of its. The exploration is only aimless in its process but always ends up with the discovery. How do I re-create the feeling of discovery through my content?

Nicolas showed me few examples of projects that materialized the Internet. For instance, the Telluric Telecospe by alumni Simone Ciocoiu is an interesting approach of the sense of discovery using Youtube. We also talked about the possible use of Twitter’s API, but I’m considering others options for now. I don’t think Twitter suits my message. This is far to be my favorite platform – imo it’s over-cluttered to make sense of anything happening in there.

We also talked about how the Internet is somewhat physical – we aren’t swiping in the air but still on a screen, right!, and derived about the lack of visibility through that global network. The question of Internet’s transparency is controversial in the age of mass surveillance. Reminds me of the book/essay/fanzine Black Transparency by Metahaven, which I can only recommend.

Last point – I might go back to the pataphysics, which I actually mentioned in my first mindmap. Time to re-read my Thesis research a bit!

FMP-2_03 ↓ R, G, B or Nothing

It’s gonna be a packed post, you are warned.

Firstly – I didn’t mention it in last week’s post, but I had an informal crit with part of the cohort.

We talked about our respective projects, and advised each other for the concept and its execution. We also started to talk about the space’s plan – I have learnt that we actually have the Well Gallery, which is great! It also helps for my project to know which space I can use. I was suggested the space below the stairs at the Well Gallery, which is a pretty interesting area that I can maybe exploit.

Nothing is firmly planned for now, but it’s good to know where we are going – not only individually, but as a group putting our FMP-s together.

After that, I updated my sketch and here it is what it looks like now ↓

Following-up was the show meeting with Ben Branagan and Tobias. The meeting served as estimating each project’s technical needs.

Mine should be pretty straightforward in its execution. I explained that I’m gonna have analog controllers linked to a ground-projection – purposely to create an anti-familiar environment. The difficulty might lie in the ground-projection, thus I should put a distance to avoid its to be obstruct. I was also thinking of 3D print the objects, but advice is that I should think of the haptic – hence, use wood.

Although the execution is somewhat estimated, the form and the content are yet to be defined. This is exactly the focus of next day, as I had a tutorial with Tobias. Advice is that I should definitely focus on the content first, the rest will follow later. Well, form follows function so… Touché. We talked about how I could use visuals to re-create the web-surf experience, and he showed me references such as I Am Google by Dina Kilberman.

As usual, I mindmapped the main points + some others I didn’t detail here ↓

I added a point that made my friend Osama. I actually regularly call my friends to talk about my FMP – pretty much after each tutorial to reflect out loud, and the point he made was pretty valid so I highlighted that here. Even though I should focus on the content then followed up by the form, I better have a concise idea of the gestures – at least.

Last point – from my tutorial with Tobias, I imagined a Google gradient Images experience using RGB as variables for the controllers ↓

FMP-2_03 ↓ First Tutorials 4

I got this idea from Pete’s suggestion last week, and from a visual experiment I did some time ago ↓

🎶 slugabed − I Luv U & I Miss U I'M GRADIENT

A post shared by S S S Â N (@s_s_s_a_n) on

I talked with Gareth about the feasibility to use Google Images API with RGB variables. The API isn’t updated anymore so I better use the Custom Search API. He told me that it might be tricky, except if I cheat with CSS. That’s what I thought, the options seems to be limited to pre-chosen colors.

By cheating, I kinda lose the meaning in aimlessly surfing around. I’m thinking about time and geolocalisation as it seems possible with most APIs, and it is also much more meaningful and relevant on the WWW, rather than trying to satisfy my aesthetics. In the end, what meaning holds web surfing for me?

FMP-2_02 ↓ The Gestural Experience or Nothing

I met with my mentor Pete Wallace, we had loads of catch-up to do about our respective projects.

Prior to that meeting, I didn’t voice out my concept at all. Thus, I was pretty insure about its clarity. Turns out that Pete got exactly what I was trying to explain (aka what I previously wrote → “Bring corporality to the experience of web surfing“), and it definitely helped clearing up my thoughts. I got so many ideas while I was kind of stuck by myself. Because of his background with projection and moving image, he also advised me a lot on the technical part. After that, I sketched out few ideas for the execution – as you can see below-low.

We also talked about my Ars’ project, and my interest in the relationship between sounds and physical gestures. Pete e-mailed some of his colleagues whose line of works could intertwine with mine. I exchanged a bit with Benji Fox – he advised me on binary sound, and sent me a few references of contemporary modular synths with interesting control gestures. I particularly liked Landscape ↓

In the same vein, I also went to the Music Hackspace Artist Talk at Sommerset House this Monday, with Kacper Ziemianin presenting its LightSeq ↓

In the age where everything is pretty much doable within your sole laptop, the experience of playing // watching the performance still matters.

Although my FMP might not follow that musical path – I’m better off concentrating on the visual part, I still can definitely link my interest in the gestural experience into web surfing.

Anyways – this is always useful, particularly in the case I’m planning to improve my Ars’ project. I’m somewhat trying to accomplish a cohesive line of works, and I can’t really disregard my own interest about sounds. I know it shouldn’t be forced though, so I’m backing up a little bit to reflect and solve that visual content part first.

I have to admit I’m stuck on that part. 🙃 The only thing I know is that I want to re-create a web universe, it’s plenty vague enough. I didn’t talk about it much with Pete, though he gave me a few ideas for the variables I could use, such as a RGB detection.

As usual, I mindmapped – and simplified everything out ↓

Here are the sketches ↓

FMP-1_05 ↓ The Cyberflâneur:

Writing a thesis is a pretty structured task. Here is mine, it might change in its finalization though ↓

Here is the Google Slides I used for the Formative Assessment we had last week ↓

For some reasons I was really stressed out, I definitely didn’t manage my time well. My explanations were a bit in a rush, I missed out a lot of parts. Me caught blabblering, I apparently said “it’s like, whatever, I tried, basically, etc.” a lot ↓