The semester is over, and it’s time to look back at everything that happened during the course of this project. I’m going to discuss the things that went wrong and how things got fixed (or didn’t), where the project changed and how it developed, and where I could advance the project in the future.
ITERATIVITY: UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
The iterative design process was a HUGE part of this project, thanks to the circuitry involved. I originally began with the Intsructables circuit, then moved to make my own, altered that one, altered it again, and altered it one more time to end up with what I have now. It was a long and difficult process – but I wouldn’t know as much about circuits as I do now without it. I had to teach myself all about circuit design (with the help of friends and online forums), and I feel accomplished coming out of this project with new knowledge. I designed this project as a way for me to try something I’ve never done before and to step out of my comfort zone, and I definitely feel that I accomplished this. I couldn’t have done it without the help and encouragement of my friends, family, online community, and Professor Murphy – the amazing UMD professor who was kind enough to lend me his personal oscilloscope. I could not have finished this project with the oscilloscope, and I’m so grateful to have found such supportive people and communities at UMD, at home, and online.
WHERE’D IT CHANGE?
The biggest change this project went through was its shift from being a reserach-y based project to being an art project. Originally, I was exerting too much control over the project and trying to get everything perfect. I had struggled from the beginning with developing a concept for the generative art, because every idea I had for it was very controlled and meticulous and precise, just like research. I think I tend to think in that mindset of precision and perfection, so my decision to shift the project towards art was a personal challenge. By focusing on the art aspect of the piece, I was able to develop a program with free range and autonomy that I didn’t control every aspect of, and I’m very happy with the way the whole project turned out.
However, some people at the capstone fair wanted to see the reserach-y project instead. It’s understandable to want to see that instead of an art project, and people seemed to be very confused by my choice to have the triggers in the program determined randomly. I explained to them my change to an art program and how that was my way of relinquishing control over the program. However, I do agree with what others were saying. I would really love to see this project develop further into being a mock data visualization program. While the outputs (I imagine, if used with this program) would probably not be as exciting or pretty, I think people would really enjoy being able to compare across brains. This isn’t as feasible with the way the program works now, but it could be developed in the future.
The project also shifted more towards open sourcing with the integration of Attraction/Repulsion by Chris Riebschlager as the base code. I think this really helped tie the project’s goal of utilizing open source material to create open source material, however, so I’m happy with the way things changed in that aspect.
And, of course, the circuit changed a lot via the course of this project. But you already know that. :)
WHERE COULD IT GO?
As mentioned above, this project could definitely live on and be developed into a more research or science based project for mock data visualization. However, this would require a greater understanding of the brain’s waves and range due to different stimuli and prompts, and would take a very long time to fully comprehend how the program should run and what should remain the same and what would change.
If I wish to continue on with this project, I’ll need to find another oscilloscope to be able to test my circuit if I make any changes. However, some of hte best improvemtns for this project should be made in the circuit area. I’d love to add frequencies into the mix with the use of a more precise circuit, as well as better voltage filtering and the addition of more electrodes and meaningful placement of those electrodes to see different areas of the brain and how they react. I would need better electrode paste for this, however, as the pastes I used were not sticky enough to stick into hair on the scalp.
I’m very happy with the way this project turned out. It was a very long and difficult process, but I knew this project was going to be a challenge when I designed it. Although I didn’t expect it to be such a challenge with the circuit, I’m glad it worked out the way it did because I know so much more than I did going in. It’s a good feeling knowing that I was able to accomplish something that I set up as a challenge for myself, and I’m happy to say I enjoyed completing this project. Seeing people’s excitement during sessions made all the frustrations worthwhile. I’m grateful for the help and support I received during this project, and I can’t wait to see if others (or myself) continue on with it. :)