haemiyoon.comCVHaemi Yoon(~2008)Graduate Media Design ProgramArt Center College of Design

Restless Freetime: The Second Nature of Objects(Thesis Website)
Thesis Blog

Knowledge Sharing Workshop (2010)

Week 2: Drawing / Mapping / Diagramming

Discovery through drawing

image caption: Nolli

Either create or re-create an important image / drawing / diagram for your thesis project. You must be critical about your choice of medium, format, and technique - and how each of your decisions supports the position and intentions of your thesis work.
I wanted to create a visualization of how much free time electronic objects had, with an intention to compare them to each other, hoping for a serendipitous discovery.

Electronic Profiling: In my attempt to start crystallizing the characteristics and insights towards creating a project, I made some cards with hand-drawn illustrations, free time per week, whether or not they have power running when not in use, and unique characteristics.

My goal is not about simply anthropomorphizing electronic objects but exposing their free time and the behaviors that take place during that time.

Key insights
Electronic objects have free time! When they are not in-use and are powered, they have the potential to enjoy hobbies or other activities. Speculating what objects can do in their free time and gaining insight from their "work time" characteristics can be critical in synthesizing a tangible design project.

The following are some visualizations of "free time" I have done to push the cards from above into a more rigorous stepping stone into the next step.


Week 3: Storytelling. Fiction and knowledge production.

Storytelling to illustrate, understand, visualize, explore

For this assignment, I've written a short 5-chapter story to illustrate my ideas about the objects I wanted to create as well as talk more about the objects I've characterized during Week 2.
I Human.

Ding dong, ding dong...
She wakes up with a sudden twitch at the sound of a doorbell. Is someone at the door? What time is it? As her vision came into focus, she looks up and looks at her alarm clock. It is sitting there mimicking the voice of her doorbell. It's 6:45. So today it's the doorbell, eh? Her left eye still closed, she hits the snooze button and falls back asleep. "Give me just 10 minutes...10..."

...and today the...AND HE'S ALMOST AT THE FINISH...all the single ladies~ all the single ladies~....
This time the alarm clock turned into a radio that is searching through so many channels in such little time. She lets out a helpless sigh. It's 6:55. She knows it without looking at the clock again. She slowly moves her hand over the alarm clock and turns it off. Soon after, sits up muttering, "See you tomorrow morning." She then stretches her right arm and grabs her cellphone to see if there are any new messages, not that she's expecting any.

She likes organizing the refrigerator so that when she opens it, the first thing she sees is breakfast material. Oh how her face brightens up with the first gulp of fresh and cold orange juice in the morning! After tossing a slice of bread in the toaster, she walks over to the bathroom.

Buzz...goes the toothbrush, and hum...went my blow dryer.

What's the traffic to work like today? Every morning right before going to work and right before leaving work, she checks her email and the traffic. Really though, why don't more people to that? Today she'll take the 710 then the 105.

It's 7:48 already. I guess no jam for her today. She hastily grabs the toast out of the toaster and hurries out to her car. Her car, where she'll be mechanically driving for the next 30 minutes.

II Conductor.

The door slams shut as she walks out. We only hear silence. We start getting used to the silence. We hear little clicks, rustles, and sweeps here and there. What is it? Where is it coming from?

We looking for any sign of movement in the room. Immediately our attention goes towards the wall. A thermostat comes into view. Its display is no longer legible. Instead, we see shapes, codes, symbols, hieroglyphs? It appears to be thinking. Is it thinking? Or is it sending signals somewhere else? We start comparing the pattern with the room, looking for synchronized movements, sounds or changes of any sort.

We see a big square on the screen as the fan turns off.
We see an upside-down "R" on the screen as the UV sanitizer turns on.
We see blinking white light as the screen on the landline phone blinks as well.
There's definite communication going on in this space.
What is this thermostat? Is everything in the room listening to it? Or are they just sending signals to it? Is the thermostat a conductor? Or is the conductor the control center for this house?

We look at every little movement in the room. We watch how these electronic objects communicate to each other, we study how they express, and think about how we know this. No one tells us. There are no explanations. We observe and know. We're so much alike. Or are we really.

III The Forgotten.

We look for things that are not visible from outside. We open the nearest closet. There's a vacuum cleaner. It's yellow. It's big. It's a little smelly. It hasn't been outside for a week or so. She's a busy person. It's neglected. It's bored. It looks sad. It likes being outside, going to every corner of this house. It longs for that. It knows that she'll be back for it when the house is dirty.

What if I made the house dirty?
What if I spent this time so that I could go out sooner?

It starts doing what it can do. What does it have? Some trash that was not emptied the last time it was outside. A motor. Air holes. It starts blowing air out exactly the opposite way it sucks trash in. It is spitting out trash. Air blows on it. Trash moves towards the door of the closet. There is a quarter-inch gap. It goes out the door. The vacuum cleaner will also go out the door soon enough.

IV Brothers.

We move to the kitchen and open the cupboard. They're always side by side, the Food Processor and the Blender.

We don't even know why they're two different entities. They do the same things. They chop, they grind, they break things into little pieces. They are brothers at best. We do however see some differences despite their uncanny similarities. Even from appearance, the blender is much more colorful. He is used for dealing with fruit, vegetable, and dairy. By nature he is sweeter and someone carefree. The Food Processor is used for chopping garlic, meat, and onion. He is the reliable one that will always do the grunt work.

We hear things. Little clicks and clacks. The buttons on both machines are taking turns being pressed and released. The rhythmical sound from the machines are surprisingly soothing. Who says songs from machines can't be as soothing as that made from birds? We enjoy the harmony of the blender brothers.

V Together.

She's back. She seems tired but happy about being back home. Did something good happen at work? maybe a new client? She takes a shower and starts making dinner. She take material enough for 2 servings. Is someone coming today?

As she busily moves in her kitchen, we hear different sound and we start smelling delicious scents. Many different action is taking place. She's making food. She's using different tools to get the job done. The timer that was rewinding itself all day out of boredom is actually needed now. As its ticking sound goes on, she moves around the kitchen still making noises. We enjoy the harmony of the kitchen crew.

Ding dong.
This time, someone is here. Her friend. They start cooking together while laughing and chatting about their lives.
"...so then he looked at me and I thought..."
"...I don't know how to show it to my boss..."
"...that's so funny!"
Everything in the kitchen is working. Except for the land-line phone we see at the corner of our eyes.

What is it doing? Is it bored? Does it feel neglected? We see a red light turn on. Is someone leaving a message? Did it ever ring?

The counter on the phone changed from "00" to "01".
"You have ONE new message."

We see the woman walk over to the phone. She pressed a couple of grey buttons. "New message, Seven twenty-one. PM."
"...so then he looked at me and I thought..."
"...I don't know how to show it to my boss..."
"...that's so funny!"

What a desperate piece of technology.


Week 4: Moving Images. Authoring Social Media

Moving Images. Authoring Social Media

Imagining this project to be the introduction to my thesis exhibition, I wanted to communicate my definition of "free time of electronic objects."

Here's the rough draft I've shared during class.

Here's the final video I've shown during the exhibition.


Week 5: Modes of Writing. Instrumentalizing References.

Creating a bibliography that is not just a bibliography

This assignment asked to create a reference guide that not only lists references but also illustrate the relationship between the references. I've simulated a museum/theme park guide map which is modeled after the exhibition space I have in mind.

Each "floor" is a theme of discipline I have explored during my thesis journey and they are linked with some notable quotes, footnotes, and a 1~2 line response of what I think / was able to think about because of that quote.

The above-ground floors are themes that are more obvious and the ones that are shown as the basement are ideas I've dabbed on and are definitely the ground for my thesis but are not easier to read from looking at my project right away.


Week 6: Exhibition.

Histories and strategies of design

image caption: Musei Wormiani Historia

I've taken this opportunity to create a close-to-real experience of my imaginative thesis exhibition by creating a mock-up and using photo montages to visualize and communicate what was only in my mind.


Thesis Experiments (2009~2010)

Solace of Our Imperfect Lives(2009)

thinking through the POV of the robots

In my attempt to dig deeper and figure out what's working and what's not so far, I took my "Personal Life of an Electronic Object" experimental series and turned it into a book.

The first section is a memoir of my thesis journey so far, written from the idea of seeing myself as an imperfect piece of electronic. It was printed on 12"x9" pulp paper.

The second section is the part that was printed on tabloid extra newsprint. It contains three short stories written about the "Personal Life of an Electronic Object" machines from the perspective of the machines. Each story is accompanied with corresponding photographs illustrating their form and environment.

The last section contains a quote from Kevin Kelly's "7th Kingdom of Life," which is put to tie in the former two chapters.

I've kept any wrinkles and discoloration, both which I am able to call "imperfections" because it for one, lets every book be unique, and two, fits into the theme, "perfectly."

This project gave me a great chance to reflect on my whole term and objectively and subjectively analyze what I've earned from it. This may not have been the most productive exercise that would directly push myself to the next level but it was definitely a nice opportunity to meditate and clean up my thoughts.

View more images of the booklet
Zoomed in View of "Imperfection" Unique to Each Book Due to Brittle Newsprint

The "Imperfect" Prints that Couldn't be a Part of Any Book


Personal Life of an Electronic Object (2009)

servo experiments

Paper Cutter

What if a robot had a personal life, a hobby, or a routine that people can't understand? My original intention was to make this function be easily swapped with that of the Mischievous Fan's. I am still thinking that this would just be the hobby part of its life.

Let's say here's a vacuum cleaner. By day, it's a useful tool for people, and by night it is an extensive paper cutter? By the speed of motion and scale of the paper, it definitely seems like "work" than "fun" which is interesting because the viewer can easily empathize with it. It does seem like the robot-version of Charlie's dad, the toothpaste-top-putter from the "Chocolate Factory." At least that's my story.

I want to keep this minimal use of anamorphic behavior to cause empathetic stir along with a little bit of mystery. What if there were to be a version where maybe three of these little robots are working together...making mistakes, but definitely obsessed with getting this odd job done. I do want to add an element of interaction with other forms of life though...maybe it responds to us? light? wind? moonlight? It could be fun if it was like a werewolf, turning into something out of the ordinary at its own ritualistic time.


I've been wanting to make an electronic being to illustrate an amicable relationship with something other than people during their "down-time." Since my "Paper Cutter," I've been wondering if I could make another demo using more than one servo in an interesting way. What are the relationships between these two servos? Do they look like one entity or two? I'm still imagining these functions to be a secondary feature of a functional and practical piece of electronic. This would only be, let's say a cassette player and a blender, or two spindles on a sewing machine who are maybe doing work or enjoying a hobby together.

I can't help but to think that the first two attempts, where the system malfunctioned, seem more interesting than the latter... although I did find it interesting that the "amicable" relationship between the pink stringer and green stringer evolved to a competitive one. I found it interesting that the green gave up turning until the pink was done because it got knotted up with the other. I feel like the very pre-planned, mechanic system showed some mistakes, yields, and "imperfections" which made the process seem more humanistic.

Balloon Player

This is a machine that illustrates the personal life of a surveillance camera. When there are people around, it is doing its job, recording people but when there's no one around it is watching a jellyfish in a tank (perhaps a pet of his own) and playing with its balloons. The more active the jellyfish is, the more active the balloons will move.

First of all, through these three projects, I suggest the line between "play" and "labor". I think this is a little more obvious with "Balloon Play" just because balloons already embodies a strong connotation of playfulness. I think there's no question that the balloons seem like it is being "played with" but do the machines seem like they're having fun or working? I'm wondering if the balloon to machine ratio, the servo's speed, and the video the machine is "watching" helps this? I think in order to show a stronger feeling of a machine "playing," I could try to make the balloons smaller than the machine.

The perspective of the machine(s) is something I wanted to comment on with this experiment. I'm suggesting that a machine can watch a pet(or video, if that makes it more interesting), a machine can process what it's seeing, a machine is able to play with, and affect other things in the world. Maybe rather than "work" or "play," the balloons just show its state of mind? We could definitely see all this in the expressions of a person.

I also want to comment on what people may see in this, for all its metaphors have meaning if and only if people look at it. I'm pulling in ideas such as "why do we like watching/owning pets?" The machine is watching a live animal in a tank. This activity may seem boring, meaningless, unreasonable but hey, we do it too. We even pay to go to aquariums. Why do we even stare at pets anyways? Also, balloons. We don't do anything much with them. We don't play games, talk to them or much more than use them for decoration. But there's a definite fascination for balloons. We love just having them floating around. Maybe we see them as pets? maybe we just envy that they can float? maybe it's their fragility, flexibility, or ability to quantify air? The machine "plays" the balloons so that the 16 balloons would create a mass that is constantly changing, supporting their ability to make mass out of thin air. in that case, does watching a jellyfish in a tank not make much sense? All these are questions a person would ask by watching the balloons, reflecting on the behavior of the machine.


Notice Me, Follow Me, Pay Attention to Me (2009)

one experiment a day for a week

Notice me #1: Cabinet Life

What if an electronic had a life of its own? When I'm not using it, when I'm not around, during that "down time," what do they do?
What would they want to do?
What could they do?

Here I have a little cabinet with a lock. However, the cabinet is quite smart. It'll listen to music, party all day long until someone approaches and tries to use him. Then all of a sudden, he'll act like a normal file cabinet with a lock...normal...I guess it's not that weird that a cabinet reveals the key hole just to help you out a little?

From this project, I realized that I am liking the idea of a "personal life" that happens during the down-time of an object. My thought is that if the objects we have had a life of its own other than when it was "working for" us, let's say, it interacts with plants or animals, a sign of its own ecosystem without people, maybe we can accept them as its own kingdom of life. I understand that it is us human, who will think that these pieces of electronics have a personal life or a hobby. I wonder if I could expose their definition of a "personal life" without having to "design" one and assign it like "god". So here comes back the question I had when I was talking to Norman a while ago. Can man-made nature be as natural as nature? I believe so. Hopefully I can convince other people with this same thought at the end of my thesis year.

Follow me #1

As I had more mentor meetings, I realized that I couldn't just work on the theory and present good work in the end. In any case, I do have to know how to design objects so that it appears to be conscious, attentive, simply alive. Here's a little set up where anything, even a rolled up piece of plastic bag seems "alive" with the power of technology. Even imperfect behaviors such as losing sight of me and going back to a default position because of the limitations of its visible range plays a big role. The object is following me to the best of its ability.

Follow me #2: Digital Clock

Does it ever feel like time is chasing you? Does it pressure you? Do you appreciate it? Does it annoy you? Does it motivate you? Since I have been working with a lot of clocks, I have had people commenting on them, wondering if I was intentionally trying to stress myself out by owning multiple clocks. As people who are in the studio for hours at a time, often feeling like we haven't achieved as much as we should have, we do feel like time is against us. I think if the scale of this clock was bigger or if the clock was replaces with the computer's cursor, the impact would've been bigger. Either way, the simple act of attaching the idea that time is chasing us has an effect on what we think. The clock seems pushy, the clock seems to hate us instead of being a "servant" who is trying to let us know the time ASAP.

Follow Me #3: A TV Set For You

What if a set of electronics followed your movements? This scenario is a very practical solution for someone who would want to watch TV while cooking in the kitchen or cleaning up the apartment. In this case, the electronic pieces are moving to serve you. I guess I could make it so that it would do the exact opposite too. It would make a lot of difference though with one little change! I wonder why it's more interesting to wonder what would happen if electronics would disobey or show child-like tantrums. Is it the fact that it is unexpected? I'm worried that it would only be an interesting thing for 5 minutes. I want my final thesis piece to be useful yet shows a personality of some sort. I wonder if even if I don't directly aim for an interesting imperfection in a piece of technology, it would still let us have the "generosity of the spirit" to embrace imperfection in technology.

Pay Attention to me #1: The Mischievous Fan

What if an electronic had a mind of its own, a goal of its own, and a personality of its own? I am imagining the object in this super quick mock-up video to have a different function that we need. Maybe we need to keep this object around but it just has a quirky nature that may disrupt our productivity. I think this is more interesting to think about than just something that messed with us and it was its sole function. What if this was my computer monitor? Lets imagin that a computer monitor would work perfectly the way it does now but just had a ridiculously powerful fan to cool itself off? It would be impossible to do any projects where we had to cut little pieces of paper. Maybe it would be too cold to work around during winter. Maybe the cool-off function only happened once the owner leaves the scene. Would it still be worth it to keep? I guess this would be an imperfect piece of electronic, although it may seem more like a "poorly designed" piece of electronic than it just being defected. One of the limitations I had set up for myself was to not make design something that was just "poorly designed" or "poorly performing." Ah....what to do...

Pay Attention to Me #2: Notice Notifier

This piece also definitely tries to pressure its owner, reminding an important due date, partially stressing or cheering one on. I guess it would differ according to the note. If I were to imagin that it was a digital notpad that followed my visual range around, notifying a new e-mail, or a reminder sent by my mother, or just a simple note congratulating my birthday, the context completely changes my emotional response. The mixture of serving me for my own good and having a pushy personality are both some recurring themes among this week's exploration. It seems like a very psychological approach, focusing more on the interactive experience compared to the "alarm clock tree" idea, which is a surface-oriented, formal approach towards giving a personality to objects.


Clocks From a Tree (2009)

critical thinking through making

After having adviser meetings in week8, I started thinking about developing a methodology using what I have so far. One is the question of "why people can't accept imperfection in technology" and the other is "how can we avoid the uncanny valley while causing empathy using objects."
I came to the conclusion of trying out "thinking from the perspective of technology" and try to design pieces of technology that would look at "imperfect" things in this world and empathize with them. We've been trying to empathize with technology but how about turning the table around for a change? Would technology inconvenience the user for the benefit of himself? is man-made nature as natural as nature?

*image explanation
left to right: people, animals, plants, nature, technology
top to bottom: albinoism, imbalance, birthmarks, miniaturism, paranoia, personification

I realized that with the considerations illustrated above, I was dealing with purely physical factors.

What if we could grow electronics off trees?
They would all be different shapes, sizes, colors, textures, balanced, off-balance, too big, too small, and even just right......would we appreciate their "defects"?

Facelift #1: In a circular mold.

In order to try out my "electronic on a tree" idea, I was desperately looking for gourds, vines, and different plants. While searching for ways to make an "alarm clock tree," I came across some barriers and decided to use a technique called "vacu-forming" in order to give a new skin to alarm clocks.

As seen above, the mold would make different skins every time I made a vacu-formed skin.

Because the process embraces defects, irregularities, and imperfection, can the owner of this object be more embracing of the clock's irregularities? I think so. This may be a little closer to the "customized" or "DIY" feel but it does have similar traits as apples being all different even off the same tree, or pottery being different when hand-made.

Facelift #2: Without a Mold

Without having any outer mold, I was able to embed electronic parts on a flat surface, which I then cut to make a shape that would orient the LCD screen to my liking. Flexible skin for an alarm clock!

I think the flat initial state was more interesting in terms of its form because it was so elaborate and reflective of the process. It revealed the vacu-formed back-side a little better than when it was molded into a shape.

The modified version is more embracing of the current DIY culture. Cutting and shaping to my own liking... I think it only assured me that DIY is not what I want to investigate for my thesis.


Who Stole the Hand? (2009)

critical thinking through making

Here's a clock that's missing the "minute" hand.
The "hour" hand lets you know the approximate hour and minute and the "second" hand lets you know that it's still "alive" and going.

My original goal was to cause emotional stirs but taking parts out of objects. In this case, the minute hand is a physical piece which also has a functional reason of existence. It did seem like people stopped and stood there just to stare at the clock for a while but in the end, the comment I got was that this was a "minimalistic" approach of designing, which is slightly different from my initial inquiry of "being able to accept imperfection in technology."


Irregular Alarm Clocks (2009)

From the basis that I wanted to explore with objects that had subtracted functions to create interesting interactions / emotional responses from people, I grabbed a couple of alarm clocks from target and just cracked them open.

Irregular Alarm Clock #1: I only make sense at 8:08am

The mark on the face of the LCD, the broken electric connections, and the missing buttons on the top are its imperfections. This alarm clock makes no sense all day long but when it's time to wake up, 8:08am, it suddenly knows how to talk?! I noticed many people look at their alarm clocks only when they wake up and change the minute marks on their alarm clocks to fool themselves in the morning. So then why not make the time illegible to begin with?

Irregular Alarm Clock #2: I fan you instead of yelling at you.

Here's an alarm clock inspired by my grandmother.
She would have a hard time waking me up any other way but once she opened the windows to let the cold air in and on top of that, take my blanket away, man. Sleep time was over.
I've tried attaching a computer fan and a motor(separately) to the alarm clock to make it fan me when it hit the alarm time. It didn't exactly work as I wanted, but the idea is there I guess. Wouldn't you want a fan blowing at your face instead of that annoying alarm sound in the morning? I'd be a lot less grumpier.

Irregular Alarm Clock #3: Ding dong, wake up time is here!

If you thought someone was at the door, would you wake up faster? I would.
I also, I wake up when I hear a cell phone ring tone.
Feeling someone's presence may be the reason for both.

Irregular Alarm Clock #4: Cuz I'm that special

Let's say your alarm clock came in a soundproof box. Just the speaker is outside of the box. What is the attitude of this alarm clock? Can you hear it say "I'm gonna wake you up but I don't have to hear anything" or "don't break me when you're grumpy in the morning?"


Attached to Imperfect Objects (2009)

Initial design research

As a kick-off project into my thesis direction on imperfect technology, I've given out a survey to my friends outside of the studio. I got a total of 29 people to answer my survey in 3 days.

The survey asked:
1. What are 3 objects/spaces/etc you have an emotional attachment to despite/because the fact that it is imperfect / broken / burnt / not in mint condition? (no people or pets please.) Also, give a quick explanation as to why you chose them.
2. If none of your answers was a piece of electronic, please name one and give a short reason / story behind its importance.

I got a total of 100 objects and 51 species of objects in response. I then went into analyzing the survey.

I was able to identify 7 definitions of imperfection though the survey;
1. old
2. used
3. broken in: the object has adapted to me
4. broken
5. the object is in an incomplete state / set: pieces of the set is missing
6. ephemeral: it's something that we can enjoy glimpses of
7. risky
(see photo #5)

There were also keywords that were reappearing in different answers. The top 5 were:
kid(and its synonyms),
always(and its synonyms),
*not in order of amount of usage

I've divided the answers into number of responses/species according to technology vs everything else. My biggest finding is that the number of responses that named a piece of technology was nearly twice the number of everything else but the number of species was the opposite. 30% of the interviewees didn't name a piece of technology as their answers in the first question.

At the end I had to wonder if imperfection was taken as is in these beloved objects.
I was surprised to see that the responses contained slightly more answers that contained objects people loved BECAUSE of the imperfection and not despite of it.

I have a lot to take out of this survey. The different definitions of imperfection, the face that there are less species of technology people name as objects they are attached to, and the idea of "because / despite of imperfection" seem like three starting points for my next exploration.

Click here to view the inner pages


Everything Spins (2009)

Center of motion

As one starting point for my thesis, I started looking into the idea of the "orderly chaos." I once read a detective novel where the murderer was completely unpredictable and fit no prior profile whatsoever. The detective, of course, saves the day at the end but he mentioned that the murderer makes complete sense in his own head, just not in ours. The murderer's seeming chaotic actions, as the protagonist puts it, is just an orderly chaos that we can't seem to understand. Ever since then, I've been in love with the phrase, "orderly chaos" and recently remembered it and decided to adapt it.

After reading about the "tea leaf paradox," which was a linked example under the wikipedia entry for "spontaneous order," I've gotten obsessed with the idea of spinning objects. I like how all the "chaotic shapes" end up with an "orderly pattern" due to a scientific reasoning of "the center of gravity."

The photographs have been shot at different shutter speeds and as Norman Klein puts it, this project "slows down our vision to reveal something we could miss so easily." I like that.

During the thesis pecha kucha, Tim Durfee advised us to try and make a final project with whatever experiments we did in the past 5 weeks. I've been wanting to make a poster or something out of the orderly chaos experimental photographs and finally got to making them into a fan-out printed piece. The spinning motion in the photograph is mimicked in the form that it's in and this has actually been a great way to show the details I liked in the photographs. Because I took this extra step, I do feel like the work I put into this project didn't go into the trash and was left as an artifact towards my final thesis project.


Thesis Statement #1: Research (2009)

In search of ways to introduce technology that are loved for their imperfection.

Preface: Growing up with a dad who was a mechanical engineer and a mother who was a genetic engineer, I was opened to the those two worlds, or maybe just the world of science a little sooner than the average child. I've used a computer since I was 4 years old, which is unusual for someone my age but not so much for kids growing up nowadays. I know a 2-year-old who knows how to play games on my iPod touch, his sister, age 4, opened up the camera software on my computer and asked me to take pictures of us. She also knew how to scrub through a video file on computers. Their level of emotional connections, operational familiarity, and skillful handling of technology is very impressive. Like these kids, I've also had the pleasure of opening my technological eyes at an early age, playing games like Reader Rabbit and Oregon Trail. I remember making Valentine's day cards on a computer in second grade and printing them out--of course I had to re-print because I had spelled "Valentine's" wrong. I believe it was some sort of an early edition word processor with a couple of clip art.

My early adapting to higher technology such as computers, VCRs, video game consoles, and many random pieces of electronics at my dad's lab has given me a somewhat of a unique stance when it comes to topics like 'emotional technology,' 'mechanism meets emotions' or 'communicating with or through technology'. It seems like this is different from robotics or science fiction related fantasies. To me, emotional technology or emotion design is very real.

Context: There has been many advances in what we are able to do with technology, and many have created projects and objects utilizing them in efficient, interesting, and even controversial ways. The more I am exposed to recent developments, the more I seem to be witnessing not-so-smart or not-so-ethical use of high technology. People being captured in the virtual world, sushi-making machines that replace sushi masters and their craftsmanship, a USB-enabled flower which would dance when you get mail, computer characters you can develop emotional bonds with, mirrors with widgets you are supposed to stare at when you are shaving, and t-shirts that could let you feel hugs through actuators triggered by information sent over the internet... And as more and more people are exposed to many forms of technology and are becoming familiar with them, it seems like it's about time we thought about the consequences of our inventions before we just made things just because we can. As Norman Klein says it, it's about time we took a break and slow down our vision. What's working? What's not? Why? What are we trying to achieve? What makes our lives easier? more interesting? What happens when there is too much ease in different tasks? or interest in one world? What makes some machines so "odd?" so un-acceptable?

Methodology: Because of the utilitarian reason of birth technology holds, it is not easy to develop bonds with them especially when they seem irregular, broken, defected...unusual in general. Kevin Kelly believes that technology is the 7th Kingdom of Life and that the major trends in technology evolution are the same as in biological evolution-- the same drives that we see, towards ubiquity, towards diversity, towards socialization, towards complexity. In that case, why is it that we accept, understand, or even appreciate imperfection in nature, life, and the pre-analog when an imperfect piece of technology is considered as trash? Imperfection is the sign of humaneness. Can technology feel more meaningful when there are functions subtracted? When it is deformed? When it is incomplete? Relying on rigorous experiments and research, serendipitous discoveries, and critical evaluations, I plan on illustrating the possibilities of meaningful experiences using higher technology that embody imperfection as a humane trait. I believe imperfection can make un-lively looking objects seem more alive, intimidating objects more approachable, and annoying objects more affectionate.

Personally, I'm the most interested in the "personal life of an electronic object" at the moment. Elements like "down-time" of an electronic object, "needing people to finish a task," and electronics having a "relationship with creatures other than humans" are some sub-topics that particularly stays in my head. My only concern is that I may be going down a slippery slope down "mere personification of an electronic object."


Physical Experience

Brainstorm Egg (2009)


iDMAa Student Showcase Winner "Innovation" 2009
Spark Awards Finalist 2009
Adobe Design Achievement Award Semi-finalist 2009

Prompt: Typical computer interactions tend to be very similar - a person sitting at a desk, using a mouse and looking at a screen. In contrast, someone building a car in an auto factory has a completely different apparatus and environment than someone making pottery in a studio. Likewise each interaction with ubiquitous computing should aspire to fit into the context of the activitiy rather forcing the users into a default technology interface. Imagine that instead of millions of people sitting in similar chairs, at similar desks, using similar computers, each individual uses a system (physical objects & space, interfaces, activities, system behaviors, gestures, affordances, etc.) that makes sense for the activity they are doing right now.

This project explores how future interfaces can better the world of brainstorming. Inspiration and ideas come and go. The ability to remember, communicate, and realize good ideas will be supported by this design.

The projector: I'm using a very futuristic projector that is the size of a coin to further develop this project. By using a projector that is portable, we will be able to achieve cost-effective, sustainable, and ubiquitous computing on varous surfaces including nature, where touchscreen LCDs would not be applied to. With this project, I am not devoping the technology for it but rather explore possible applications.

The egg: Instead of using just the multi-touch method for the interface, I decided to introduce an egg-shaped palette board. This egg, in concept, would be touchscreen-enabled at all sides, allowing the user to interact with the "menu" options. The egg would also contain a camera, microphone, texture scanner, and an accelerometer that would detect motion. The "menu" options will always face the user even if it turns or shifts.

The interface: Although the user will have to interact with a projected screen, the gestures and affordances between the ubiquitous projector, the egg, and the user will contribute productivity in the creative prcoess. One will be able to visualize ideas fast, manage past inspirations, easily access saved references, and gain serendipitous encounters to projects that are floating on the cloud. Users will be able to make mental connections between the items on "screen" to further their projects.

 •  initial experiment with a touchscreen iMac

 •  final critique with close-up of the interactions and captions

*Interactive whiteboard application by Johnny Chung Lee was utilized.

The ultimate outcome: By using this this conceptual product, its user will be able to brainstorm ideas with great comfort, which is vital but missing in the creative process. The user will be able to work at a coffee shop, during a business dinner meeting, during a conference, or even when they have an amazing idea right before falling asleep. Using this ubiquitous brainstorming interface, we can achieve brainstorming that is spontaneous, collaborative, and effective all at the same time.


CUE (2009)

Samsung Design, America - Internship

CUE is a concept designed for the modern family that enables dynamic communication and shared entertainment experiences. CUE provides a rich and dynamic communication experience from home by making video connections with friends and loved ones easy, intuitive, and fast. When docked, or upright, CUE functions as a full screen video chat device. When idle, it provides those nearby with a personalized media memory stream that might include favorite pictures and videos of those in its proximity. When the CUE is moved to a flat position, it switches to a fun and interactive touch screen gaming device. CUE provides a highly sensorial game play experience that incorporates haptic feedback, sound, and dynamic visuals. Through it's camera, CUE recognizes its users and therefore is able to provide a highly personalized and intuitive touch screen interface in both modes.

Today's American Family is challenged by limited interaction. Undesirable work & life balances bring challenges to families, and because of this, American families today spend on average just 45 minutes per day together either over dinner, or while watching TV. Families today are challenged by a lack of common interests across generations and parents are finding it increasingly difficult to understand their own children. Children, left on their own, struggle to absorb, reflect, and respect family values. That said, companionship is increasingly found outside the family unit. Families today yearn for companionship and communication and compensate for these needs with technology. CUE is a product concept designed for the modern family that enables dynamic communication and shared entertainment experiences.

The CUE succeeds in its goal to create an emotional bond between itself and its users by enabling its users to feel engaged, connected, and energized. These qualities are achieved by embodying the following principles:

• Sensory: Enables its users to feel alive by engaging the senses and awaking emotions through feelings of nostalgia.
• Emotional: Reflects the human experience through emotional qualities.
• Inclusive: Allows for simultaneous participation and accommodate for differing tastes in entertainment.
• Communicative: Facilitates face-to-face interaction, and relationship maintenance.
• Social: Aids communication between its users and not isolate them.
• Participation: Encourages equal participation from all active users.
• Intuitive: Embodies both digital and physical affordances to provide NUI.

Mock up Materials
Screen- Clear acrylic silk screened, then sprayed black
Lighting- Clear acrylic (milky finish to help lighting effects)
Rear Casing- ABS with a glossy pearl white finish
Speaker Mesh- Perforated black ABS

Base- Milled aluminum (Anodized charcoal black) Sandblasted look finish
Base Contacts- Metal (Chrome polish)
Base Cover- ABS (Matte black)
Base Damper- ABS (Soft feel paint finish)

-Multi-touch consists of a touch screen (screen,overlay, table, wall, etc.) or touch pad,
as well as software that recognizes multiple simultaneous touch points
-Identity recognition via proximity sensing camera
-An accelerometer- single- and multi-axis models are available to detect magnitude and direction of the acceleration as a vector quantity, and can be used to sense orientation.
Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe AfterEffects, Adobe Flash, Alias, Rhino, Hypershot, Quicktime

(1) To explore the emotional relationship and bond between products and their users (2) Leverage design research and product design in the exploration of the following design qualities: Reflectivity, Affection, and Continuity.

* Designed in collaboration with Prashant Desai, Jason Chung, and Tyler Moffet
as a part of Samsung Design, America.

* Bronze Prize winner during the Samsung Global Design Membership Competition.

Click here to view pages from the presentation


Networked Orchestra (2009)

People Knowing

What are expected with toys that create sound? With this project, I wanted to explore how a designer can create a unique experience when musical instruments have been around as long as people have. With the help of technology and networks, I wanted to create an orchestra that was somewhat familiar and new to the user and at the same time.

How can people know the functions of my instruments without having seen it before?

User test #1:
After mapping out questions and ideas I wanted to explore in this project, I had conducted a probe with printed images of different types of fruite. I asked people to pick and perform how they would use fruites as a stringed instrument, a flute, a shaker, and a drum. This experiment gave me an idea of what qualities, shapes, textures, and their previous knowledge about the fruits affect the way they may approach my designed sound toy. I had decided to get insight from the creativity of my test subjects to develop the form of my toy.

The form: Per my probe, I then came up with an idea to make abstract-shaped objects. With some hints on the objects, people would ideally be able to understand how the objects are supposed to be played.


The interaction: What if these networked instruments would affect other instruments when played?

(from top left to bottom right)
1. objects are not activated
2. one object is activated and it sends out signals to other objects to join network
3. another object joins the network and sends signals to other objects
4. the remaining objects join the network and the end result creates an orchestra

* The instruments would be networked, which means they can be far away or close by, making the experience different in each scenario.

User test #2: User testing with 2 objects in temporary forms

People understood how the shaker worked, immediately.
Not knowing that the microphone sensor was not yet inside the balloon, Austin tries different ways of interacting with a sound toy.
Hye Mi understood that the light sound was not caused by the big object, but that another small object was "whispering" to it.

The Sound

The Twist:
Although I had designed the objects to create two sound output per instrument, since the speakers where attached to the object itself, the microphone sensor picked up sound from the speaker in the same toy and the wii remote picked up the motion of the bass-enhanced speaker.
* The object on the left has a microphone sensor and a speaker, and the object on the right has a Wii remote and a speaker. The Wii remote is being controlled with OSCulator and the microphone sensor is controlled with the Make Controller.

User test #3

The shapes communicate the function and speaker/input device location more successfully. The user knows how to use the toys and constantly listens to the speakers.

Future direction:

#1: What if the starting toy defined the "genre" of the orchestral composition?

#2: What if these objects had a gravitational pull in terms of sound?

#3: What if the volume of the sounds changed according to the intensity of the action and the pitch of the sounds changed according to the directions the objects were pointing at?

The video below was a reference suggestion I got when I expressed to a friend that I wanted the sound of the objects to synchronize with the gestures more.
(MIT Media Lab "Digital Baton")


The Trap (2009)

Experimental Interventions (People Knowing)

What kinds of installations grab the attention of people when they know nothing about it? What makes the viewer want to interact with the piece? How does the viewer know what to do when there are no instructions? These were some questions we wanted to answer through this project. The experiments are posted chronologically.

The Trap - Phase #1 - "The Test: Mirror, mirror on the Wall..."


Two cameras watching people, a mirror to attract attention

The outcome:
People are surprised/startled.

The installation itself is not noticable
People don't know that they have to walk up close.

The Trap - Phase #2 - "Let's Talk Vanity"


Added Features:
Red backdrop, different sounds, a proximity sensor and a make controller

The outcome:
People are surprised/startled.
People laughed.
People took pictures.
People took turns getting different responses.
People re-returned over and over again.
People were interested in finding out how the machine was working.

The installation was very noticable.
People knew that the comments were randomized pre-recordings.
People just simply had fun and enjoyed the installation.

The Trap - Phase #2, version 2 - "Mechanic Vanity"


Added Features:
Constant beeping sound, mechanic voice recordings.

The outcome:
People are surprised/startled.
People laughed.
People took pictures.
People took turns getting different responses.
People re-returned over and over again.
People were interested in finding out how the machine was working.

The installation attracted attention the most.
People were more interested in how the machine worked rather than just playing with the responses and laughing.

Project done in collaboration with Yoo Kyoung Noh and Sharon Levy


Scenic Route (2009)

experimental interventions (People Knowing)

What is a scenic route? How do we make an installation that would trigger the curiosity of people who are passing by? What can we make them do other than to just look at the installation?

We have decided to create a narrative scenic environment where people can constantly find out more and more as they interact with the space. We've placed a pair of binoculars at the "Vista Point" to act as a point of realization for people that there were a number of dialogues going on up the stairway. The viewers could also alter the landscape by filling in the word bubbles offered and applying them to the route. We were able to see the stairs transform over time! Check out our little athletes who left the stairs and traveled as well!

Project done in collaboration with Yoo Kyoung Noh and Sharon Levy



Da Capo, Layered (2008)

Transmedia Design - interactive

There is something definitely magical about technology. Although it is a man-made
environment, when it starts processing the information fed into the system in different
ways, it starts creating a new world that is only accessed through technology.

L: Presentation done in class
R: The actual envision

Da Capo, Layered is an interactive piece that visualizes the activity level of the space
it is overseeing. There are eight levels to this installation and every seven seconds, the
installation picks up the activity level of the environment the attached camera is
monitoring, and transforms it to the output. The seven second intervals are shown on
the monitor with the graphic that falls from top to bottom and as the levels ascend, the
camera detects and outputs more areas on the screen and the output music gets an
additional layer of sound.

Music: "Soma" by cello rock band, the Ken Oak Band


Memory Music Box (2008)

This is not a Knob - Productive Interaction


The goal of this project was to use one input device--a knob--to create either a sound or video output. My input device was attached to a music box which created music on itself. The music box contains a 7-inch monitor that contains a filmstrip of six video clips that scroll up and down as the user turns the knob. Once the user lets go of the knob, the filmstrip which contained a 1 second preview of the videos stops and the videos are then replaced with the full-length, 20~30 second video clips. Video taken by Hyun Ju Yang.


The process: closed vanity set...open vanity set...open music box...turn the knob...stop turning knob to enjoy the full video.


The back-scene: Knob with gear glued onto the shaft...actual music box turns gear...laptop and make controller hidden inside the drawer of the vanity set.


Some still shots of the six video clips that circles on the 7" monitor inside the music box. The contents of the six video clips range from simple pop culture references to personal narratives.


"Optical Science" Exhibition (2009)

Narrative Space

What would an exhibition space on optics have? I have identified five areas of optical science and created an exhibition space reflecting the sub-topics. Please explore!


Useless Networks (2009)

New Ecology of Things


"My Remote Playmate: A Patient-monitoring Device for Autistic Children"

What good is a phone when the user is deaf? What good is remote contact with a pre-programmed robot when the person is autistic, and needs the physical contact with another human being and one-on-one care? This project is designed to illustrate the dangers of technological imperative by creating a well-designed, yet useless object using wireless networks. This was a warm-up project, thus, some of the design is mocked-up other than the primary effector/sensor. I have created a device that is made for a doctor to monitor an autistic child remotely, masquerading as a friend. The doctor can initiate conversations with the child whenever he desires to do so! He can simply turn on the auto-conversing mode--the computer will listen to the child and talk to him using a pre-programmed system--and the doctor can monitor the child's reationship with his surroundings. The device comes in the form of a watch or a doll in various colors! If your child was in such a situation where he needed 24-hour monitoring, would you really want a computer to do it? No. Should an autistic child be treated like some A/S computer fix-up service? No. The device may initiate conversations and let the doctor monitor the child, who knows if the child would even talk to the device? Even if he does engage in the device, it can not help the child to talk to other people or exchange deeper emotions--it may even cause the child to distance himself from being social with other people even more.

The up-side:
The doctor can monitor his autistic patient 24/7.

The down-side:

The device may never even get a reaction back from the child.
The machine may be of negative influence of the child since autistic children also tend to have Obsessive Compulsive Disorders.


Screen-based Interaction

The Machine and the Factory (2008)

Visualizing Dynamic Systems

•  load the swf file
The Sound Mapping Machine

A flash based sound mapping machine that detects music or sound from the microphone which generates visual effects accordingly.



The Name to Minuette Factory  •  load the swf file  •  download font "four x four"

A flash based "Name to Minuette Factory" where I had to design a system that would pick 16 nodes out of 192 1.5 second clips of songs precomposed by Mozart. I created a customized typeface to influence the 16 nodes of the to-be-composed minuette. There are over 45,949,730,000,000,000 different songs that can be played from this factory that is customized for you!


Redesigning Wikipedia (2008)

Productive Interaction - Interface


view prototypeview video tutorial

The goal of this project was to redesign the current wikipedia web site(http://wikipedia.com/) in a group of three people. We had to use innovative approaches to interactive design to access a complex set of information. Our group discussed the pros and cons of this online general knowledge bank. We had concluded that there is a disconnection between how the encyclopedia acted as a resource to the current online process in both aesthetic and multi dynamic and researchable avenues. We had decided to bring the offline experience of a knowledge bank closer to the online experience.

To resurge this vernacular, we have decided to introduce the concept of "stashes" which includes a list of search results and a workstation for organizing collected scraps, notes, or excerpts from the searched entries. We wanted to eliminate the step of using a word processing program by allowing the user to export items in the "wiki_stash" easily.

The idea of serendipity is incorporated in the search results of each article as well. You can see in the search results, towards the bottom part of the page, a lever that will give you a list of words. When the lever is closer to the "hot" end, the list of words are closely related to the searched word, and when the lever is closer to the "cold" end of the spectrum, the list of words are less related to searched word.

The boxes on the left side of the search results is an easy preview of how much information there are on a searched word in wikipedia. This can bring back the sense of holding a book that is 1000 pages thick as opposed to a book that is 100 pages thick.

Project with classmates Chris Becker and Haelim Paek



Whittier Narrows Water Reclamation Plant (2008)

Visualizing Dynamic Systems


This project required us to visualize the activity of a dynamic system that was installed at a chosen site. In my case, I wanted to work on the visualization of the water reclamation process at the San Gabriel Valley Water District. I've visited the site, studied the system, and found interest in the fact that bacteria did 90% of the reclamation work and decided to visualize the life cycle of the bacteria that lives in the tanks. The front side of the final printed product has the description of what happens in each of the tanks at the water reclamation site, with visuals of a war scene which represents the bacteria activity in the tanks. The back side of the piece contains a chart of lab results that I got from Dwight Burton at the Whittier Narrows Water Reclamation Lab.


Documentation of the research.


Transmedia Design (2008)

type • image • type+image





See, Colloquium (2008)



Creating a poster - Fall 2008 Design Dialogues final project

"Design a "retrospective" poster advertising this semester's Design Dialogue series, as if it were in the future. Give the series a name, identify the overarching themes or concepts, and represent the idea through text and/or image. The poster should be provocative--it's goal is to convey the content/attitude of the series and to interest others to attend. Restrict yourself to 18 hours total: the goal is not a perfect poster but a great idea/thinkpiece."

Though this poster, I wanted to portray two different points of view; the students who are attending the lecture series, and the lecturers who are seeing the students who has attended the lecture to listen to them. I saw the design dialogue series as a lens, a special place where both the attendees and lecturers are able to engage in a meaningful conversation about design. The tiled background photographs are taken with a toy lens which I displayed with the poster.



Transmedia Design (2008)

sound • video • sound+video


Video - Media+Technology

A video camera recording a video of what it is seeing. This project plays with the idea that we can reveal visuals that are not seen with the help of technology through different medium. Here is a 15 second preview.

Video+Sound - Media+Technology

A computer records itself with the built-in web camera and microphone. The ambiguous visuals of a personified computer are identifiable with the help of the sounds computers make when it is "thinking." Here's a 25 second preview.


Theory / Criticism

Transmedia Analysis as Support for the Future of Design (2009)

final essay project

Media History and Theory   final.pdf

Perform transmedia analysis by crafting a media-rich essay that in 8 to 10 pages analyzes at least three, but not more than five, images, objects, or systems. Using the theoretical methodologies we've been discussing this semester, make an argument about the future of design, and create an argument that includes the discussion of a static object(book, poster, photograph, sculpture, etc.), a time-based motion piece (film, video, motion graphic, play, music recording, etc.), and a complex system (architectural, web-based, experiential, etc).


Visceral, Behavioral, Reflective, and the Fourth Aspect of Design (2008)

midterm paper

Design Research History and Theory
   midterm.pdf   map.pdf

In no less then 3,000 words, identify a personal area/s of interest or a significant contemporary issue/s in the field of Design Research. Your paper will discuss the unique qualities of this area, what impact it has made on the larger design research discourse and what influence you see it having on your practice. You will do this specifically by using design examples to articulate and uncover the underlying epistemological foundations this area relies on or has been informed by citing specific examples and elaborating on how these true beliefs justified have given rise and shaped its unique characteristics, methods, language, form and contribution.

I journeyed through my very short design experience to identify design methodologies and beliefs I am interested in, then came to a conclusion that I want to acheive a balance between beauty, theory, communication, and creating an emotional experience.


final project


Design Reminder Kit

Per the midterm paper I wrote for this class, I created a post-it kit designed for me to evaluate each of my projects including the design methodologies and beliefs behind the projects.



Materials and Spaces as Media (2009)

Cardboard Stool


"The Perfect Cube"

Design a stool that would withold your weight for 30 seconds out of a 4' x 4' sheet of cardboard without any tape, glue, or string. I imagin this to be constructed with a colorful sheet of cardboard that has intricate cut-outs.


Urethane Lampshade

#1 ice cubes + plaster

#2 clear beads + plaster - broke apart, never fully dried

#3 clear beads + urethane


#3 The final look


Set Design with Einstein's Dream


Prompt: Create a Set Design after reading excerpts from Einstein's Dream

Scene #1
"One cannot walk down an avenue, converse with a friend, enter a building, browse beneath the sandstone arches of an old arcade withouth meeting an instrument of time. Time is visible in all places. Clock towers, wristwatches, church bells divide years into months, months into days, days into hours, hours into seconds, each increment of time marching after the other in perfect sucession...Time is an infinite ruler. Time is absolute." (p 25~26)

Scene #2
"At twenty minutes to ten tomorrow morning, the woman will put on her scarf and her gloves and her coat and walk down the Schifflaube, past the Nydegg Bridge and on to the tea shop on Postgasse. Across town, at fifteen minutes before ten, her friend will leave her own house on Zeughausgasse and make her way to the same place. At ten o'clock they will meet. They will meet at ten o'clock." (p 27)





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