SIGGRAPH 2009 Report 8/4(Day2)

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In the "Aesthetic Information" room at SIGGRAPH, there is an installation called News Knitter. The installation of ten knit sweaters stood out from others as it was made of traditional medium, utilises technology and embodies design all at the same time.

News Knitter utilises live data gathered from daily news feed from the internet, analyses them and converts them into a unique visual pattern that is then sent to a knitting machine producing the sweaters. Each sweater is a result of news gathered in a specific day or over a period. There were four designs made in red, blue and grey:
-Headlines of political news articles printed across the front of the sweaters. Their popularity was represented by the sizes of the points before each headline, and extremely popular headlines would be red instead of blue.
-Lines and crosses extending from the center, with the length of the lines and size of the crosses dependent on the popularity of the headlines. The exact headline of each line is not mentioned, however.
-Crosses of varying sizes depending on the popularity of each represented news article, and the colour dependent on the region the news is about - red if the news is concerning Europe, and blue Asia. There was a similar design where red crosses represented military news, and blue education. There were grey squares in both designs, representing articles that were not relevant to the either of the keywords used. 
I found it interesting to note that there were significantly more news concerning the military than education from the Turkish news data feed.
-Vertical bars with varying length and thickness arranged in rows. Like the previous design, the colour depended on which region or issue the news articles were about.

I listened to the curator's talk with the student, and later spoke with him about his installation. He mentioned about mass-production, which conflicted with the concept of having unique designs for each sweater even if it is commercially more viable. He also talked about the metaphor of the interlinking of the Web being lost if he were to turn to printing. The knit pattern represented the interweave of information on the Web, which I found extremely meaningful.
For more information (and if anyone has an interest in buying one when the sweaters are available for sale), please visit http://casualdata.com/newsknitter

In the "Emerging Technologies" rooms, I was amazed that about more than half of the booths were by Japanese institutes.
There was a booth by students who designed a helmet to influence the movement of the person wearing it. By tugging the clips clipped to both ears either forwards, backwards, to the right or to the left, a human's movements will also be affected. It is probably similar to how a horse feels having his reins pulled on. 
There was also a game using the human breath (of specific smells) to defeat enemies on a screen, and also a plastic umbrella which allowed the person holding it to experience various strengths of rain hitting the umbrella
An installation called "Touch the Invisibles" used a similar idea of simulation, which basically attached a to the fingernail of the index finger so that when the index finger moves over a moving image on the screen, a buzz to his fingers gives the sensation of the finger moving over bumps. The installation is also, coincidentally, by Japanese.

It proved to me that the stereotype of Japan having one of the most advanced technology in the world has its basis. 
However, some of the creations/technology featured made me ponder if they had any possible use in society. The conclusion that I reached was that new technology is experimental, and through the process of selection, technology deemed useful would be kept and eventually implemented while those not would be discarded or improved upon. This is how technology, and science too, is improved over time.

YING TONG