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Heather Wylie Major: MFA+DT “ Sniffing Booth” ArtSci 10/30/2011 DESMA 9 - Art Science & Technology - Prof. Victoria Vesna
Many people do not realize how intuitive dogs actually are. We view them as our domesticated inferiors most of the time. Some are treated only as cute creatures to pet, others serve as our eyes when we cannot see, and even fewer are trained to save our lives, serving as medically trained “professionals” in a way. What we don’t realize is how heightened and intuitive their senses are. Even the smallest “lap” dog has higher smell and sound sensory, picking up things often times humans miss. They are able to smell and see way beyond human perception. What if we were able to perceive everything they do? They world as we know it would be much larger. ABSTRACT
As part of a larger instillation, I contributed a small part consisting of thermochromic cards that reveal what dogs can smell that we can’t. We rely heavily on dogs heightened senses, more than we actually know. Due to their super sense of smell, we are protected from weapons such as explosives, have disease and bacteria more easily detected such as cancer and mold, and provided the luxury of delicious truffle mushrooms, just to name a few. Their senses pertain to all realms of life. CONCEPT / TOPIC
This project is in collaboration with Siddharth Ramakrishnan, PhD from Columbia University and Phil Ramet, a fellow Design and Technology graduate student at Parsons. This project was proposed by Siddharth in Spring 2011 during the Nano-bio technology course and I joined on as inlustrator and game developer. Mid way through, Phil joined the team as fellow illustrator and designer. In the first iteration, this project was a “sniffing booth” and the cards imitated a traditional deck of cards (52) with the purpose of an educational game. Between then and now, the booth turned into a full blown instillation with many booths or stations containing different cards placed at each one. The cards were cut down to 16 elements. What are Thermochromic Cards? -16 Cards consisting of elements dogs can smell Worm,Truffle,Termites,Mold,Bed Bug, Person on Couch,CD/DVD,Drugs,Explosives,Person’s ID,Blood,Snake,Santa Claus,Cat Drinking,Finger Print and Birds. Thermochromic: Thermochromic ink is ink that changes property when heat is applied. In this case, the ink changes from black to clear CONTEXT & PRECEDENCE
The images on the cards are original designs created by Phil and I and were hand silk screened. The most time consuming part of the process was figuring out materials. Underneath the black layer, which is the thermochromic ink, is an acrylic layer of regular screen print ink. That was easy and went very quick. Paper choice is very important in any printmaking and I selected a heavy weight, textured acrylic cardstock. The acrylic layer took very well this paper, but the thermochromic ink was not so pliant. The consistency of the thermochromic ink is very thick and gummy and was not easily absorbed by the paper. Process
Process I chose light grey as the acrylic layer to ensure the images would be covered by the thermochromic ink. After the black thermochomic layer dried, we discovered that it was a bit difficult to find the images on the cards. You have to activate the ink (apply heat) in the exact place the acrylic image is printed, otherwise the white of the card is shown. I also chose not to apply color to the images, to keep them consistent and unified. Also, this provided more of a challenge when trying to identify the images. Easy isn’t always fun.
Because the light grey was a little difficult to see, we printed a second batch with black acrylic ink as the fist layer and kept with the black thermochromic layer on top. We chose black thermochromic to keep from color association. With a black-white-grey palette, the images could not be associated or categorized by color. For an example, we would easily associate red with Santa, in the Western culture. Red does not necessarily have that association everywhere else in the world. Also, it keep focus on the image itself and gave a fair advantage at guessing what the images are. Also, we ended up going with a lighter paper weight with less texture. Usually, Reeves BFK paper is ideal for screenprinting, but because these are cards that people would interact with, the paper needed to be heavier and more durable. We went with a traditional mixed media paper. PROJECT PROPOSAL (3)
There are still parts of this contribution to the project that could be perfected. Experimenting with colors and how the ink covers them would be the next steps. There are so many possibilities and combinations of materials, ways to print and applications, this could be on going for quite sometime. To view the outcome, please visit the website. These cards are currently active in the instillation in Hong Kong and will be moving to UCLA in a week. CONCLUSION