Monday, December 8, 2008

Final Project

Four months of being a student in the city of New York, I have mixed feeling about living in this city. Although the diversity and energy of the city are exciting, it is way more crowded and dirtier than I have thought. Lately, I experienced the most depressed time that I have never experienced in my life, and fired complaints about this city and wished to leave it as soon as possible. I started to question whether my dislikes of New York is overwhelming my likes of New York. Thus, to express my personal feelings of the city, I would like to create a web site to show the battle between my dislikes and likes of New York. To make the site more impacting, I decide to open it to the public and allow visitors to input their comments.

Create a web site to gather positive and the negative comments and experiences of living in the city of New York. A simple game mechanism is utilized to encourage participation.

Detailed Description:
The main page of the website will present
a big graphic display “I ♥ NY”. The heart-shape will be filled by two colors: one represents the positive comments; the other represents the negative. The two colors fill in the heart-shape according to the ratio between the positive and negative comments. In other word, if the positive comments are 60% of the total comments, the color representing positive will cover 60% of the heart-shape. The color representing negative will cover the remaining 40%.

The users contribute positive comments by clicking on the pump picture, from which pops up a form with functions of inputting text and uploading pictures. The interface will look familiar to the web users for it will emulate the posting interface on most of the blogs. To contribute negative comments, the user will click on the injector picture from the main page.

As the user inputs a positive comment, it will be submitted to a database dedicated to store positive comments. That comment will return to the screen as a bubble floating in the positive portion of the heart-shape, which will increase due to the ratio change of positive and negative comments at that time. The user can click on the bubble to view the comment shown in a popup window. Users can reply to each comment by clicking on the “reply” button, which will direct them to the archive page of that particular entry and add on it as what they used to do when blogging. The negative portion will have the same commenting process as the positive one. There will be a maximum of 50 bubbles floating in total to avoid overwhelming data visualization.

Interface Design:

in page

when click on "Archive" button

when click on the pump -> pop up

when click on the injector -> pop up


I. "We Feel Fine"

I am attracted by the particle movement and the playful display of the “I Feel Fine” project. The particles paint vivid pictures of the feeling phrases from various blogs. They inspire me to create the moving bubbles in the heart-shape of my “I ♥ NY” site. Such graphic display increases the interaction and attractiveness of the site to the users.

II. "14000 things to be happy about"

Inspired by this website, I will create a game-like forum with intuitive graphical illustrations to provide incentive for the users to participate in inputting comments.

Public Space Project - Phase IV

Build conversations on a given topic

Focus Group:
Women - b/c throughout iterations, women had been more responsive

Speech Bubbles with different female body image

-posters on carousel cube
-4 body types: Skinny, Chubby, Muscular, Morbidly Obese
-large speech bubbles
-writing tools provided

-carousel cube is more inviting
-stands out more
-installable at the pier


-Women responded
-Men responded more than expected

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Public Space Project - Phase III

Induce indirect interaction with lower barrier to entry

Focus Group:
Bypassers familiar with political figures

Allow writing with political pictures, use white erase board, provide markers

Election was around the corner


I. Conversation between Obama and McCain

Objective: get people fill in the bubbles to form dialog between the two candidates

II. Photoshoped Palin

Objective: See how people's reaction change with a different picture

  • Successful
    • indirect interaction achieved
    • drew attentions
  • Analysis
    • Females are more responsive
    • Content matters
      • Palin's photoshoped photo speaks for itself -> hard to get new messages written
    • Dry erase board limits interaction
      • shorten the time people gather around the board
      • some people hesitated before erasing others' message

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Dandelion from wei-ju Chen on Vimeo.

Mood... and Feeling... with Music..


StoryBoard from wei-ju Chen on Vimeo.

Storyboard for short animated film.

Public Space Project - Phase II

Get people who normally don't interact to interact.

Use dogs as the medium for conversation

Dog owners

  • They usually not in hurry
  • Dogs are sociable animals
  • People use dogs as a conversation catalyst
  • Considerable percentage of people on the pier are dog walkers
Doggie Cut Out

Three Iterations:

1. Doggie Cut Out + Advertising Board

--> Noticed, not Used

2. + Action Shots

--> Used, no Stranger Interaction

3. + Water & Snack

--> Treats were misunderstood

  • Cut out didn't work as intended
  • Catches attention, but not for a long time
  • High barrier to entry
  • Interface not inviting enough

  • Not successful
  • Dog owners not the best target
  • High barrier to entry
  • Broaden target audience

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Public Space Project - Phase I

Objective: Observe a public space for 24 hours. Document it. Identify the groups appear in that space and how they interact among one another.

Location: Pier 45, New York - Space in front of the restroom

Time schedule of observation:
Oct 15 (Wed.): 2pm - 8pm
Oct 17 (Fri.): 10am - 4pm
Oct 18 (Sat.): 10am - 5pm
Oct 19 (Sun.): 10am - 4pm

It was very cold and windy on Saturday and Sunday... cold but sunny. I went there on Friday morning and on Sunday afternoon. Most of the people appear on Friday morning were mostly old people, elderly couples,college students, and the ones who's schedules are flexible so they would be able to go to the pier during office hours.

The main activities on the pier include walking, running, biking, dog walking. People go to the pier to get away from home, do some outdoor activities, relax. The weather will be the key factor that determines the flow of people appear in our chosen space.

Main Groups identified:
- The ones that hurry:
runners, cyclists
- The ones that take their time:
dog walkers, couples, elderlies, families
- The ones that chill:
people who hang around in that space (visitors, people who take break, people who wait for others...)

click HERE to view the presentation

Monday, October 27, 2008

Moonlight Dolphin

animated dolphin under moonlight + music of Yo-Yo Ma
took me a whole day...

Moonlight Dolphin from wei-ju Chen on Vimeo.

Sunday night on subway...

it was around 10 pm
i was on my way home, on 7 train
two stops to my station... and... suddenly....
all the other passengers were gone!
there were no people in the cart except me!!
i was happy! very very happy!
why was i happy about that?

have been in the city for 3 months
i was surrounded by pure air in a public space for the first time!
that's what made me happy!

why was i happy about no people?
i guess i'm already tired of being in the crowded New York city...
after 3 months living here... only 3 months... damn..

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Interface Studio: Project I

a group project -- team of two -- with Justin Jordan -- parsons

Pick one reality from Einstein's Dream or Invisible Cities. Design an object that help the people in the story express their personality. Incorporate the form of (a) cube(s) in the object. Be aware of the needs of the people in the story.

In this world, people have no memory. Everyone fills out his/her Book of Life at the end of each day when memory is still in the head. The next day, people forget their past. The only way for them to know themselves is by consulting their Book of Life.


We thought about using different media to create self-portraits for the people in the story, including mirrors, kiosk, memory cubes, etc. Then we thought about what are the NEEDS of the people in the story.

How-Why Chart

Here is a list of needs we identified:
- portable (so people can record anytime, anywhere)
- easy access (to solve the problem of flipping through the book)
- intuitive (user friendly interface b/c people have short memory)
- large storage (to solve the problem of thickening book over time)

First Iteration:

A digital memory cube was our first choice, but it is not easy to carry. Then we got the idea of having the cube sitting virtually in a flat screen.

Here are the initial sketches of the design:

Here are the mock-ups in computer:

The design is a virtual cube with 6 sides. The users turn from side to side by sliding their fingers on the screen, just like what an iPhone user does. Except one side being the setting menu side, the rest 5 sides are all configurable by the users. This is to allow maximum flexibility.

Second Iteration:

The 6 side design was kinda complicated. As the designers, we knew how the thing worked as a virtual cube sitting in the screen. However, when we try to imagine using it as an end user who knows nothing about the design, the interface was a little confusing and we got disoriented after sliding from side to side both vertically and horizontally. In the second iteration, we tried to simplify the interface and put in more efforts on the mechanism design of the device as a whole.

After rethinking about the fact that the users have no memory and their need to have intuitive interface, we decided to set up the sides by default, not letting the users configure everything. In addition, to solve the problem of getting disoriented by having 6 virtual sides, we decided to have 2 sides fixed and the cube only rotates horizontally.

Here are the sketches of the improved design:

Computer mock-up of the 4 main interface:

details on the Notes side:

details on the Record side:
details on the Archive side:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Viola Recital

Poster for my friend's recital.
A violinist from China. wants Chinese painting as the background.

Process of creation:
- washable markers on paper / water
- photoshop

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

20 Boxes

Second round of the box project. 20 boxes in two days!
This was not as bad as the first round since I knew how to make them efficiently.

This time the focus was on scale. My concept was very simple: 8 identical cubes forms a larger cube. I used transparent folder cover to make 20 cubes - 8 larger ones, 12 smaller ones sitting in the big ones. The transparency generates pretty good effects when I film them. You can clearly see a cube (composed of 8 small cubes) hanging in the middle of the biggest cube (composed of the 8 larger cubes).

Rearranging the cubes creates some interesting visual effects. It's fun playing with them. I like my transparent cubes!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

25 Boxes

The first project of my interface studio was to make 25 boxes with different materials. I first thought it would be an easy project and shouldn't take long to finish. But it turned out to be very time-consuming...

Because the assignment was to use 25 different materials and I didn't want to spend too much money buying them from the art store, I searched my whole apartment to see what were available. It was fun at the beginning when I tried to make boxes from some strange materials like subway map, cookie box, plastic tray, toothpicks, sponges, strings, foils, bubble wrap, metro cards, cotton swabs, candle wax with vanilla smell, etc. However, I got very frustrated finding new materials when I got to the 15th box.

Then I started to think about "material" more in depth. I figured that the "paper" category could be expanded. There are different types of paper with different textures and feeling when you touch them. So I started to destroy bags and paper boxes I had in the room. So I got tissue paper box, brown paper box, glossy paper box, ... I also used paper towel and coffee filters.

It took me two days to make these 25 boxes, which was way more time then what I originally thought it would take. As time getting late, I was getting more and more desperate to finish the project. I was even thinking of using toilet paper at some point, but I suppressed the impulse. Nonetheless, one good side about this project is that it helped me clean up my room by discovering potential garbages, using them in the project and throwing them out after I was done!