Tag Archives: storytelling

Time Machine at the Lycée

Travel through time and meet characters from the past, present and future!

Our Maker Art class at the Lycée Français created a Time Machine with animated scenes and characters from the age of dinosaurs to the 50th century. This interactive art exhibit integrates physical and digital media, combining art, technology and storytelling.

Our 4th and 5th graders created their own scenes from the past, present or future, and brought them to life with motion, lights and sounds. Then also worked in teams to build interactive features to showcase their scenes: keypad, spinner and doors.

See also: video, slides, photos and design spec.

What does it look like?

Watch the video above to see the Time Machine in action. Some photos are also included below. See more in our slides.

Students

This program was designed for lower school children in grades 4 and 5 (ages 8-10). Nine students participated in this class: Tilo Allexandre, Esther Bomse, Theodore Carman, Louise Eddy, Nathanial Jenkins, Lena Jessen, Eugene Maeght, Yann Menard and Marshall Patron.

Here’s a survey report on what students thought of this class: they found it very good, liked learning about Arduino, and most would recommend this class to a friend.

What did students create?

Students created their own interactive ‘wonderboxes’ for these time periods:

  • Age of Dinosaurs
  • French Revolution
  • World War 2
  • World War 3
  • New York 2092
  • Alien Invasion
  • 25th Century
  • 50th Century

They brought their characters to life inside their cardboard ‘wonderboxes’ by making lights blink, sounds play and things move.

Working collaboratively, they also created these Arduino-powered features:

  • Dashboard with keypad
  • Spinner
  • Doors with lights

 

What did students learn?

Students learned to design a miniature world, build it with a variety of tools, animate it with electronics, and tell its story in presentations at the Lycée in Sausalito — and at Marinovators at the College of Marin on April 22 (see photos). We also showed them how to program the popular Arduino board to create a cool interactive art experience.

This unique combination of art and technology helped them develop a range of new skills:

  • critical and logical thinking;
  • science, technology, engineering and math skills;
  • electronics, circuits, lights, motors and soldering;
  • Arduino and computer programming;
  • creative expression and storytelling skills;
  • communication, collaboration and social skills.

See also: video, slides, photos and design spec.

 

Location

This class took place at Lycée Français in Sausalito, in the Innovation Lab (Room #340). The school entrance is 660 Coloma Street, Sausalito, CA 94945 (see Google Map).

 

Schedule

We met every Thursdays for 12 weeks, from January 5 to March 30, from 3:30pm to 5:00pm, at the Lycée Français in Sausalito.

Here is our course schedule:

  1. Plan our time machine (Jan. 5, 2017)
  2. Design the time machine (Jan. 12)
  3. Create your time scene (Jan. 19)
  4. Create a character (Jan. 26)
  5. Light up your scene (Feb. 2)
  6. Build your time machine (Feb. 9)
  7. Create a feature (Feb. 16)
  8. Paint your feature (March 2)
  9. Program your feature (March 9)
  10. Finish the time machine (March 16)
  11. Write your story (March 23)
  12. Show & Tell (March 30)

(There was no class on Feb. 23.)

 

Who were the teachers?

Multimedia innovators Fabrice Florin and Edward Janne taught this course, with the help of our Tam Makers community.

Fabrice Florin – Teacher

Fabrice is an art maker and social entrepreneur who creates unique experiences to inform and engage communities through digital and physical media. He has led the development of many pioneering products in education, news and entertainment, working with innovators such as Apple, Macromedia and Wikipedia. He is now a teacher and founder at Tam Makers in Mill Valley, where he teaches maker art to adults and teens.

Learn more at fabriceflorin.com .

Edward Janne – Associate Teacher

Edward is a software engineer, teacher and active member at Tam Makers. He has an extensive background in interactive design and engineering, and a personal interest in maker education. He is teaching other classes for adults and teens at Tam Makers this spring.

Learn more about Maker Art classes here: fabriceflorin.com/teaching-maker-art/

Fabrice and Edward are both part of Tam Makers, a new makerspace in Mill Valley, CA. To learn more, visit our site at tammakers.org .

 

Théatre Mécanique

Theatre Mécanique is a proposed interactive storytelling system for recreating a wide range of stories with animated puppets.

Theatre Mécanique is a proposed interactive storytelling system featuring animated puppets and computer-controlled multimedia.

I propose to create a Théatre Mécanique — a project which I would like to work on in coming years, in collaboration with others. (For a visual overview, check out these slides.)

The idea is to build an interactive storytelling system that would let you experience and remix some of the great myths and legends shared by all cultures around the world. It would enable small groups of people to collaboratively reenact some of these universal stories, connect them with their daily lives — and better understand each other as a result.

This theater cart would enable small groups of people to experience some of the universal myths we all share.

This theater cart would enable small groups of people to experience universal myths, and select plot elements.

This mini theater would be mobile, like a hot dog stand, so it could be located anywhere, from birthday parties to street fairs or even on the Playa. It would feature animated puppets, which could either be controlled manually by live performers, or automatically by small computers like Arduino: the puppets could slide in and out of the stage, face one another and/or move their heads and limbs, as shown in the prototype we’re now developing for a balinese cuckoo clock.

Animated puppets would act out short stories selected by participants, set against colorful images on a rear-projected screen.

Animated puppets would act out short stories against colorful images, rear-projected on a background screen.

This mixed media system would include a good sound system for amplifying background music, sound effects and character voices, either live or pre-recorded. A rear-projection screen would set the mood by displaying a wide range of images for each scene, from landscapes from around the world to historical or futuristic scenes. An interactive controller at the front of the stage would let visitors and performers select different types of stories, characters, images and sounds.

Participants would be invited to approach the theater and pick a topic, place or time on the controller. The puppets would then act out a short 1-3 minute scene based on your selection. At the end of each scene, they would ask you for more plot ideas, to guide what happens next. The performance would be recorded on video, which could be emailed to you afterwards, as shown in this first example.

This is an ambitious project, but it appeals to me deeply, because it has the potential to support a wide range of applications: from simple party entertainment to more creative uses, like a time machine simulation — or even scenario planning for group discussions.

In coming months, I would like to explore this idea with friends and collaborators, starting with simple low-tech theatrical experiments and eventually building small prototypes for key parts of the system. I am quite aware this is a large, multi-year project, so I am proposing to start small, and spread research and development over time, with actual fabrication starting a year later. This process is inspired by our collaborative work on the Pataphysical Slot Machine, which we aim to exhibit in public this year.

For this Theatre Mécanique, I hope we can find the right balance between existing storytelling traditions and new interactive technologies — so that the human qualities that make great performances possible are supported by these tools, rather than supplanted by them. Interestingly, this also ties in with the larger challenge we all face as a species, as we look for the right interplay between human and machine intelligence. To that end, I hope that we can tap diverse communities of artists and engineers to participate in this creative experiment.

Fortunately for us, there is a large community of puppeteers already practicing around the world, from Guignol to ‘toy theaters’ to Wayang — and these creative artists have already paved the way for this art form to evolve in a computer-assisted setting! I look forward to discussing these ideas with interested collaborators later this year. For now, I have included below a variety of links that might inspire us in planning this project.

Onward!