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Prologue ~ Phoenix A project for INLS 690 (Fall '20) by Olivia

This bibliocircuitry project was created as part of INLS 690: Informational Professionals in the Makerspace (Fall 2020). Titled Prologue ~ Phoenix, this artifact represents the relationship between a certain maker/artist and her craft.

Strategic Rationale

Choice of tech

  • Acrylic paint
  • Paper arts (pop up)
  • Paper circuits

In imitation of Z, the maker I interviewed, I chose acrylic paint as the primary medium for this artifact. Additional technologies featured are paper arts and paper circuits. The emphasis on low-tech media, despite the array of computer-aided skills we have also explored this semester, is intentional. One of the reasons for this decision is that I find that too much screen time to be at times stressful or draining. Making under those conditions is in direct contrast to the experiences of Z, for whom making art is therapeutic and a time to calm down and immerse herself in an activity. Therefore, I decided to work with paint, paper arts, and paper circuits to create such an atmosphere for myself while making.

User experience

Prologue ~ Phoenix offers a twist on the conventional ways one reads a book to provide the user with an interactive and reflective experience.

To witness the pop up feature in action, the user must open and close the book. As the user opens up the book to the appropriate two-page spread, the fiery phoenix rises up from the ash-colored pages. Likewise, as the user closes the book, the phoenix folds in upon itself and returns to the "ashes."

Part of the eye's attraction to the phoenix can be attributed to the shine of the copper tape, which decorates its body and streams behind it like unfurling tail feathers. Copper tape also lines the bookmark, a tool used to pause and record one's progress while reading and an integral piece of this paper circuit. To complete the circuit, the user must place the bookmark in the gutter (tape-side face-down to the left), which then causes the LED light, or guiding ember, atop the head of the phoenix to emit a red glow.

My making process

Caught up in a cycle between ash and flame, the phoenix is well-suited to embody my making process, which was by no means linear or without setbacks. But with each iteration, I learned something new, revised my personal goals for this project, and immersed myself more fully in the making.

The idea for the subject of my scene and the technologies I would incorporate came easily; the successful integration of some of those technologies with the book less so. For instance, I struggled with an appropriate pop up design, given my desired bird shape and current skill level. Having some awareness of what I could and couldn't do, I practiced using video tutorials and spare paper in another section of this book. The time set aside for experimentation proved beneficial and resulted in me adapting my design from the original shape presented in a certain tutorial. While I am still puzzling over how to incorporate an arm/wing extension, I let that idea go for the time being, focused on what I could do--the basic arm/wing structure--and redirected my efforts to adding texture to the wings by attaching slightly overlapping feather-shaped pieces.

Connections to course themes

This bibliocircuitry project has reaffirmed the broad definition of "making," inclusive of a diverse array of arts/crafts/technology, that has been applied throughout the course. While the Maker Movement has brought attention to products generated from certain digital technologies, making is already an established way-of-life in communities, as evidenced by the practice of creating "art."

The requirement for this project to include at least three technologies reminds that these technologies do not necessarily have to be experienced in isolation of one another. Moreover, these technologies can complement one another, spark creativity, and cause the maker to view a certain technology in a new light. In the case of Prologue ~ Phoenix, I ignored the text on the book's page, traditionally the most important part of reading, and reconsidered the book as a physical artifact. This book still serves as a vehicle for an idea, but in order to grasp the idea, the user must contemplate the mechanics of the book, the degree of importance of text (which was deliberately obscured), and the purpose of a bookmark. This pondering of thought can take place over multiple interactions with the artifact.

Ultimately, the user's actions direct the experience. I hope that it proves to be a thought-provoking and enjoyable one.

Thank you for viewing.