Hannah Jiang

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FINAL PROJECT – Aesthetic prototypes 1-6

From Wednesday’s class, I received some inspiring critical feedback on the concept and the form of the installation:

  • Why flowers? Can you use something more abstract?
  • Why do you want to show the distinction between cultures? We are not so different after all.

    During the weekend, I did more research on symbolism and metaphors, interactive installations and kinetic arts. I went to an artist supply store and went over every shelf to look for materials that I could use to mock up my ideas, also as a newbie artist, I wanted to explore the potential of different materials and get inspiration from them.


    I searched for metaphors related to communication and I found this article by H. J. Krysmanski, it is about the history of windows as a metaphor. In history, “window” has been associated with human’s inquisitive instincts and the interaction with the unknown.1 Right now we use the window metaphor for opportunities and connections. Windows have two states, open and closed, also they are always made of geometric shapes, hence I think the window could be a possible form of my project.

    Materials & Tools

    Prototype 1 – Window

    I used a foam board as the main interface, then I carved 2 square shapes and cut them open, they have different designs and background colors, which could be used to distinguish different cultures.

    I like this prototype because it’s using abstract shapes and colors so that it leaves a lot of space for the audience to interpret in their own ways. Thinking about specific colors or messages to represent a culture, an idea came to my mind: Windows are used to connect one world to another, what if I show the audience another world through the window?

    Prototype 2 – Silhouette

    I got inspiration from the paper artwork I saw, which used layers of papers to create a 3D feeling, started with something I’m familiar with, I used a Chinese traditional round gate and silhouette of bamboos to represent the Chinese culture.


    I’m still very into the flower concept, not because it is the best metaphor for a culture, but the fact that it could be related to a universal metaphor: the root. Roots are always used metaphorically as the origin of something.2 Although the flowers are different, their reactions to the audience are different, but they will be all growing from the same root, this can be used to indicate that we are all the same after all.

    Prototype 3 – Old Book

    For this one, I used an old magazine as the material for the petals to give them a more abstract form than high fidelity flowers, also the words on the petals can be used to convey a message or to differentiate cultures. The prototype worked well, but I could tell that a lot of improvements could be made on the aesthetic aspect.

    Prototype 4 – Textured Petals

    As updated versions of my first functional prototype, prototype 4 and 5 aimed at exploring the feel of different papers. The first paper is very soft and has a rich pattern on it, it has a feel close to the fabric. Since it’s so soft I tried to use the wire as a support to the petals, however it didn’t give me the shape I wanted. I tried without the support, it turned out beautiful but I haven’t figured out what mechanism to use for the blooming effect.

    Prototype 5 – Recycled Paper

    The second type of paper is much harder than the former one, so it can support itself as a petal, I also used the wires to create a simple mechanism to open and close the petals.

    Prototype 6 – Clay Lotus

    To make a high fidelity flower, I chose clay as the material for the petals because it is capable to create a more natural shape.

    First time working with clay, although I followed the instructions on the package, I still overbaked it unfortunately. From the whole process of prototyping with clay I learned that it is a good material for static objects, for kinetic installations, it is a bit too heavy and thick to control.



    1. H. J. Krysmanski “Windows – Exploring the History of a Metaphor”. http://www.uni-muenster.de/PeaCon/psr/pn/05-krys-windows.pdf
    2. “Metaphors of Plants and Trees.” Metaphors in American Politics. March 23, 2014. Accessed December 04, 2017. http://www.politicalmetaphors.com/2014/03/23/metaphors-of-plants-and-trees/.