• Kylie Blair

Small craft Warning

Creation and Computation

Digital Futures

Fall 2017

Roxanne Baril-Bedard, Dave Foster, and Kylie Caraway

Project Description

From our mad lib cards – proximity (sensor), DC Motor (actuator), paper(material), and angry (adjective) – we created an animated diorama depicting a boat in an angry sea. We used two DC motors: one that makes the cyclone revolve, and the other making a small paper boat with a miniature sailor move up and down. As people get closer to the piece, the motors increase speed, giving the audience the all mighty power to control the elements.

We decided on an agitated sea because we wanted something that expressed anger in a way that’s symbolic, but also playful and relatable in a representational way. As water is capable of taking on many forms, we wanted to experiment with various ways to form paper. The properties of paper we amplify are its lightness and malleability, or how it can be folded and cut to reach its volumetric potential.

Project Context

Reactive artworks are something that always seem to pique the public interest. At UQAM’s

Fashion School in Montreal, one of the most famous designers and professors is Ying Gao. She focuses on interactive garments often exploring ideas such as emotions and other intangibles. In that optic, we wanted to capture or question the feeling of power in relation to something that it activated by proximity. Indeed, the viewer becomes the reason the sea is agitated, making them question their agency, as they literally move waves from their sheer proximity. This reactive agitation looks like a form of agency too, then putting in perspective the concept of agency as a whole. 

Another artist that has inspired us is Zimoun. Located in Bern, Switzerland, he creates installations that evoke emotional, yet effortless soundscapes using raw materials and numerous motors. While we decided to create a visual rather than audible piece, Zimoun’s works depict an effective method of combining minimalism and simple components to create raw emotion.

After pondering the various permutations of the word “angry,” and following our artistic inspirations, we decided that rather than direct “angry” gestures or movements, we should go with a more abstract appela to the idea.  Various natural phenomena produce what are called “angry” scenes or situations.  We decided to fall back on the old sailor’s description of the sea being “angry under stormy conditions (specifically about force 7 on the Beaufort Scale as a gale at this level triggers small craft warnings in most ports worldwide).  This

would be achievable with available materials as a diorama with mobile elements that could hopefully capture the intensity of such a scene.

We were intrigued by the idea of creating an automaton using paper. Fourteen Balls Automata provided various pieces we used for both inspiration, as well as a guide to explore various techniques to make an automaton work properly. We also used Robives.com Design for Paper Animation as a resource for mechanisms in paper animations. We specifically used Rob Ive’s cam system guide to make our boat move up and down in our diorama.


ARCSTREET.COM. “‘FASHIONING THE INTANGIBLE’ : YING GAO CONCEPTUAL CLOTHING / NOV 14 – DEC 15, 2013 / ‘UQAM CENTRE DE DESIGN’ / MONTREAL, QUEBEC – Arc Street Journal / En Mode Art Fashion Design Style Music Architecture News.” Arc Street Journal, 18 Nov. 2013, www.arcstreet.com/article-fashioning-the-intangible-ying-gao-conceptual-clothing-nov-14-dec-15-2013-uqam-centre-de-121181666.html.

Huler, Scott. Defining the Wind the Beaufort Scale, and How a Nineteenth Century Admiral Turned Science into Poetry. Crown Publishers, 2004.

Ives, Rob. “Mechanism.” Robives.com Designing Paper Animations, edited by Rob Ives, 2017, www.robives.com/. Accessed 5 Oct. 2017.

Smith, Matt. “Automata.” Fourteen Balls Automata, edited by Matt Smith, www.fourteenballstoy.co.uk/index.htm. Accessed 5 Oct. 2017.

“Zimoun : Compilation Video 3.7 (2017).” Vimeo.com, uploaded by Zimoun, Aug. 2017, vimeo.com/7235817. Accessed 5 Oct. 2017.