digidrench is an interactive video installation in which the user controls video playback by filling and draining three tanks. As the water level rises, the video plays forward; as it lowers, the video reverses. The user gets to interact with the very same materials that are used on screen. As the user pours, liquid falls on screen. There is a direct correlation between the user's action and the video content, allowing for more playful and meaningful engagement with the project.
Our assignment was to develop a media controller. Early in our brainstorms, we chose water as the project's theme and instrument of control. After hours of discussion, we settled on using fluid levels to control the video playback. The user can manipulate both the speed and direction of playback. The faster you pour the water into the tank, the faster the video plays. Draining the tank reverses the footage. The tank's design mirrors the aspect ratio of the video screen. The inspiration for the video clips came from researching slow motion video of fluid.
The digidrench tanks are made from sheets of acrylic, which were bent and affixed with PVC cement. Some pieces were cut manually with a band saw and others were laser cut. Plastic water cooler spigots allow the tanks to drain.
Inside the tanks, fluid level sensors relay water levels to an Arduino, which in turn passes those values along to a computer running Max with Jitter. Max uses the data from the Arduino to "scrub" the video playheads back and forth.
We shot the video on a cold October day on a rooftop in Brooklyn, NY. The liquid is a mix of 2% milk and generous amounts of food coloring. Each subject is doused with a full gallon of liquid. The video was shot with a Canon 7D at 60 frames per second, slowed down to 24 frames per second in Final Cut Pro, and then exported as 30 second clips. The clips are aligned so that the first drop of liquid hits the subjects' heads at the one second mark.
digidrench appeared at ITP's Winter Show 2011 on December 18th and 19th, 2011
digidrench was featured at The Gizmodo Gallery on December 9th, 2011.
"I found this display to be rather interesting because it seemed like a playfully simple concept overall, on top of which it incorporated an element of interactivity between the physical and the digital."
-Digital Art & New Media
"Fairly simple in practice but the effect is pretty amazing!"
digidrench was created for Scott Fitzgerald's Fall 2011 Physical Computing class at New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program (NYU ITP).