Year 2 - Projects

Year 2 - Projects

Year 3 - Projects

Year 3 - Projects

Year 4 - Final Project

Year 4 - Final Project

Year 4 - Final Project

Changes and Additions

I have managed to show my work to a number of people recently who have given me some great feedback. In the final weeks before submission I had some time to take the feed back and make some changes to my piece. A number of points were made, mostly about the code, the "locking" of boats that prevents further development, the flow of boats under islands and the blurring of large amounts of lines.

To begin with, the number of boats were reduced to clear up the screen and allow people to follow individual boats.

To prevent boats getting stuck I gave them a time limit. When they run out of time the boats would be removed and replaced by a new one.

The border around islands was increased to provide more force to stop boats traveling past them. There is still an issue here though it isn't fixable in the time scale. There is an issue in the disconnect between physical and digital islands. The boats can only see the center of the islands where as the user can see the full contour.

To help invite people to use the piece I created an attracter mode that will activate after a length of time without interaction. When in this mode text will appear onscreen saying to "move the islands" and the screen will display a different style. 


To help explain what is on the surface of my work I have created a booklet revealing the hidden layers of my project. I have also added new modes to the digital piece that when selected will present the different layers of the piece.

A photo posted by Simon Sloan (@simonsloan) on

Both will be useful tools for explaining and describing the piece. I am also looking into adding an "attracter" that will reveal these layers when no one has used the piece for some time. There will be some text on the screens explaining how to interact or explaining more about what the piece is. 

Research / Development Booklet

Using the online service blurb, I printed a collection of research and development from throughout this project. The majority of the content is present in this blog however the analog format and curated posts makes for a simple and refreshing addition to the project. It works as an piece by itself to add more understanding to the project or it can be used as a tool by myself to explain certain aspects in more detail.

A photo posted by Simon Sloan (@simonsloan) on
A photo posted by Simon Sloan (@simonsloan) on

Edinburgh Maker Faire

I had the great opportunity to take my project to Edinburgh maker faire.  It was set up for one day and was used by visitors from 10 till 5. There was a large range of feedback given as there was a diverse crowd. Ranging from children to elderly users, people skilled in coding and people with no digital background, all finding different points of interest or questions about the project . 

It was great to see children engaging with the piece, you could see there interest and they would often stop for a few minutes and experiment with it. When told that the location of the islands was important they would make giant clusters of islands or spread them out.

There were many users that found interest in the hand outlining effect. This often lead to the idea that your hand could also be an island. This was unintended and I was thinking of removing the effect although now I have seen that it adds a level of engagement, incorporating the user in the enviroment.  

Is it a game?

It was a common question for people to ask if it was a game. I can understand why they would think this as I sourced a number of games in my research and have based a large part of the physical design on the idea of a god simulator, putting the user above the enviroment with control. The answer however is no, there isn't a score or goal to be archived. I would like to have the time to develop more game elements into the project but this is not my main focus at the moment. 

How random is it?

This was a question that interested me and is very valid. The answer is only a small portion, the wind and tide flow field are the only "random" element to the movement of the boats. The issue is that this one rule has a powerful effect on all other rules and the final outcome. Ultimately it is the positions of the islands that controls the piece putting the user in control.

What does it do? How can it be used? Where can it be applied?

This was a question that came up quite a lot and is a question I found both difficult and frustrating to answer. The simple answer is that it is art, it provokes a question rather than providing an answer. In this case the questions revolve around the concept of networks, connections and communities.


To hold the screen in place I wanted to make a frame. This would fill a number of roles. The main would be to contain the screens and protect them. By fitting a sheet of perspex over the top of the displays they wont get scratched. This also allows the four screens to combine into one flat landscape.

The other role to consider was the effect this would have on users. I wanted to make something that would invite people in to use it. I also wanted to create some sort of "sandbox" effect that would make the user feel like they were looking over a smaller landscape.

The inlaid screens are very effective, with enough screen visible for people to become interested though enough hidden to make people move closer and lean into the table.

One of the sources of inspiration for this was god sim games, like populous shown below. These type of games featured a top down perspective, giving the user a large view of the terrain. Unlike most games before god sims didn't have a main character. Instead autonomous agents, like villagers walked around and did what they thought was best. It was the role of the user to change the landscape to protect, help and lead this agents to success.

Most of the inner workings are on display, a computer, wires and a kinect camera spread from the floor up a tripod above the table. I don't feel there is any need to hide them and that by being on display it shows the space that the user is interacting with, between a camera and a screen. 

Chart and Screens

I upgraded my graphics card in my computer allowing up to four outputs. By arranging four screens flat on a table the sketch can be run and stretched over them. The chart present in the background now plays a new role of connecting the screens. As the grid, lines and details persist across the four screens they show how they share the same space.

For now this provides a large enough area to experiment with the sketch though for the final degree show I am looking into larger screens that would provide a simpler bezel.