Umbrella Monster

May 9, 2010 at 10:34 pm (Contemporary Art in the Public Realm)

We had our class performance debut this weekend as part of the CATDIG Festival – – held on Catherine St. in Limerick.

We had two fifteen minute street performances – One on Saturday at four and one today at two.

The main idea was to have little umbrella domes that would merge into one big umbrella monster split apart and then come together again. We added a Mexican umbrella wave and a moment where we were completely still to see the audiences reaction. The finale saw us running frantically together forming a giant dome roaring and shouting to a frantic and crazy beat from our drummers.

The Music Tech. Guys provided the beat using water bottles and drumsticks. Lette led the pack with her big conga drum or is it called a djembe…. not sure which one it is!?? The sound was fantastic even though we had to battle a band on Saturday that was playing down the road in Bourke’s pub.

We had been trying to choreograph our performance for the past few weeks but things only seemed to come together this week with everybody’s hard work and great ideas. We came up with the idea of the masks to add a dramatic effect to the piece.

Saturday saw lots of people on the street with a great buzz around the place. This really helped us with our performance and the energy we put into it. Of course the beautiful weather also helped to lift our spirits! We were very lucky. The umbrellas proved very ironic under the circumstances!
Today was quieter and had a more relaxed atmosphere. The timing was a lot better and I think we really perfected the performance. The spectators gave us a big round of applause even though they had some confused and puzzled expressions! A nearby dog particularly liked the drumming and barked along to the whole thing. It was quite funny!
I really enjoyed the two performances because they were something I had never done before. I am by no means a dancer or performer but I found myself getting into the showmanship of it and feeding off the kinetic energy that was built up.

Here are some individual poses from our ninjas!!


Permalink Leave a Comment

Patient Feedback in Milford

May 9, 2010 at 8:39 pm (Thesis)

I will be working closely with Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy staff in Milford Care Centre along with the assistive technology department (See Assistive Devices Blog) at the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC).
The Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) specialise in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of children and adults with a wide range of physical conditions. The clinic also offers a range of training, development and day activity options to adults.

Following a meeting with one of the Physiotherapists from Milford, I gathered together some questions that the staff might ask the patients while on the MOTOmed bike in the form of an informal chat/discussion.
I really want to get a feel for what the patients like and don’t like. Maybe they have a favourite location they have been to and would like to revisit or they really want to go somewhere exotic or different.

After the staff members brief the patient on the project, they will then ask the following questions.

Here are few questions I put forward

· Do you have a favourite place in the world, if so where?
· Do have a favourite location in Ireland, if so, where?
· Do you any travel stories you would like to share?
· How do you feel about computers?
· What is your level of computing ability?
· Would you be open to trying new things with technology? If so what would be your conditions, e.g. make sure its simple and straightforward, interesting and
fun, information etc?
· Would you prefer a story being told with the video/images or would music be more enjoyable.

Obviously there are different levels of ability and cognition within the Milford Care Centre so some patients will be unable to participate. Hopefully there will be enough feedback from a broad range of patients to adequately meet their needs and wants.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Alternative Haptic Devices for People with Disabilities – Assistive Technology

May 8, 2010 at 9:58 am (Thesis)

Assistive technology (AT) is a generic term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities and includes the process used in selecting, locating, and using them. –

Some of the assistive devices on the market at the moment are very impressive and are currently giving me inspiration for my own haptic devices that I will need for my project. There are broad range of devices for the elderly also available.

The devices I am looking at for my project will be a switch and a hand-held remote control.

The switch is activated when a patients applies pressure using whatever part of their body is strongest e.g. head, neck, elbow, knee etc.

The remote control for my project will have a stand, which can be placed anywhere the patient desires.

I will collaborate with the Central Remedial Clinic in Raheen in Limerick to assist me with the design of my device.

The following video illustrates how a simple switch can control a remote control and in turn control a dvd player. The choice of music is a bit strange but it is a good example of the power of a switch

Click here for a simple explanation of alternative devices and how they work with computers

This is an emotive and poignant video outlining how assistive and augmented devices can benefit people both young and old.

I love the way she talks about people and interaction, innovation and independence, which is something able-bodied people take for granted including myself!

The more I look into these devices and how they can have such a profound effect on people with disabilities the more I want to learn! Technological advancements in the past ten years alone have opened so many doors for people with disabilities that would have otherwise remain shut. It is such a privilege to be able to help people with their rehabilitation and just their general happiness! To have the power to create something that patients will benefit greatly from is extremely overwhelming and if I’m honest a bit scary!

Permalink Leave a Comment

Projection Show – Plassey House 14th April

April 17, 2010 at 12:20 pm (Contemporary Art in the Public Realm)

On the 14th April at Plassey House in UL our masters class, along with music technology, held a fifteen-minute projection show. Over 150 people attended the show including the president of the university. The whole night was a great success and the feedback we received was incredible and unexpected!
Each group choose a particular element from:

· Earth
· Wind
· Fire
· Water
· Spirit

We choose to project fire. The first step was deciding what type of story we wanted to tell with our projection. We sketched out a storyboard to illustrate our story step by step.

The following were the steps involoved……
1. A phoenix would fly across the screen.
2. Lightning would appear from the phoenix setting each part of the building on fire.
3. The flames would get bigger and bigger.
4. Rooms would then start appearing from within the flames.
5. The bathroom would appear first revealing someone running from the bathroom in a towel with the corridor on fire. Then fade out.
6. The kitchen would appear next with somebody trying to put out a chip-pan fire. Then fade out.
7. Sitting room would appear next showing a girl on the couch with the room on fire around her and she is completely unaware of it. Then fade out.
8. Fire blazes for a few seconds.
9. Phoenix rises from the left and lightning appears and enlarges the flames.
10. The last lightning bolt extinguishes the fire.
11. The last scene is the phoenix flying off to the right.

Special thanks to the actors in the videos, namely Lette and my mum!

The soundtrack then needed to be added. Here’s where the Music Technology Masters students applied their expertise to make the show come alive. One general soundtrack was created for the entire show and then each group would edit this to suit their projection. Sound effects were added at certain points to add an extra dimension to each element.

There were some unexpected technical difficulties but only at the very end. Most of the show had been displayed already so it wasn’t too much of a disappointment.

The people that attended seemed to really enjoy it and get pleasure from something we had worked so laboriously on. I had never done anything like this before so it gave me a real sense of pride and achievement I loved seeing the fruits of our labour on such a big stage and in front of such a big crowd. There is discussion of maybe showing it again for some events such as the Special Olympics held on campus in June. It would be wonderful to be able to have another show and it would give us the opportunity to perfect our videos and make the show even more enjoyable.

More vid links….
More will follow shortly!

Next up is the umbrella monster….coming soon!

Permalink Leave a Comment

Guided Imagery

March 30, 2010 at 10:15 am (Thesis)

When researching related topics on my dissertation, I found the topic of guided imagery seemed to have some parallels with it.
It is an alternative therapy used to help people with various problems or illnesses. For example it can lower blood pressure, lower stress levels and can help you to reach goals such as weight loss and quitting smoking.
How it works is you imagine a certain image and all associated senses with this image where the goal is to get you into a relaxed and focussed state of mind. The idea is that you mind and body are connected so if you can alter your state of mind relating to your illness or goals it will have a positive physiological response.
This guided imagery has a similar concept to what I am building for my dissertation project. (See Dissertation Blog). The idea behind what I am building is that patients will have an enjoyable experience during the display. It will relax and promote feelings of joy and happiness with both palliative care patients and the elderly. The use of images and stories could have the ability to aid with the patients state of mind and induce a more peaceful mood.
For more information on this see links below.

Guided Imagery Simply Explained……

Here’s a link to a video on Guided Imagery. I’ve tried this and its so effective!……

Permalink Leave a Comment

What it means to be a designer.

March 29, 2010 at 4:24 pm (Uncategorized)

For me being a designer means creating something that people will find interesting and fun. Its great to have the power to create something that will impact on people lives whether it’s for fun or for a purpose.
As a designer I really enjoy manipulating photos and images and creating something different and visually interesting. I have designed wedding invitations and cards for friends which I love doing. If I have time I enjoy, making photomontages and scrapbooks for family and friends. It’s so nice to give a finished product to people and see their reactions to things you have spent time and effort creating.
Something I would like to do more of is video. I don’t have a lot of experience with it but I’m learning more and more as this year goes on. It helps having great creative people in the class that are always willing to help out.
Web design is another hobby I really enjoy. Ideally I would like to get some industry experience in this area and improve my skills as a web designer, although I wouldn’t hold me breathe in the current environment!
I find designing very challenging because as a designer you have a certain vision and want to apply this to your design but your customer may want something else. You have to have the ability to relate to what your doing and put yourself in their shoes. You also have to be able to really listen to what they want and create something representative of this. The biggest challenge I think is trying to find a middle ground to merge your ideas with theirs without compromising your vision or their expectations.

Permalink Leave a Comment


March 29, 2010 at 3:59 pm (Uncategorized)

Mindmapping is an extremely handy way to organise your words and ideas around a central keyword.
I had a look at mindmapping and applied it to this semester in college.

I find this very useful as I work in a very visual way and I like to see things represented using words, colours and images. It gives me quick and easy feedback on a certain topic. With college it helps me to gather and organise my thoughts and see what tasks need to be performed and how many. It also gives me a way to clarify and solve problems with things in general. The real beauty of the mindmap is that it’s so easy to learn. Anybody can use them and cheaply. There is no need for technology or particular software even though these are available.
Here are a few other examples of mindmapping….

Permalink Leave a Comment

Art Installation 26/03/10

March 27, 2010 at 4:59 pm (Contemporary Art in the Public Realm)

Yesterday we had our art installation in the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance in UL. There were five groups from our interactive media class with each group using archive material and presenting it in an interesting and interactive way.
We choose to build musical chairs to add a fun element to our work.

The idea was that when somebody sat on one chair, the audio would be activated and the video would be projected in front of the chairs. Then if another person sat on the chairs more video and audio would join and so forth for the other two chairs. We wanted people to feel like they had control of what they were seeing and let them create their own vision. The nature of the video we created was very hypnotic and immersive and we felt had the ability to draw people in and really experience the archive material in a new way.

Technical Stuff….
To start we choose material both audio and video from the archives. We then manipulated the videos in Logic Pro to give them a kaleidoscopic feel. Here are a few examples….

We choose a flute, piano, harp and some vocals for our audio and blended them to interact with the video. The software used to do this was Max Msp. The next step was to build the Arduino, which would communicate between our chairs and the computer. Here’s Brian trying to attach the wires for the Arduino…

We had four chairs so four input/outputs on the Arduino. Each of the four wires on the Arduino went to each chair. We concealed cabling with duck tape and decorated it with piano keys.

Each chair had a concealed micro switch, which activated when pressure was applied. We used a spring loaded hole punch to ensure that the switch would activate but not be damaged when somebody sat on a chair.

These switches and hole punches were concealed using padding and decorated upholstery. The legs of the chairs were decorated with stencilled musical notes, white on black. We choose to place a UV light in front of the chairs to make the notes and piano keys standout.

The video was displayed using two projectors mounted on the wall behind. The use of two projectors really gave an extra dimension to our display as it spanned nearly the entire wall.

Some Thoughts….
The feedback we received from people was really positive. Children in particular loved the seats and kept bouncing from one to the other. They seemed enthralled by the video and kept trying to touch it.
Micheal O’Suilleabhain came to visit our exhibition and was very impressed by our installations. He enjoyed our audio so much he even started singing along with it, which we managed to capture on video! Link coming soon…
He suggested getting a piper to play along with our tracks or a contemporary dancer to add something extra to the experience. It was fantastic to see somebody of his calibre enjoying and getting involved with something we had created.
Overall we felt people really took delight in the whole experience with some people returning a few times to experience our installation again and again. This was great reinforcement that we had created something interactive, fun and interesting for people to see. The only downside was we could only keep it there for one day and taking down after that short time was kind of a let down. There is some consolation in the fact that we will get to display it again in a few months at the buildings official opening, so that’s something to look forward to…J

Permalink Leave a Comment

Dissertation Proposal

February 16, 2010 at 5:53 pm (Thesis)

Gillian Holmes – 0044504


The Use of Visual Displays to Benefit Patients in the Milford Care Centre


Milford Care Centre is a voluntary organisation that incorporates the following services:

  • Milford Hospice – with specialist in-patient and community based palliative care services
  • Milford Day Care Centre – older people and palliative care
  • Milford Nursing Home.

Milford is the main provider of palliative care in the Midwest region.

Palliative care aims to provide the best quality of life possible for a terminally ill patient and their family, including keeping the patient free from pain as far as is possible. It responds to physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs and extends to support in bereavement.  Whilst palliative care is aimed primarily at cancer patients, patients with motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis and HIV may be encountered in hospices. Patients with these diseases, however, remain a small minority of the total.

The symptoms of these illnesses include exhaustion, pain, fever, nausea, weaking of muscles, weakness and stiffening of the arms and legs. Blurred vision, loss of colour vision, visual and motor problems, depression, anxiety. These symptoms need to be accounted for when designing this new visual artefact.

Within the Milford care centre there is an Art Department, which is one of the few arts in healthcare initiatives in the country.  It is a permanent and integrated part of the multi disciplinary team, encompassing both art therapy and recreational approaches.

Art therapy may be an effective means of improving quality of life in the elderly. There is evidence that the non-directed use of visual art (pictures) as a means of encouraging communication among elderly nursing home residents may increase well-being, happiness, peacefulness, satisfaction, and calmness. It may also reduce blood pressure and improve medical health status with regard to reported dizziness, fatigue, pain, and the use of laxatives.  Also for cancer patients, art therapy may reduce pain, anxiety and other associated symptoms.

The care centre has a gym area where patients go to get physical therapy and to gain the maximum level of independence whatever their illness or disability.  Within the gym they have two MOTOmed bikes, an example is shown below.

These patented MotoMed bikes are designed to help patients with limited mobility to proactively contribute to the success of their physical therapy treatment with safe and effective movement therapy that enhances their muscle strength, and improves their confidence.

They provide:

    • Greater flexibility of muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints
    • Improved circulation, digestion and metabolism
    • Reduced fluid retention, swelling and cramping
    • Lower blood pressure
    • Reduced osteoporosis

Positive effects of exercise including self-confidence, improved mental health and reduced pain!

Staff members introduced the idea of linking the exercise bikes in the physiotherapy gym to imagery so that patients can experience the feeling of a journey.  Patients with serious illness can often feel confined and trapped, this could provide options for them to visit certain destinations, or visual landscapes, which could enhance the patients well being and give them a therapeutic space in which they feel safe and relaxed.

We had a meeting in Milford with four students from the University of Limerick, the course director and staff members to discuss some ideas for this collaboration.  We didn’t decide on anything concrete as the project is in the initial stages.  We were asked to go away and come up with ideas for this new project.  I have outlined some of my own below.


The idea for this project is to have a visual display unit mounted on the wall in front of the MOTOmed bikes.  This could also be a projection on the wall depending on the equipment available.

The visual display could consist of still images in a slideshow format or a video displaying various locations from around the world including local and regional areas also.  We could even include outer space?

The display could move according to turns on the road, riding uphill etc.  This will have to be tested, as nausea is a factor with the patients.

The display could be controlled from a panel on the bike similar to the existing panel with large buttons for people with limited mobility.

Another idea could be to have a notice board beside the display to see where people have gone and when, almost like a travel blog.  Patients could see popular destinations and some options they mightn’t have even thought of.

A print out of the journeys could be available for the patients to look at after they finish their journey to see where they went and how long they spent there, etc.  This could be especially good for older patients who have more of an affinity with paper than technology.  They could share the information with friends and encourage them to participate.  This also presents an opportunity for relationships to develop between patients.

For the audio there could be an option to listen to headphones or to have the sound coming from the unit for everyone to hear.

The option could be there for the listeners to upload their own music (depending on the patients mobility and resources available).

The audio needn’t necessarily be music it could be a story regarding the area.  Maybe this story could be from a patient telling a story about their experiences in a certain location.  This way the patient feels like they are participating and part of the overall project.

Equipment Needed

o        Projector (depending if we choose this method)

o        Visual Display Unit (depending if we choose this method)

o        Computer

o        Software packages

o        Headphones

o        Microphones/Speakers

o        Panels to attach to the bike

o        Printer


We are hoping to keep the costs to a minimum by using recycled materials, the universities computer resources, donations and limerick freecycle group.  This group is part of The Freecycle Network, a nonprofit organization and a movement of people interested in keeping good stuff out of landfills.

The audio needn’t necessarily be music it could be a story regarding the area.  Maybe this story could be from a patient telling a story

Permalink Leave a Comment

Hello and Welcome to my blog!

February 15, 2010 at 11:17 am (Uncategorized)

Hello this is my first blog on wordpress. More to come….:)

Permalink Leave a Comment