Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Measure of Discontent: Foot Tap Amplifier

Foot Tap Amplifier from Michael Kontopoulos on Vimeo.

A system for monitoring nervous foot-tapping. Inspired by “Restless Leg Syndrome”, this system addresses the uncontrollable urge to relieve bodily stress by shaking the legs and/or tapping the feet.
The wearable component consists of a leg-brace which detects acceleration caused by tapping and shaking. Additional electronics are housed in a tethered carrying case, which can be rested on the back of a chair. When a tap is detected, a wireless signal is transmitted to a nearby stationary unit, which strikes a cinder block once with a chisel. Over time, the nervous tapping of the individual is externalized and visualized by the gradual reduction of the concrete.
Part of a series called “Measure of Discontent”, from my MFA work at UCLA’s department of Design and Media Arts.
This work stems from the concept of measuring and representing anxiety. I was inspired by certain countries’ efforts to impose quantifiable values to the “happiness” of its people—Notably, the tradition of Gross National Happiness in Bhutan. Or even contemporary magazine articles that aim to report the worlds “happiest countries.”
It follows that if you can measure happiness than you can also measure unhappiness. Taking this as my point of departure, this work investigates the idea of quantifying the subjective—in this case, national anxiety.


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