All posts by staceykasu

About staceykasu

Stacey Kuznetsov is an Assistant Professor at the School of Arts, Media, and Engineering, with a joint appointment at the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering at ASU.

Screenprinting and DIY fabrication of smart materials

Screenprinting is one of the most popular DIY printing methods, which has been, for many years, used to produce static visual representations in various scales and forms.

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Part of our work at SANDS explores screenprinting as a DIY fabrication process that can be used to embed interactive properties into a range of substrates including paper, fabric, vinyl, wood, or acrylic. This project is aligned with recent trends in “smart” materials, whereby instead of using external components, responsive behavior and/or visualization is incorporated into the material itself.

Using off-the-shelf materials, we developed low-cost light-sensitive, temperature-responsive, and conductive screenprinting inks. We applied these inks in manual screenprinting to consistently reproduce photochromic, thermochromic and conducive properties across different substrates. To explore possible application areas, we held a workshop with local artists who experimented with our screenprinting methods and applied them to their practice. The workshop resulted in two interactive pieces showcased at a local gallery.

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This summer, we set out to explore the opportunities for applying DIY smart material fabrication in youth STEAM (STEM + the arts) domains. We developed a week-long summer camp module for junior high school youths as part of a Digital Culture outreach program at our university.

Curriculum

During the first day, students explored photochromism by mixing UV-responsive pigments with screenprinting inks and exploring the colors with a UV light and sun exposure. Students also worked in groups to set up screens from pre-cut vinyl stencils and make their first prints using the photochromic inks they created.

Days 2 and 3 introduced basic electronic concepts and students worked on designing their own stencils in Adobe Fireworks and screenprinting a folding switch circuit. This project also taught students the concept of “registering” or aligning multiple printed layers on the same material. The final project included a conductive strip that served as part of a folding switch, an LED and coin cell battery that completed the circuit, and a thermochromic image that was printed to decorate the switch.

Days 4 and 5 were used to create a screen-printed storyboard that illustrated a narrative created by the entire class. The inks and concepts learned in the class served as prompts for each frame of the storyboard and served as action points in the story (the final story consisted of four frames which used regular, photochromic, thermochromic, and conductive elements).

Key Takeaways

We see screenprinting as parallel to many existing, successful initiatives that incorporate tangible media into art and science curriculums. In our work, screenprinting combines elements from the fine arts, including one of the oldest forms of printmaking, with modern technologies such as vinyl cutting, and advancements in material science.

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A particularly unique feature of screenprinting is that it naturally supports collaborative making. The physical aspects of the printing process and the reproducibility of the prints enables individuals to make and keep a copy of the group project. This makes screenprinting an exciting platform for STEAM, as collaborative exploration is a key tenet of informal learning.

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Our STEAM course shows the potential of manual screenprinting as a DIY fabrication technique for youth makers. Our overall findings demonstrate several unique features of screenprinting: a low barrier to entry for smart material fabrication, a collaborative maker practice, and a creative integration of STEAM concepts.

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Antibiotic-responsive bioart art class for junior and high school students

DSC_0813.JPGAs part of the Digital Culture Summer Institute, the SANDS lab organized a bioart module for junior and high school students. Working with Cassandra Barrett and Kat Fowler, we developed a week-long summer camp course that invites students to create petri dish art using bacteria and antibiotic substances. 

Our design studio was recently approved for BSL-1 (biosafety level 1) clearance, which means we can now (officially) work with minimally risky bacteria and procedures. Fun fact: we might be the first design lab to get this clearance through the ‘proper’ layers of paperwork and inspections at our University!

Our work embraces the DIYbio movement, which aims to make biology accessible outside of professional laboratories. So during the first day of camp, we showed the students how to sterilize lab equipment with a pressure cooker. According to the CDC guidelines, this means the materials must be kept at 121°C and 15psi for 30 minutes. It’s usually a pretty exciting 30 minutes to be watching the pressure cooker.

The next few days of the camp were spent practicing aseptic (sterile) lab technique to streak plates with different pigmented bacteria. We used our trusty old DIY incubator that we made in-house to culture our art at 26C.

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We used several regular antibiotics (Ampicillin and Streptomycin) as well as antibiotic items the students brought from home to shape the growth of the bacteria. Essentially, we did the Kirby–Bauer diffusion test for antibiotic sensitivity, whereby growth is hindered around the effective antibiotics.

Our students brought an impressive and very creative range of substances to test for antibiotic properties, including handsoap, pennies, dog antibiotics, neosporin (very effective), tylenol, and toothpaste (not very effective at killing bacteria it turns out!).

We also added food coloring to our media to add a background color to the petri dish art.

For the final project, we asked the students first to sketch out the layout for their bacteria art piece, including what bacteria, background color, and antibiotic substances they wanted to use on their petri dishes. Can we say we did rapid lo-fi prototyping for biology 🙂 ?

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The resulting bacteria images inspired us to write bioart haikus, and some of these were pretty deep.

 Finally, the students used a graphic design program to convert their favorite petri dish images into stencils for vinyl cutting and screenprinting. The last day day of screenprinting was chaotic and messy, but order emerged just like the haiku said 😉

Huge thanks to everyone who helped run this awesome class, and to the creative and thoughtful students who are now excited to take a bio course at their schools even if they don’t get a printed T-shirt out of it next time.

 

AME to host TEI 2019

Our bid to host TEI 2019, the fourteenth International ACM Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction at AME has been officially accepted!

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We will host the conference in Tempe Arizona, a vibrant and growing Sonoran desert city. The main venue, the Tempe Mission Palms, is walking distance to the ASU Campus and in the heart of Tempe shops, bars, and galleries. The conference rooms, AV services, catering, palm courtyard, and rooftop pool reception deck will offer a flexible meeting space for academic and social gatherings during the conference. Phoenix is well known as an ideal winter destination, boasting average high temperatures in February ranging from 68 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit and a low chance of precipitation, while much of the rest of the northern hemisphere may be suffering from severe winter weather.

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Hybrid Materials

Our bid proposed the theme of Hybrid Materials with the aim of strengthening transdisciplinary tries across the tangible interaction, HCI, material sciences, social sciences, and arts communities. Gaining increasing momentum over the last five years, the material turn and its effect within HCI has generated development in numerous fields of interest to the TEI community.

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Over the past few years, TEI research has increasingly embraced hybridity, whether through material explorations of composites such as bioelectronic, on-body, or active materials, or theoretical inquiries into socio-technical systems as hybrid assemblies. The theme of Hybrid Materials will continue to catalyze this exciting trend of tangible interaction research at the intersection of social, technical, biological, and artistic systems. Topics focusing on hybridity in interaction design include but are not limited to:

  • active materials
  • materiality
  • material as interface
  • expressive computing
  • human perception
  • bioelectronic systems and interactions
  • on-body computing
  • new materialism
  • computer as material
  • sociotechnical assemblies
  • design things
  • seamful computing
  • hybrid sense-making
  • transdisciplinarity and HCI
  • rapid prototyping
  • participatory design
  • productive tensions in design

Thanks to everyone who helped and contributed to our bid. On behalf of AME, we are really excited and very honored to host the conference in 2019!

Our full bid document [PDF]

Heat-sensing drone test flight

As part of our heat-themed research, we are planning to use a drone to get thermal data for parts of Arizona. Nambi has been working with the DJI Matrice series drone and a FLIR Vue Pro thermal camera. This week, we did our first test flight in Papago park. The drone is impressively stable and responsive!

We are really excited about a second upcoming test to get some preliminary thermal data in urban and suburban areas a few weeks from now. Our longer-term goal is to use this high resolution fly-over data to study the Urban Heat Island Effect (UHI) in Phoenix—a phenomenon whereby cities tend to be hotter than surrounding suburbs. We are also interested in mapping microclimates in different socioeconomic neighborhoods across the city.

Summer-long solar cooking study

Phoenix is one of the hottest cities on earth, with highs regularly reaching over 110F in the summer months. Climate projections suggest that many other parts of the world are also heating up, and Phoenix presents a testbed for understanding the challenges and opportunities presented by extreme heat. One of our projects looks at creatively using heat for sustainable outcomes through solar cooking.

We focus on solar cooking as a hybrid approach that supports both adaptation—by utilizing natural heat and alleviating economic impact (indoor cooking increases AC bills); and mitigation—reducing energy consumption. Also, by relying on a natural source of energy, solar cooking offers new insights into alternative modes of food production and sustainable food systems.

As a first step, we conducted a summer-long study whereby participants built DIY solar cookers and prepared foods ranging from slow-cooked pork and chicken to bread, kale chips, brownies, beef jerky, and fruit rollups. The project culminated in a solar cooking potluck where we prepared solar cooked foods as a group. Our findings show that solar cooking is indeed feasible and often fun. However, the process is also challenging. Solar cooking currently requires time-intensive monitoring of the food temperature and re-positioning the oven towards the sun. It also requires highly-specialized knowledge, both in terms of recipe palatability and food safety.

Moving forward, we are designing an easier-to use solar oven and knowledge-sharing platform to support solar cooking as a mainstream practice. On a practical level, these new tools can alleviate the real economic difficulties posed by extreme heat as well as improve local nutrition, food knowledge, and human health. The project is also interesting from a cultural perspective as we are creating the first ever community knowledgeable around “solar cooking cuisine”. We also hope to share the work more broadly through public cookouts and exhibits to engage the public in dialogues around extreme heat, sustainable energy, and climate change.

Are you interested in experimenting with solar cooking?

Join our paid ASU research study about using extreme heat! Our initial workshop is scheduled for Wednesday, May 18 at 5.30pm on the ASU Tempe Campus.

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We are researchers in the School of Arts, Media, and Engineering at Arizona State University, looking at how heat can be utilized for sustainable outcomes. We are recruiting study participants who want to experiment with solar cooking over the summer.

We invite you to a solar cooker making workshop at the beginning of the summer. During the workshop, your will make low-cost solar cooker prototypes and brainstorm solar cooking recipes.

Over the summer, you will be asked to experiment with solar cooking recipes and share your solar cooking attempts (failed and successful). At the end of the summer, there may be a solar cooking potluck off campus.

Upon the completion of the study period (mid-August), select participants might also be invited for a semi-structured individual interview to go over their summer cooking experiences.

Study compensation:

  • $10 for each hour of your time during the workshop and interviews
  • $15 for each solar meal, including failed attempts you share (10 maximum)
  • $30 for attending the solar cooking potluck if one is organized, and bringing a solar-cooked dish to it
  • up to $50 reimbursement for any materials you purchased to make a solar cooker if you provide receipts

No prior solar cooking experience is necessary, but you must be 18 years or older to participate.

The workshop, potluck, and interviews will be audio-recorded and photographed, and all data will be anonymized. If you are interested in participating, please contact Stacey Kuznetsov (kstace@asu.edu).