Ghost Call & Ghost Detector
Made by Meijie Hu
The motivation of this project is to use technology to simulate encounters with ghosts. While sometimes the summoned beings can exert dominance over the summoners (e.g. curses, fortune-telling), the summoners sometimes can also have more agency over the summoned (e.g. ghost searching).
This stairwell in Wean Hall goes from the third floor to the eighth, with a substantial amount of space open in the middle of the spiral. After the suicide incident in 2009, it is revealed that the stairwell was previously marked by a poem that described its function:
If you're feeling like a jerk 'cause your project just won't work Go ahead and take the leap Then finally you'll get some sleep
There are many site-specific encounters with unknown beings such as haunted castles in horror stories. The phone calls are always spooky because they create a sense of surveillance by describing the summoners environments and even mental states.
The unknown messages come the most spooky and mentally suggestive when receivers are at a very fragile mental state. I set a few location triggers on IFTTT at areas on/around campus where I am more likely to be mentally weak or expose to physical risks (e.g. Maggie Morrison Hall, Schenley Bridge, Porter Hall). I then connect phone calls to the location triggers to give negative mental suggestions to the receivers that is location-specific.
Give examples of prior work, ideas and projects that influenced your design. What work informed this idea i.e. make links to the material in class and the cases/projects you uncovered in this module. Describe theory, concepts, and research from this module that relate to your outcome.
This concept is inspired by planchette writing/fuji/ouija board. Summoners are able to summon a ghost and ask for guidance/fortune-telling for life questions.
This reminds me of the drawing machine AxiDraw that draw patterns based on users control. While the agency of controlling persons is much greater in AxiDraw than Fuji writing, the machine has a great potential to be hacked by unknown beings to reveal spiritual fortune-telling.
Although I don't have access to the machine, I created a digital version of ghost drawing machine to reveal the unknown beings occupied in the locations. As you walk around, the app is able to detect the ghost that occupies the area and reveal it through drawing.
This is achieved through connecting location data with Particle usisng IFTTT, and Particle sends the data to p5js.
Since I have little experience with IoT, the project started with just playing around with IFTTT to understand how it works. I explored two different ways to make IFTTT data connect to other services that are not yet available on the platform, such as microcontroller and p5.js. After exploring both Webhooks and Particle
The theme of "the unexplained" provides a very different perspective to physical computing. While in other physical computing projects the system demands clarity, this project on the other hand is expected to be vague and glitching. Therefore, I found this project works the best with simplistic system rather than complex system, especially when a very simple and straightforward action yields unexpected results. Comparing my first and second exploration, I found my first exploration to be more visceral though much simpler because the first exploration works against our common intuition about the simple action (walking around), while the complexity of the second exploration makes it feel a result of computation rather than a random incident.
The second observation in this project is how to build up suspense. Hide the mechanism, use randomness to create suspicion first and lead to the final confirmation of horror. Combining all these qualities allows a very spooky storytelling.
This project explores our common suspicion that someone/something might be pulling the strings behind everyday technology to influence us mentally. For my explorations, the storytelling about the unknown beings behind the technology could be more detailed to evoke more spookiness. For example, like what Dan and Dina mentioned during feedback session, the locations of encounters can be more integrated into the storytelling to create a more location-specific spookiness.
Create unexplainable phenomenon using IoT.