Student - Teacher New Media Artwork Collaboration

Dyson Digital Digest
Fall 2006

Public Mood Ring: Where Art Meets Technology

Log online, pick a news story, and watch a room flood with colored light that conveys the article’s "mood." Dyson Assistant Professor of Fine Arts Will Pappenheimer’s Public Mood Ring art installation does just that. It is a new media artwork, which has been emerging for the past two decades at the uncharted the intersection of art and digital technology.

Led by Pappenheimer, this cooperative effort involved both Dyson College of Arts and Sciences and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. Pace computer science major Oz Michaeli ‘09 worked as a research assistant on Public Mood Ring, which was exhibited in ”ZeroOne San Jose: A Global Festival of Art on the Edge” in San Jose, California, this August. The festival coincided with the 13th annual symposium of the International Society for the Electronic Arts.

Public Mood Ring is a combined Internet and spatial installation. When Internet participants choose a news issue, the Adobe Flash Web application that Michaeli programmed identifies key words in the article that correspond to an emotional color. The color is then cast to bays of intense color LED lights in a large canopy, which shined brightly at the San Jose Museum of Art as part of the Festival. The installation went online via Web cast for one week in August, and will be on exhibit again this December at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Michigan.

A Unique, Practical Learning Experience

According to Michaeli, it was a fascinating project. “Right off the bat, the idea intrigued me. Putting together live news information from the Internet with an interactive Web application and remotely controlling a set of lights in a show room sounded very cool to me.” In this collaboration, Michaeli worked on the graphical interface programming while Pappenheimer oversaw the integration and construction of the installation.

Michaeli realized many benefits from this partnership: “I was able to work on an innovative project, which allowed me to put both my technical and artistic abilities to good use. I like working with Will because he allows for creative freedom and is always listening for new ideas. On this project, Will allowed me to pursue my interest in physics simulations on the computer, and we created a visualization system which used a physics engine that I wrote. One of the best things about a project like this is being able to focus on what I like―new technologies and combining them to make an interesting product―while gaining educational experience.”

Pappenheimer adds, “Michaeli will graduate with a real-world experience in the professional production and exhibition of artwork.” Michaeli is listed as co-creator of the project on Pappenheimer’s Web site.

Public Mood Ring received coverage from more than twelve public media Web sites and a major news spot on San Francisco’s 11pm NBC News. Online participants logged in from more than seventy-one countries around the world. Public Mood Ring will continue to be exhibited in venues in the United States and abroad.

Dyson's Fine Arts department has been supporting faculty, facilities, and events in this experimental media for more than a decade and is now emerging as a national and international program. Visit the Web site.


>> Fall 2006 Cover Page

Oz Michaeli ‘09

"One of the best things about a project like this is being able to focus on what I like—new technologies and combining them to make an interesting product—while gaining educational experience."
-- Oz Michaeli ‘09

Public Mood Ring Demonstration
>> See how Public Mood Ring works