the Bureau of cyberSurreal investigation

Case Study — cyberSurreal Stream 2.2 — Exhibit B — moneyShot Bouquet

moneyshot bouquet

I forget how this idea originally came to me. But I think moneyShot Bouquet primarily derives from the very notion of ‘Art Gone Bad’ I originally imagined as my ‘Provocative Objects’ series.

I own this found frame. Beautiful wood with a slight gold-painted surface. And I wanted to make a ‘painting’ with this frame and some cheesy craft flowers you can find at Michael’s. The ‘painting‘ — more of sculptural object, really — would simply put these 2 elements together, this bouquet stuck in the frame attached to a gallery wall. And then I wanted the painting to squirt gallerygoers when they walked up to look at the painting.

I guess the project could be considered a prank. Sort of like the offensive waterpump flower a derelict clown might wear to trick people with — and as the artist in this case, I guess I would be considered the non-present clown ‘behind the scenes’. An experienced composer that quite conveniently avoided the potential confrontation from any water-soaked art-fans at the exhibit.

I didn’t really know how to make this little ‘one-off’ interaction come to life, so I posted a question to the Boston Dorkbots website:

Hey y’alL 
looking for some quick suggestions from the dorkbots community on building a machine that squirts 
i’ve brainstormed it a bit, but do NOT know the real logistics behind making something like this 
the main idea is pretty simple 
it will actually be a wall-mounted, painting-like object on the wall that squirts the viewer ala the old skool flower on a clown’s lapel ... a bit of a ‘gag’ painting i guess ... art strikes back and all 
so, you as the viewer walk up to the painting and get a little water in the eye ( and elsewhere ) ... proximity, distance detection and such ... i’ll be using an Arduino as the microprocessor and thought of these 2 potentials for the squirt part: 
There’s a new toy for about $30 called ‘The Screature’ ... here’s the link: ... 
if you view the demo, you’ll see the Screature Interactive Dinosaur does 2 things, screech and squirt. Squirting happens when a user touches part of the dinosaur, but I’m thinking the trigger mechanics can be played w/ a bit, right? 
Windshield washer mechanism ... aight, this one is a bit ‘out there’ in that it is probably a LOT more industrial and will shoot a LOT more water ... but I think this is what I’m aiming for ( pun intended ). 
Big laughs. Or big frustration. 
Anyhow, if anyone has any insight or experience trying to make electronics squirt, please let me know. 
I’d love to move forward on this project and will be researching online a bit before the trial and error 
portion of my journey. 
Thanks in advance. 

Needless to say — I got an interesting array of answers to this question. The concept of squirting the viewer proved to a lot more controversial than I thought, at least from a developer’s perspective. Maybe even more controversial than the actual, eventual implementation in the gallerySpace.

Some dorkbotters loved the idea and described scenarios and projects that cartoonishly incorporated similar water-shooting mechanisms in rather delightfully prankish ways. Others accused me of immaturity and berated the project, denouncing me in this semi-public, online forum, which was kind of fun for me.

After a bit of a hunt I bumped across a cool tutorial out on Instructables.

And the rest, my friends, is cyberSurreal investigatory history.

Fred, Alex and I spent an afternoon decoding and recoding to make the magic happen. Alex and I tested out the prototype in one of the classrooms at Massart and quickly discovered that entirely ludicrous amounts of streaming cold water shot from our devious mechanics. One would think the logical executive decision to tweak for a more reasonable blast should rightfully follow these important initial tests of the beta, however I insisted on keeping both the amount of triggered streams { the bouquet randomly ‘aims’ the Senso and shoots 3 rather volumous ‘squirts’ per iR heat triggering of the system } and the douse per shot at rather ridiculously exaggerated levels of watery fun. No mercy. This is no War on Terror, after all. Everything for Art! Fun for Art and Art for All!

Fred Wolflink and Alexander Wang tirelessly assisted me with many of my cyberSurreal microelectronic-induced and other lesser-fidelity prototypes throughout my DMI career, including: moneyShot Bouquet, skypeChrist 3000, the Laugh Observation Library excerpt and other projects

moneyShot Bouquet debuted at Provocative Objects on November 12, 2010 at The Doran Gallery. An interaction that I thought might instigate anger, rage and general bouts of public humiliation proved to inspire quite the opposite set of feelings from our gallerygoing vicitims.

I mean, let’s face it, the moneyShot is a simultaneously frightening and hilarious gesture, right? The ultimate pornorrific compliment cum insult { pun intended, of course }. And here, in the form of water, my ‘painting’ seemingly ‘winked’ in a flirtatious way with the art viewer. Many people laughed or tried to dodge the waterStream. A significant portion of participants endured the art attack to try and figure out how it worked and if it was really aiming at them. And one couple, in particular, played with each other in front of a clearly established spraySpace zone, actually pushing and pulling, sometimes carrying each other toward their eventually wet, mutual demise. Such utter joy to see them lovingly laughing together in this playful game they had discovered, a reaction that I really hadn’t previously anticipated myself at all.

Another important key finding coming directly out of the psychoSocial, interactive experimentation conducted through moneyShot Bouquet completely took everyone back at the Bureau of cyberSurreal investigation by surprise. These results seem to belong equally to the squirting prototype and to the larger context of the Provocative Objects exhibit-event.

note: prior to opening ‘the box’ to the general public, I set up a mop and bucket close to the installation, anticipating the nearly-certain slippery consequences of moneyShot Bouquet. I knew I’d need to keep The Doran somewhat safe during the show and figured I would just come back to the installation every once in a while to clean up any watery aftermath from the flower painting.

At a certain point, my subconsciously induced mopStation was put to better use by my good colleague Tania Ostorga. In a totally improvised an unplanned manner, Tania, as a concerned cyberSurreal citizen out at the show, decided to mop up the potentially dangerous liquid output from moneyShot Bouquet. In the middle of mopping { as reported back by Tania } she looked up to discover a small crowd of people gathered around her to watch her ‘performance’. Somehow, due to the rather interdisciplinary and ‘cyberSurreal’ event design of the evening, these visitors to The Doran began to look at this seemingly ordinary activity — mopping the floor — as something special and perhaps artistic. We can chalk this extra, surprise finding up to many contextually-related factors: some subconsciously orchestrated levels of confusion; a somewhat purposeful ‘blurring’ of the line between reality and fiction, between what is truth vs art { or artifice }; an inspired opening of the mind to suddenly look at anything and everything as a potential delivery vehicle for creative expression.

All of these interpretations of the facts are still being discussed at the Bureau. But it is just this sort of unintended and potentially unfathomable micro-experience within the larger experience we hope to both create and discover through our investigations. Both Tania’s inspired, improvised actions and the awestruck wonder of the viewer, the betweenState positioning of the human mind somewhere in the continuum that moves from reality to some form of Surreality through subconsciously-driven systemsPlay.

These moments point to a major success for cyberSurrealism.

I need to also share one final observation to note regarding moneyShot Bouquet that points to even further delight and conceptual depth for this particular piece. Just a bit of analytical reflection for your consideration.

Here is a machine that, even in its elegant simplicity, truly attacks the species that invented it. A truly subversive prototype in every way. A technological object disguised as a humorous art object, sitting on the wall like a tender art trap. The infrared sensor detects human heat. And once a human presence is detected the painting aims and shoots, aims and shoots, aims and shoots. Maniacal range. Mellifluous streams of water quite randomly shooting into the crowd. A sort of safe, yet vicious gesture, nearly reminiscent of something Breton once said:

“The purest surrealist act is walking into a crowd with a loaded gun and firing into it randomly”

— André Breton

As a counterpoint then, perhaps the purest cyberSurrealist act is to create scenarios inspiring random fits of laughter.

DMI and Aggressive Technology colleague Tania Ostorga voluntarily helps mop up the aquatic, post-coital aftermath of moneyShot Bouquet at ‘Provocative Objects’

more words on moneyshot bouquet
at provocative.objects: the extradition

artists, scientists, technologist, designers, metamusicians, fishermen, transcendental lurkers + professional hockeyPlayers introduce new inventions + fantastically wonderful creativity to our earthly universe at an every quickening pace … i have no doubt that our intentions, at first, are quite innocent, perhaps even naïve on many levels

these objects — our creations — inanimate or somehow electronically alive + socially responsive to our human beat … these objects are typically meant to serve us — to compliment + extend our capabilities — to aesthetically + haptically please us, to seduce us even

but what happens when our technological creations, upon deeper investigation, actually prove to be harmful to us? what happens when the original dreams of our ‘progress’ get all titty-twisted + start to injure instead of assist? what happens when our art attacks us? what if the very heart of the objects we’ve created — these provocative objects — become infected with a spirit of evil?

special thanks

I dreamt up this nightmare scenario of a project a while back. Some controversy arose when I started to poke around the web to find a way to make it happen. Luckily I am blessed to have some amazing, generous + talented colleagues up at Dynamic Media Institute at MassArt.

I can only begin to describe the utterly astounding patience + know-how Alex Wang has brought to this project + my seaShell Telephony series of cyberSurreal prototypes toward my thesis. He is truly an inspiration + I continually learned from him on a daily basis { Read more about Alex and see his portfolio }.

I got to know Fred Wolflink through our Summer Processing class with Colin Owens + Scott Murray { also equally amazing to work with, just not directly involved in this prototype }. Fred brings both a deep understanding of the microelectronics involved as well as the conceptual insight needed to guide, enhance + strengthen project work. He walked through every step of the original Instructables code borrowed to start the moneyShot project + then, over the course of an afternoon, iteratively walked through the incredible minutia of each component used to build out the prototype.

Without this collected, interdepartmental community of sheer genius + mentorship I would never have been able to build out this piece + make this splash in the rich + exciting Boston microelectronics + art scene. I feel triple blessed to work + collaborate with the likes of Alex + Fred { Colin, Scott and David too, among others } + thank you for your particular efforts on moneyShot Bouquet ;]