mdp thesis

a cognitive mapping experience

The Potential Future


Update: Finally Reading to Serial


[Update: Must hook up Bluetooth BlueSMiRF directly to Arduino, using female/male headers, and not the breadboard… was causing all the connection/reading serial problems]

So after a couple hours in trying to recreate what I did a few days ago, I couldn’t get the serial to read and when I did (RX+TX) plugged in, it kept giving me an output of 0. But it was still reading, Yay!

[Update: the problem with the “0” output was having the RX on bluetooth connected! As says the RX on BlueSMiRF was giving them problems… after it was disconnected, the ouput gave out readings!]

Basically I have to do the whole restart procedure:

  1. Upload code “Mindwave_Arduino_LED_UART” to Arduino Uno (Mindwave off)
  2. Sometimes restart Arduino, otherwise open up Serial Monitor (already set to 57600)
  3. Plug in connections [IMPORTANT: use only RX on Arduino to TX on bluetooth and REMOVE RX wire] IMG_4711
  4. Then, after a few seconds, turn on Mindwave to “pair” (make sure unpaired to repair)
  5. ***Pairing them again took a while as I had to keep restarting the Mindwave on/off*** [Arduino must be on BEFORE Mindwave is turned on!]
  6. Usually should connect right away… if it keeps blinking blue and Bluetooth is red, restart Mindwave OR do entire process again (in order)
  7. Now the RX wire when connected to Arduino should light up the TX LED on board… if not, disconnect and reconnect until the LED turns on (sending serial this way or else no output)
  8. Open Serial to see “Meditation” values and averages!



> however in that tutorial it says to connect TX-TX, I hooked up TX-RX (TX on bluetooth-RX on arduino)

Statement of Practice

I am interested in artistic explorations and functional designs that attempt to create change or challenge preconceived notions of our reality. Whether revolving around art, activism and queered spaces, I seek to create spaces of facilitated dialogue around political and social issues. Basing my work around tackling social oppressions in various scopes, I take on a more actionable, queering, and gendered approach and perspective to looking at the world of impact through design.

I have been recently engaging with the contexts around wearable technology and emerging media as forms of embodiment and empowerment. As a place for potential breakthroughs in the commercial sector, it also proves as an exciting arena as an unmarked territory of the body as insightful to the futures of our flesh, minds and innate human qualities and characteristics. These questions challenge industry and explore the boundaries of functional technology and transform it into something more experiential, expressive, and empowering.

Through technologies, I have explored issues around the War on Drugs, transgendered discrimination, and protest movements, creating interventions and moments of clarity through the topics at hand. Although not aiming for a solution based creation, my work tends to create blurred lines of inquiry into these spaces. Such interventions use analogue and digital mediums to interact and feed into acts of creating awareness. Embodying awareness through my work allows me to look at wearables and technology production in ways that create ownership, especially when drawing from my own experiences. By mixing extremes whether the social-political with computation, the body and spiritual experience or traditional values in a fluxuating modernity, the contrasting and polarizing themes create the kinds of awareness that are inherent in the systems I analyze and tackle.

Through methodical research into such subjects, my designs and produced works give life and voice to a community of perspectives that are embedded into the overall aesthetic and positioning of my work. The topics at hand can often be difficult, serious, dark or moody in such extremes, however my aesthetic often takes these undertones and reverses, reflects and highlights such points in ways abstracted from its subjected perversion. At the core of interest in extremes is the fundamental abstraction of a systemic view that fluctuates between a spectrum and by reflecting these qualities in my work through aesthetic, user experience or interactivity, the play on such subtleties can be felt.

Ref: Bluetooth module to EEG headset


Hooking up Arduino, Bluetooth & Neurosky:—hacking-mindwave-mobile

and debug/corrections:


Using Bluetooth:



[3/29/15]…Will not send to Serial Monitor

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 11.16.49 AM

[Update: 4/4/15] Last time, had to connect TX-TX on serial0, not switched, and after restarting both.  It gave output with “test-mindwave” code.

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 11.17.07 AM

More info:


(^Giving some kind of output…^)


Using Stino to port the Arduino IDE to Sublime Text 2, a much better editor.

Tutorial Here:

MIDI Shoes Progress (part 1: sensors)

A snapchat DIY journey… Part 1


  •  4 Force Sensors
  • Arduino Uno
  • Wires
  • 10K ohm Resistors


After the force sensors arrived, I proceeded to extend the leads and add resistors as needed, knowing that they will all fit either onto a shoe/sock or inside a platform box eventually. I wired them onto my breadboard and hooked them up to the Arduino (analog pins A0-A3).

So now I needed a way to turn the serial output from the sensors, which were giving me the range from 0-1023 depending on how much force I exerted on the sensor, to MIDI signals. If the force pressed was to play a note, it would be like playing a MIDI controller, except the sensor values keep changing (vs a button press/trigger). Here I used Hairless MIDI Serial to convert the incoming serial numbers through the USB port that is hooked up to the Arduino.

Once the Hairless is hooked up and reading the port, the output should be on “IAC Driver Bus 1” which is where the Hairless is directing the conversion towards. Then using something like Ableton Live (under Preferences > Link/MIDI > Midi Ports > Input: IAC Driver (Bus 1)) set all the values to be ON. This way it sets this as the MIDI controls.

My musical friend helped me put a file of sounds together for the Front and Back force sensors which must be mapped to the MIDI message that is sent out from the code (note = #) when it is called like so: MIDImessage(noteON, note, velocity). The note calls the particular sound from Ableton and the Velocity is the changing sensor values which can modulate in effect, change the pitch, velocity, and modify the note basically.

First Iteration (individual Sounds for each front/back, triggered on/off):



Framework for Consciousness

framework of consciousness

Over winter break, I reframed my thesis and brief after conducting more research into studies of hallucinations and the work of Oliver Sacks and the various philosophies and cultural upheavals of the 1960s in psychedelia. In my own reflection on widespread drug use and its generative assumptions and misinterpretations, philosophical views surrounding the subject have been overlooked due to its untestable nature. However, taking an analytical and historically bent scientific evaluation of the holisitc influence of drugs, it makes sense to come to an overall framework that could attempt to explain drug experiences and their influence on reality in tangible terms.

Points to Consider:

  • Changing perceptions around drug use has to take into account a holistic viewpoint towards reality generation, not the representative nature of what drugs have come to be perceived according to its recent human use
  • This point of view is a framework to build, test and hypothesize upon, and helps consolidate the impact of drugs as “facilitated experiences” on a user’s psyche
  • The depictions of drugs (media, art, authorship, research) has been overtly cast from the male perspective since the heyday of the 1960s… How does a gendered (queering) feminine approach change the way we see and value altered consciousness? How does a non-white, Eastern, culturally historical viewpoint change the way drugs can be seen?
  • By deconstructing drugs as objects of experience, commitment and integration, can this tackle/call attention to the bigger problems of the destructive and untrue biases towards addiction, illicit drug users and its real consequences?
  • By shifting the conversation towards its historical ties to spirituality, healing and transformation as a positive force, I hope to speak towards both political embodiment of activism through the subject but towards one that fosters collective and long term positive growth and potential for the future (vs one that just creates a stagnant “solution” without looking at drugs in all of its historical analysis – racial injustices, scientific breakthroughs, and eastern practices)
  • Hypothesis and Prototyping is used here as a call towards using drugs and tangible forms of experimentation towards research in new fields of Science that ultimately begin with unknown variables and models – one that recognizes the longstanding values of Eastern practice and medicine, Traditions and Shamanic Spiritualism

In Progress Thesis Show


Navigating Altered Headspaces (in Altered Consciousness)

MDP In Progress Thesis Show

Wind Tunnel

There is much possibility for designing in a realm of new cognitive experiences and embodied technologies that bridge the gap between how the unconscious or seemingly unreal perceptions can blend and interact with that of a sober conscious reality. In context, my design exploration engages the areas of technology and cognition by breaking down stigmas of drug use, mind alteration and self-induced healing. As perceptions today are changing around such substance use, designs that call such a psycho-future into place is becoming increasingly possible and speculatively plausible.


At the close of the first semester of Thesis Year, I decided to go more exploratory in my prototyping and exhibition show that worked more like a prompt for the viewer into this world of designing with Altered Consciousness and specifically hallucinations in mind. This was a step back from the drug user App “AWE” that I done UX sketching and storyboards for. For the show I created a proposal and provoking questions around the nature of reality, hallucinatory states and how we can think about the “unreal” in our lives. Part of these questions and explorations came from testing my app experience and the insights that came from my observations.


The Hallucination Experiments are meant to delve into instances and moments when and where hallucinations might subtly displace onto our real and sober lives and the subversive patterns and hints of what such altered consciousness can bring under its specific affordances. I’m interested in designing more unassuming technologies that create embodiments of such states, revealing their triggers into what is hidden to us.



Jumping off from the more scientific aspects of the AWE app, I used Google’s DeepDream software to explore the realms of altered consciousness and cognition. This platform combined with aspects of the Guider from the app, have the possibility to inform our own cognition by breaking down how we actively create our visually based realities, thoughts and memories.

DeepIntent from Elaine Cheung on Vimeo.


This app was designed in response to the media’s sensationalistic coverage of rave culture and its use of drugs, where many young people today are using mostly adulterated and harmful substances sold on the black market, mostly unknowingly and irresponsibly due to the electronic music scene’s surge in popularity. This mock up is both a satirical play on the War on Drugs and a vessel to humanize the stereotype of the drug user, the raver and its niche world.