Sriya Sarkar

Digital Media-ite, Comedian, Filmmaker

Sriya Sarkar can be found at the intersection of comedy, political issues, and digital media. The smorgasbord of her work lives here.

An Update to the Uteri: Part 2

It progresses!

Following a six hour long tech meeting on Tuesday, Ernie, Hovsep, and I were finally able to get a live stream going. I'm sure creating a live stream from scratch would have exhibited a higher degree of technical ability, but as all our expertise lies in videography - it felt like a more useful use of our time relying on an existing streaming software.

Fair warning to anyone out there - Youtube is not very friendly to stream on! A capture device, multiple forums on Flash Media Encoder Live 3.2, and a harried trip to Best Buy for a Thunderbolt cable, we were able to seamlessly get a live stream going on Ustream instead.

On Friday, the team is heading over to the theater to make sure the equipment works in their space.

In terms of the Processing sketch, I have the fades ready and am just playing around with aesthetics now.

An Update to the Uteri

The Processing learning curve continues to curve. But at least I now have a better working knowledge of what to do in order to create the kind of projection I want.

I have been able to update it so that the same uterus icon does not show up, but a random assortment of uteri pop now. Also, text! It's revolutionary!

Another thing to debug now though - how to prevent the icons from appearing over the text...

Hovsep, Ernie, and I have continued to try to figure out the live stream situation. Hovsep realized we need a capture device in order to hook up an external camera. Luckily, Elton has placed an order for one and it should be here in time for a tech walk through scheduled for next week.

The number of tickets claimed officially exceeds the theater's capacity, but accounting for people with tickets who WON'T show and people without tickets who WILL show, I think we're in pretty good shape!

A Uterus-heavy Prototype

A complete novice to Processing, I met with a wiz in the language, a certain Luke Dubois.

Together, we were able to put together a basic program that pulls tweets related to a certain hashtag and displays a uterus icon for each tweet.

What I now need to work on, though, is changing the color and playing around with transitional fades.

Production Calendar...counting down the days

There's about a solid month left until my final project for Interaction Design - Speakout Laughout.

As of today, I have the majority of the show's logistics figured out and done, including:

  1. Theater rental
  2. Booking the comedians (though I am still looking to add a couple more; I have 7 confirmed)
  3. Creating an event page and invites
  4. Beginning the promotional push to get out the word about (through social media and various advocacy groups)
  5. Familiarizing myself with Max MSP through introductory tutorial videos.

There's still quite a bit of work left to do. In the coming month, I will be focusing almost exclusively on creating the Max patch that will control the projections that are so integral to this show. Below is a production schedule I put together:

April 1:          Show promotional graphics
                     Initial layout of program

April 2 - 4:    Start working on a patch that plugs into Twitter
                     Reach out to organizations & advocacy groups
                     Find someone to help with video documentation

April 5:         Attend Max workshop. Figure out how to create specific kinds of displays

April 6 - 7:    Refine Twitter plug in patch. Begin work on visualization aspect

April 8:         Present patch so far to Dana

April 9 - 14:  Continue working on patch so it can follow a hashtag, pull specific tweets, and             display them
                     (also do taxes)

April 15:        Present final Twitter patch

April 16 - 21:  Work on tallying function of the patch.

April 22:         Present patch so far with the tally function included.

April 23 - 28:  Work on the graphic presentation in the patch.
                       Conduct a test live stream.

April 29:         Present the finalized patch in class.

April 30:         Tech run-through at the theater. I will test the patch and live stream.

May 1 - 2:        Make any final edits.
                       Confirm with comics
                       Confirm with tech help (videographers, light board)
                       Promote on all sites.

May 3, 4pm:   SHOW!

May 4 - 5:       Edit video from show

May 6:            Show video documentation from show in class

A Clearer Concept


The idea, in a nutshell, is to organize a speakout - a gathering of people in a safe environment where they can share their experiences and listen to others' - for abortion stories. I want to do something in the vein of the 1 in 3 Campaign's recent speakout, but as a standup comedy event involving comedians who have gone through abortions themselves. By creating a Twitter hashtag and live streaming the event, I will track the number of times the hashtag is used and project it during the performance to measure reach in real time.


Live performance! It is, at its core, a stand up comedy show.


The main content component of the idea is performed live, thus written by each individual performer. On my end, content would involve putting together a slate of performers that can be the right amount of frank, honest, and engaging. The most challenging component will be to create a Max/MSP patch that can track a Twitter hashtag and project it. How will that projection look? I will need to design the look of this projection which will show the numbers of people using the hashtag. The numbers will update as the tweets roll in. I would like to also project the tweets themselves. Because I also want to live stream the event, I want to figure out how best to do that.


Comedy Gives Back

1 in 3 campaign speakout




I'm definitely interested in using Max/MSP in order to integrate Twitter into a live projection. The entire set design of this idea rests on a projection and from what I have observed, this is the most versatile program to allow that.


          Lucid Possession (Toni Dove) - a live performance involving Dove using her hand gestures to control a pre-recorded film.

          Twitter Streaming Map - This is a video demonstrating the Twitter streaming API. It uses similar patches to what I expect I would use.

           Italian Politicians - Another video, this time demonstrating the sonification of Tweets relating to Italian politicians.

          Personal Frequency - an installation that changes the projection based on where the viewer is standing and how they move. It's more installation based and interactive than I intend my piece to be, but it's still interesting to keep in mind in case I do want to play around more with the projection.

          Socialpulp - This is a company that makes Twitter and Instagram based projection walls. They use it in a branding oriented direction, mainly for use by other companies at their events, however the physical piece that they create is perhaps closest to what I want to show.







Ideation of an Idea

Part one of a brainstorming saga. The first leg tackled ideas I am interested in:


Top Ideas:
     1. Comedy based on research
     2. Laughtivism
     3. Discomfort (as a result of people realizing their own inherent biases)    
     4. Allies

The second leg of the process focused on brainstorming interactions:

Top Interactions:
     1. Stand-up
     2. Interactive projections
     3. Video, theater crossover
     4. Improvisation

Preliminary ideas based on the above brainstorming process:    
     1. A stand-up set integrating projections controlled by the audience
     2. An improv scene based upon some kind of audience participation
     3. Legislative girls (all genders inclusive) night - letter writing party to Congress on various legislations currently being debated.

Examples of work I'm drawing from:
     1. Shana Moulton's live performances, particularly this one of "Whispering Pines"
     2. Jarrett Berenstein's solo show, "The New Job Show"
     3. Interlude's interactive video of Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone"
     4. This marketing installation for "Inside Amy Schumer" involving projections and audience participation
     5. "Saturday Chores" is a Tumblr for photos a husband and wife team take of themselves holding opposing signs at anti-choice events and rallies around North Carolina.

An example of my previous work - a stand up set incorporating graphic projections - can be seen here.

A Disconcerting Experience

We are Team Gaslighting - Charles Deluga, Karen Wang, and myself.

Our card sorting process:

We all were drawn to the narrative of starting the experience one way and having it take a surprise turn; a plot twist as it were. Because two of us had suggested alarm centered ideas, that was our starting point. We eventually settled on the following idea:

We are going to express what it feels like to question what is really  happening.

Based on our idea and our card sorting process, I individually made an idea collage:

We regrouped as, what else, a group and drew up the following concept map:

The word that triggered our ideas was "gaslighting" which was an approach we thought we could have a lot of fun with, particularly by designing a very sensory audio/visual piece and by requiring everybody to close their eyes. Once we settled on a faux guided meditation piece, we realized that what we were actually tackling was the disconcerting experience of questioning what is really happening and what is just being imagined in our heads. 

This is one of the least antagonistic, but still alienating, experiences that someone can experience. How do you explain that feeling? Why does feeling like we have imagined something make us doubt ourselves? By recreating this in a shared environment, it will be interesting to see how this somewhat isolating feeling will transform a group that is being forced to share it.  

An Urban Intervention in Union Square

New York - despite being a city bursting at the seems with people of all different sorts - is one of the easiest environments in which one can stay drawn into themselves. It's a city that presents numerous stimuli throughout the day, and yet we are content to walk through with our hands stuffed in our pockets, our ears jammed with headphones, and eyes fixed in one set direction at any given time.

Inspired by this, my group (consisting of Xingyu Gu and Nabil Mir, in addition to myself as Project Manager) set out to come up with an urban intervention idea centered around learning something about a stranger. During our brainstorms, we came up with an idea involving writing short stories the length of a post it note, and asking people to take guesses on where we were from. Our final project took form as a combination of these two ideas.

Take a look at the final result!

The intervention from a totally unbiased point of view:

We carried out our "intervention" on Friday, January 30th. It was a chilly day and it had snowed earlier in the morning. We set up in Union Square Park, across from the dog park, because it had the highest concentration of stationary people (as opposed to people merely walking through in transit; a result of the dog park, most probably) in the area. However, we only observed two people interacting with it over the span of almost an hour despite the area receiving constant traffic in addition to a fair number of people merely sitting in benches.

After people sat down on the benches directly next to our project on either side, we figured that was the biggest detraction to potential participants. While it got numerous glances, nobody was willing to actually interact with it. As a result, we moved the project to the window of a building under construction on the corner of 14th St and Broadway (prime foot traffic spot).

Here we got more interaction from people, mainly approaching it in groups. If we stayed out longer, we're sure we could have gotten more responses. Because of the cold and approaching rush hour, though, we called it a day after about two solid hours.

While we didn't get an overwhelming number of responses, we did get ones of substance. There was the requisite "mom's vagina" answer that was to be expected, but it was counterbalanced by someone's note about moving from Illinois and seeing this project as a sign that it was the right move, and other similar responses. So despite a low turnout, chilled bodies, and our fair share of feeling creepy while taking photos of strangers, we felt overall that we managed to accomplish an urban intervention of sorts, even if on a small scale.

And now for something completely different:

The view from up here is far superior from the ground and on this side of the park. The bark down there routinely gets slammed with dog piss throughout the day whereas I play host only to the occasional pigeon here and there. Even their excrement rushes to the trunk leaving me pristine and clean pretty much all season long.

This morning, a trio of fresh faced students began setting up a flimsy piece of cardboard. The wind - ever the uncooperative natural element - kept blowing it off kilter. Luckily for them, a trip to Staples seemed to solve the problem. Though by skimping and buying the cheapest tape available, they still struggled to keep it in place.

But they finally retreated to behind the dog park where the tried their damned best to be as discreet as possible (why one of them decided a lime green frog hat was the best garment to wear for that sort of assignment is beyond me, though). Minute after minute passed - each time, they would strain to see if the person walking by would notice their sign, their bodies tense with anticipation.

When the first two participants came, they were veritably giddy. As one whipped out her camcorder, the other scrambled to the other side of the dog park - all in pursuit of the "perfect shot" no doubt (no shortage of those types with the film school students all up in here these days). But after that, it was a bit of a dead zone. A chic, be-heeled millennial claimed a bench to the right of the sign - pulling out a book while deftly gripping her coffee. The trio shook their heads at her indifference to the project next to her. When the group of high school students claimed the bench on the other side, that's when the profanities started flowing from the creators, still hiding away behind the dog park. Convinced that no one would want to approach and interact with the sign while it was sandwiched between such exemplary displays of apathy, the trio untaped the sign and carried it out of the park and across the street, careful not to lose any post-it stories to the wind.

On 14th Street, they choose the window of a building under construction, directly outside the subway entrance on Broadway. They took their post on the edge of the sidewalk, assuming their best lost tourist looks to blend in. The tactic worked, lucky for them. The people trickled by. The appreciation flowed from the creators in the form of grand exclamations of love. Even when a seemingly deranged woman began shouting and crying into her cell phone directly in front of the sign and it seemed like all potential participants were scared off forever - when she turned around and noticed the sign, she smiled while writing her story. And the trio rushed to grab a photo of her through the throngs of people bursting from the subway entrance.

As baubles of snot formed on the tips of their noses, they decided to call it a day. They untaped the sign and tossed it in the garbage, but not before carefully peeling off each post-it and stowing the little stories away in the caverns of their backpack.


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