Sather Slant is a bench that tilts in the direction of majority traffic under Sather Gate. Using Processing and BlobDetection, a webcam is linked under the gate to track human movement in the X axis, either towards Bancroft or towards central campus. Using this information, the bench, resting on casters attached to a carjack, is raised using a motor to tilt the bench in the direction of majority movement under the gate. For example, if more people are walking in the direction towards campus (North), the bench (located in Sather Lane, perpendicular to Bancroft way), will slant downwards to the North. For those sitting on the bench, they will physically feel the movements through campus, making the invisible visible.
With Sather Lane as the chosen site location, to transform the transitional space into a resting/destination point.
Choosing Sather Lane as our site gave us a huge variety of directions to go for this project. As it is tied to the Sather namesake, however, we focused on connecting our installation to Berkeley's other monuments, namely Sather Gate and Sather Tower. We were drawn to Sather Tower as it is a major destination point and for the bells played each hour. Sather Gate enticed us in its position as a main transitional area of campus, of people going towards classrooms and those leaving it. It's position gives lots of movement, activity, and noise to the area. We began wondering how to connect these aspects of the other Sather monuments to Sather Lane, and how to make a monument, or rather anti-monument of our own.
Sather Lane is a major transitional space in Berkeley, and through our interactions with visitors of the area, we gained insight as to why. Most people walked through it as it was a nice pathway to get to or from campus, and they rarely had a reason to stop. We wanted to transform this space into an area where people would stop and interact with it in some manner. As a place of movement, we thought it would be interesting to somehow connect the movement under Sather Gate to the Lane. We decided on creating a responsive bench to meet our ideals.
A monument is defined as a permanent object in honor of a person, place, thing or event. We decided to create our own version of a Sather monument, an anti-monument, honoring the temporal aspects of movement through campus. We chose a bench to engage visitors of Sather Lane to stop and sit, making it less of a transitional space. By connecting the bench to the movements under Sather Gate, however, we were able to achieve this anti-monumental ideal in that the movements of the bench would be temporary and impermanent.
Everyone is moving in one direction or another each day. By creating a bench that both visually and physically gives users an obvious sense of what the direction of mass movement is, we achieved our vision of making the invisible visible. By creating Sather Slant, we are able to give visibility to a larger idea of the movements through campus.
As a first production of Sather Slant, there are many opportunities for improvement and change. Here is what we would like to achieve in future propagations of the bench.
- Single Unit: Create a cage and support unit for the motor to cancel the need for manual holding of the motor during use to prevent spinning and wrapping of the wires.
- Wireless: Reprogram the unit and utilize WiFi to create wireless communications between the Processing unit and camera and the bench.
- Possible Branding: Clarify on the bench the connection between Sather Gate and the physical motions of the bench.
- Multiple Locales: Reproduce multiple benches to institute at different locations and connect with different spaces to map movements through various parts of campus and the city.
Introducing Berkeley's latest Sather monument.
- Welding scissor jack to rollers to handle pivot point of bench
- assembling wooden frame
- welding mount point for motor to grab onto
- Designed a circuit that can drive a motor in forward or reverse direction (see circuit diagram 1)
- 3 relays enable switching of power on/off and reverse current flow through the motor
- Counted people moving across a camera's view by adapting this blob detection library http://www.v3ga.net/processing/BlobDetection/
- Positive and negative movement in the x-direction is counted, and after a short delay
Sather Lane Faces High Rents, Turnover
“merchants at Telegraph Channing pay on average much less than those at Sather Lane, which is located just north of Durant Avenue from Telegraph Channing: $1.77 per square foot versus $3.72.” --BerkeleySide
“after two years watching my step on my way to class and holding my breath while passing through Sather Lane, Northside was a welcome — and literal — breath of fresh air.” --DailyCal