Sending Good Vibes at CAS Nightlife

CAS Nightlife vibes game

The second challenge of my biomimetic industrial design class this semester: devise a carnival-style game for the California Academy of Sciences’ November 13th Nightlife event. It had to be fun, engaging, and demonstrate a unique aspect of animal sensation.

My task: explain seismic (vibrational) ‘hearing’ used by snakes, spiders, crabs, insects, frogs, fish, worms, elephants, rats, and birds. No sweat, right?

Right. Since I didn’t have access (or software skills) to use CCA’s laser cutter and 3D printer, I dug out the bassiest speaker system I had, devised a resonating chamber, set up play cards, and asked people to guess what “vibe” I was communicating to them:

“meet” up, “mate”, or “run”.

Can you guess which song was best for communicating which vibe? (Mind, you’ll have to feel it without the sensory-deprivation gear.) Here were three of the most effective options:

Railing by Roni Size & Reprazent
Un Bacio a Mezzanotte by Quartetto Cetra
Sleepwalk by Santo & Johnny

And here are some interesting facts I dug up:

Pressure-sensitive nerves in the fatty pads of elephants’ feet can sense vibrational patterns sent nearly 10 miles away. Female tree frogs attract males at night by rhythmically tapping their rear toes. Many animals use similar strategies to send messages, either by drumming, tremulation (body vibration,) stridulation (rubbing body parts together,) or head thumping. —Humans may also exhibit such behaviors, if the DJ is good.

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I was really honored that the California Academy of Sciences asked me and my two group members Cat and Joey (who both created cool shooting galleries) to bring our games back for a second Nightlife on February 19th to launch the Noise Pop Festival. Unfortunately I was thick into meeting my thesis submission deadline, but I managed to find CAS a replacement booth by convincing the guys who make these super cool TrashApms to bring their goods up from the South Bay.

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