Jessica Mindel

MIT Department: Media Arts and Sciences
Faculty Mentor: Prof. Tod Machover
Undergraduate Institution: University of California, Berkeley
Website: LinkedIn, Website
Research Poster


I’m a rising senior at UC Berkeley studying Electrical Engineering and Computer Science with an emphasis on New Media and Design Innovation. At the core of my work is storytelling, placemaking, and community-centered design: I seek to build empathetic, embodied technologies that help people more deeply understand themselves, more meaningfully connect with others, and more (co)creatively explore their worlds. Over the past three years, I’ve worked as a product design consultant and project mentor, and software engineer, to explore these ideas in industry. My current research interests lie in HCI, generative and tangible media, creative practices, AR/VR, musical and narrative interactions, and robotics. In my free time, I enjoy creative writing, producing music and singing, digital art, plumbing the depths of philosophy with friends, and hiking.


2021 Abstract

Creating a Spatial Sound Sculpture for More-Than-Human Exchanges

Jessica R. Mindel1, Nicole L’Huillier2, and Tod Machover2
1Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science,
University of California, Berkeley
2Department of Media Arts and Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

In a volatile and intolerant cultural moment, the importance of connection has become increasingly evident. While the quantity of accessible communication technologies has increased, people may experience a poverty of meaningful connection, just as the Earth faces a poverty of resources during the Anthropocene. To resist this disconnect and emphasize the importance of all (non-)human bodies, we integrate (non-)Western perspectives to explore listening as a form of ritual practice, invisible architecture, and connectivity through collectivity. We present two sculptures that sonify the wind to understand how we might create conversation with non-human entities in auditory installations. We developed a novel membrane-based accelerometer microphone that interprets signals as collective vibrations, and a low-representational Markov model through which the sculpture autonomously co- designs rituals with the audience. We propose spatial, sound-based interactive systems that encourage wind-like audience behavior through call and response, promote alternative listening and grounding through transduction and unfamiliar filtering of realtime wind recordings, and challenge a prior focus in sonification literature on one-to-one data mappings, favoring ambiguity. Based on audience responses during the installation, we seek to develop generalizable protocols for the design of inclusive, more-than-human interaction that leads to a collective experience. We further hope to raise awareness of the importance of South American and non-human voices through our subversion of anthropocentrism and the Western ear.