Tiffany Piko: maygodblessyou

maygodblessyou (a look inside Ohio Amish communities and the intersection between climate, lifestyles, and science)

( photo taken in Tiverton Township at Dan + Anna’s house. It is of baled hay ready for shipment. Their children wrote on it, including the phrase: “:) May God Bless You” )

Tiffany Piko + Alec Sheets


In relation to a separate project that is looking to create a GMO cotton that blocks ticks, this project reflects populations who contribute the least to climate change, specifically the Amish community in Ohio. Ohioans are seeing Lyme disease spread due to warmer temperatures and as this is a relatively new event, medicine in the area has not adapted to recognizing/treating the disease in time. Ticks are expertly engineered to be difficult to detect and nearly impossible to safely eradicate from human living spaces. Using this information, I created an AR app simulation that casts a crawling tick animation on reality.


Using Amish plain style dress to represent the idyllic lifestyle as the background, the tick animation is meant to serve as the grotesque contrast in the reality of the tick borne diseases. I wanted to look at the intersection of nature and technology. Lyme disease is spreading, and more awareness on its effects and symptoms are going to become a necessary piece of education when going in grassy areas. How can both the natural world and the artificial world fuse together to dissect the issue of Lyme disease in the context of the Amish lifestyle? What is a solution that is both fitting for the Amish and the “English” world?

Looking at traditions in the Amish community, the design of the project mimics an child’s play with dried corn kernels on the ground, in which the kernels are pushed, moved and shaped. Like the current method of tick extermination in many Amish communities, pesticides are sprayed on family plots or they are killed when a tick latches onto a person. The corn game reminded me of the way ticks are being “exterminated”: pushed, moved, and shaped in all directions but they always come back. With the use of AR, looking through a phone allows the user to reveal what is often difficult to see or find; ticks crawling on you. The goal was to switch the role of the user from an English person to an Amish person and to make visible what is usually invisible.


I accidentally fell in love with a couple Amish families when I volunteered for an OSU lab to trap mice over the summer. They were incredibly welcoming, kind, and so interested in the work that was being done on ticks and mice. We became friends and they shared experiences of daughters, friends, family who contracted Lyme disease. This project was based off of those interactions and a project that I am working on in collaboration with a student at OSU tracking mammals that carry Lyme disease in order to create a modified cotton to create fabric that is easy to wear and could help keep ticks off of humans. Currently tick proof garments exist, however they are chemically treated and good for up to seven washes. For the Amish, who wash their clothes frequently as they work and sweat in them, this process would be expensive to send back to the company after so many washes. Using this as the precedent, I wanted to create a less science based project to look at the nuances in the relationship of ticks and people.


The core experience of this project is to create an alternate reality in which ticks are easily visible on clothing. The way the experience works is that there is a plain style dress hung up on a line and the user uses that image as a target for the simulation, once registered, the tick animation will start crawling from the dress, the phone acts as a boundary between reality and the potential reality. This field of vision then gives the user ability to be aware of unseen bugs and apply this vision to other realities.


This simulation was created with Facebook and Powerpoint. The ‘bugs’ were drawn in Powerpoint and then animated there as well. I exported the file to Facebook where there is an AR program called Spark that makes an AR effect for phones.


This project went through several iterations, first: a garment that made you feel like you had bugs crawling on you, second: a garment you could put on that had an interactive projection of ticks that the user could try and bat away, third and last: an AR tick simulation. I first tested how people would interact with putting on a garment (a muslin sheet, then later the actual dress). Then I had my roommate try out the bug effect on her phone, directing it at the dress. The first two test reflected on the way the cloth was easy or difficult to put on, the second iteration had a slit in the back so the user could just slide it on instead of putting it over their head. Lastly my roommate said she would have a hard time noticing a dress on the ground as something to interact with unless it was direct so I hung up the dress for better visibility and it related to they way the Amish dry their clothes.IMG_6524.MOV Final slides: occupyartpres