This project began as part of Beatriz da Costa's Real Space Interaction course in Winter 2004. Following are some of the thoughts and processes that composed the project, as well as documentation of the installation, exhibited at the Beall Center for Technology and the Arts as part of Hybrid Vigor 2004.
This project is conceived of as a case study for a gestural illumination system for a larger responsive environment. The goal is to create an illumination system that de-empasizes vision in the experience of space. To do this, the space is lit from above with video that is responsive to both casual and intentional movements by the participants. In this space, video is not used as a framed image object but as a material with plastic and luminous qualities. The source of the video illumination is a small pool of water not visible from the installation space. Its appearance can be altered by waves created by a series of fans directed at its surface. The strength of the airflow over the water, and thus the turbulence of the projected light, is determined by peoples' movement in the installation space as interpreted by a computer vision system.
Using actual water as the source accomplishes several things. Using a common material, such as water, illicits tacit body knowledge in the participant, lubricating the transition from an optical to an embodied experience. By digitally mediating the interaction with a physical material, the focus is shifted to the method of mediation itself, raising questions about how technology alters phenomenal experiences of space. Finally, by using actual physical material instead of a simulation, greater resolution and lower latency are possible.
Participants enter an darkened space approximately 20' x 20' lit from above by a video projector. Patterns of waves on a water surface are projected onto the floor/participants. The intensity and direction of the waves are determined by both casual and intentional movements of the people in the space. Movements are tracked by an overhead video camera and relayed to the system's behavior engine, which in turn drives fans which disturb the surface of a large bowl of water. The image of the surface of this water is then projected back into the installation space.
As of winter 04, I have completed a working prototype of the hardware system, and have begun preliminary explorations with the computer vision system.
influences and examples of other work in this area | download presentation ppt
demo using one PC fan, a 3953 PWM chip, PIC and small bowl of water + torn bits of paper completed. Prepared to scale up project to full size in spring quarter.
To date (03-25-04) I can control the fans from Max via serial. I have written a slider controlling speed, as well as patches that will ramp up to full speed or down to off over a user specified amount of time, as well as a patch that will pulse the fan at user specified time intervals.
I have also completed a first round of experiments with the vision system in Bill Tomlinson's class, Biomorphic Computing | project documentation
exhibition: June 04, 2004 - June 19, 2004 | web site
This project is a materials study for creating responsive environments.
Projected video is used, not as a framed image object, but as
illumination that is shaped by movement and gesture. The participant's
actions are transformed into a breeze that disturbs the light as if it
were a pool of water, offering a tactile visual experience.
images from installation and opening (06.03.04)
© Erik Conrad 1998-2006