Bend Time and Go Through Space

2:56 PM in General by Adityo Pratomo

The user research phase that I did, shows a quite interesting point, the tendency of office workers, who are the main inhabitants of the Grid Gallery area, to walk alone to or fro the office. Somehow I can relate this to when I was still working, going in solo, with thoughts of job in my mind, completely neglecting things around me. I can completely relate to it. So I decided to generate ideas as responses to this fact.  The display should be able to give a chance for the office workers to see what they were missing, their surroundings that they’ve dismissed, the chance to see new person that they don’t know before even though spatially they are occupying the same space at the same time. In short, connecting people in the same space from different time. Time travel.

Since I’ve pretty much set the space and time as the main theme of my artwork, I started to browse the Internet and see some examples of interactive art work that can be used as an inspiration. In the end, I founded out two inspirational pieces. One was called Palimpsest by The Human Connectedness Group at The Media Lab Europe. Another one was named Shifting Time by an artist named Camille Utterback. Those two pieces showed how an interactive art can use time and space as the main interactive object to create a connection between humans, even when they are not at the same time and space. This feature gives the audience a form of engagement with the art work simply because it shows a response unique to that space where the audience are already familiar with. I think this level of engagement is what I need to have in my proposed art work. During the presentation session, Rob and Keir also pointed out Swarm by Alex Davies and Khronos Projector by Alvaro Cassinelli as a possible source of inspiration. These two artwork support my previously gained understanding of colliding time and space as an object and theme of interaction. So thank you very much Rob and Keir for pointed them.

With those in mind, I started to create ideas and generate storyboard for these ideas. I managed to came up with two ideas. The first one is called “Travel” whil the other one is named “Yesterday”.

Travel

The idea of travel is roughly based on the concept of time travel itself, which is moving in time analogous to moving in space. So not only people can move forward in time, but also moving backward too. I figured that the width of the display can be used to represent different time, not only different space. So,In this work, I will have 2 kind of videos layered and played back in the same time. Both videos are the view of the grid gallery in the morning, but one of them will be played as a whole, while the other one will be sliced to a different time frame and positioned in different place in the display according to where the audience is viewing. People will then be able to scribble the video, seeing the view from the different time simply by moving along the display.

This storyboard describe how it works in detail (click to get a bigger view)

This artwork will give a chance for the office worker to experience the surroundings at day time, where at that time most of these people are still at their office. There will be roughly 5 slices of video from different time that will be played back. The dimension of the video will follow the size of the person in front the screen. That way, a person walking forward will see a smaller view of the video compared to a person standing in front of the display. The more people standing in front of the display will also enable the sliced video to be played in a wider dimension. Another form of promoting social interaction.

Yesterday

Another idea that I came up was pretty much playing with the same notion of space and time. Only this time, I will let the audience to completely replay what was happening on the previous day without even have to be there at that time. Here’s the storyboard (click to get a bigger view)

This work will show a video of what happen in front of the Grid Gallery at the previous day. The audience can view this, but when they’re closer to the screen, they will also appear on the screen in form of particles. This will create notion of you are not there yet at that day, you were still particles and not a complete human form.  When the audience are getting even closer to the screen, the video played will be blurred or pixelated, representing a chaos theory and butterfly effect that will happen if time travel does exist. This chaos theory will be further amplified whenever there are more audience coming closer to the display and this time by having the video played back in a faster speed. Interestingly, these audiences who were on the screen will be recorded so that on the next day, they will appear on the video in a complete human form as a notion that they are the inhabitants of that space and people who never interact with them can now have a chance to do so. Again, promoting social interaction.

Technical Tidbits

Technically speaking, the two artworks can be creating using the same technical components, because essentially they are doing the same concept: layering a pre-recorded video. “Travel” use another pre-recorded video as the next layer of video, while “Yesterday” uses particles generated from live video feed as the next layer. Here’s the block diagram of the required components for the two artworks

So basically, there will be 3 main category of the system component, recorder, player and display. The recorder is used to record the view in front of the grid gallery and then store it to the computer. The stored file will then be passed on to the player where the base video and the video that will be played on top of the base will be played at the same time. One slight different though, the copy file procedure is not required for “Yesterday”.The player will have the sensor as an input to where the video on top will be played on the case of “Travel” or where the particle will be generated in case of “Yesterday”. These films or videos will then later played on the display.

For the sensor, I choose to use the Kinect because it can easily subtract the foreground from the background so determining the position of the audience in refer to the display will be an easy job. This Kinect’s depth detection function is also vital for “Yesterday” because it needs to be able to detect the range between the audience and the display in order to create that blur or pixelated effect.

By using Kinect, separation between spectator and performer can also be achieved as showed by this diagram

Conclusion

My two proposed artwork play with the idea of time and space as a response to the natural habit of the inhabitants of the Grid Gallery surroundings. By combining this two familiar elements in a playful and interactive environment, I aim to give the office workers something to new to experience on their way home. I don’t offer a complex way of interaction that need to be performed in several minutes in order to feel the whole experience. Instead, I’m targeting a quick but meaningful interaction so the office workers won’t have to spare a lot of time.

From my point of view these two proposed artwork can be applied in SmartSlab display and environment because the concept of them is something quite general and doesn’t require much adaptation if they were to be implemented in SmartSlab. Maybe “Travel” will suffer a little bit of sacrifice in terms of the number of video slice, but “Yesterday” can be applied with the same concept and workflow.

Reference

1. Palimpsest a Layered Video Manuscript of Social Interaction
2. Shifting Time by Camille Utterback
3. The Khronos Projector by Alvaro Cassinelli
4. Swarm by Alex Davies
5. How Time Travel Works
6. The Butterfly Effect