Symbiotic Resistance

CONTEXT
Interdisciplinary BA Course
‘Explain Me your Design’

CONTRIBUTORS
Alec Nikolov
Daryl Schiltknecht
Samuel Marti

CONTRIBUTION
Camera Tracking
Reactive Visual

The project is an art installation that focuses on the symbiotic relationship between viewer, exhibit and space. It is an attempt to visualise structures and processes that form within a community.

During three weeks we looked at the question of what makes an exhibition interesting and wanted to pack our findings into an art installation.

Since we had one expert each in industrial, interaction and graphic design it matched our goal perfectly.

Daryl started with the creation of visual references for the project 
We really liked the idea of complex and detailed structures, that would morph and transform according to the exhibits environment.
In the meantime I was working on the interactive part. I used a machine learning library that enabled me to detect people with a simple webcam using processing. Each person would then receive a center point and a unique id. 
Those parameters were passed into Touchdesigner - a node based visual programming environment. 
We first tried to use Daryl's images and make them interactive by overlaying them. It soon turned out to be difficult to make it visually appearing that way…
This meant a lot of testing and iterating…
In the end we finally arrived at a visual aesthetic that satisfied us, by animating noises through a feedback loop. Now we just had to identify the ranges of parameters that would create appealing outcomes and map them onto the visitors movement and presence. 
We decided on two parameters that drove the visual output – The amount of people inside the exhibition and the coordinates of each person. While the amount of people controlled the general look and feel of the visual, the people's movement had an effect on the pace and detail of the structures.
Our industrial designer Samuel took care of embedding the screen in the environment smooth and sleek. We decided to present the visual on a screen on the floor, because on the one hand it directly attracts attention from the whole room and on the other hand it puts the viewers in an unusual exhibition situation.
Our exhibit acted like a kind of campfire and captivated visitors for up to 10 minutes. Others tried to find out how the exhibit reacted to them by running around like crazy or swinging their arms around themselves. We are really happy with how this turned out and gained knowledge in the art of exhibiting. 

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