ART & TECH MEET IN THE MIDDLE

Art and tech met somewhere in the middle at NYU Tisch’s Interactive Telecommunications Show. I went on the opening night and saw countless gems. Here are three of my favorites:


The Wooden Mirror

The Wooden Mirror was a large display of 830 pieces of wood designed to look like a mirror. It attempts to mimic the subject it reflects through a computer connected to a video camera and hundreds of tiny motors that move the wooden pieces. A light is cast on the all of the wood pieces, so when they move, the casted shadows collectively make up the image that it’s reflecting.

I loved this because it capitalized on the idea of mimicry in such a creative way. Several VR demos capitalize on environmental reactions to the users’ actions, so it was refreshing to see such a focused piece of tech that maximized its function as an instrument of mimicry. Mimicry is such a foundational part of our cognitive development, like when infants mimc their caretakers’ facial expressions. It speaks to a part of us that’s playful and curious. I loved this piece because it rendered its audience childlike in their wonder, which I think should be the goal of any piece of art (or tech, for this matter).

This piece was made by Daniel Rozin, Adjust Professor and Director of Research, ITP).


Projected Reflection

I couldn’t find a description for this one, unfortunately, but based off my experience, it was a silhouette projection cast on several framed canvases that showed the visual history of your movements. On the other side of the canvases stood another person, and you could see their movements in a differently colored silhouette.

I loved this piece because of its inclusion of an interaction with another user. That wasn’t very commonplace at the ITP show, so it was refreshing. The arrangement of the frames was also interesting, as it created a fragmented experience of yourself in silhouette form. The person on the other side turned into your fragmented playmate, and you got to wave your arms around together, both gawking at how cool it looked projected on these seemingly floating frames. Out of context, this just sounds like to children playing together. I loved it for this very reason. There’s nothing more to say other than you just had to be there to experience it.

There was no information available on who created this piece. 


Bubbles Projection

If you like bubbles and augmented reality, this is the piece for you. It consisted of three or four semi-transparent pieces of canvas (?) that were equidistant from one another, suspended from the ceiling — on the canvases there was a powerful projection of bubbles. Because of a camera, the user could step in front of the canvas and wave their arms around to interact with the projected bubbles and even make new batches of bubbles by opening your arms in a V-formation.

I loved this piece because of the four pieces of semi-transparent canvas that it used. It gave the experience a tone of mystery and made the bubbles look very real. The multi-dimensionality to the canvases and the projected bubbles made it seem like you could go and pop these bubbles right there. That small detail of using four semi-transparent canvases instead of one (which would have worked just fine) gave the entire a piece a quality of infinitude in the sense that the bubbles seemed to originate from somewhere far away and dark and disappeared into an equally ambiguous state. As a user standing on the verge of the four canvases, interacting with the bubbles, it made you feel quite small. It is this quality that made me love the piece — the feeling of smallness as a result of interacting with the piece. You can never go wrong with humbling your audience through evoking wonder. Just think of Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity.

There was no information available on who created this piece. 

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