Interactive Display Project – The Plan

For the interactive project based in Weymouth House’s atrium I have to show off a media theory within my work. This project will be coded using Processing in which I have been learning for over a month.

I explored media theories in my Level C work and in order to demonstrate this I went back on past lectures to refresh my memory. The panopticon caught my eye. This theory is based upon security; something that is very relevant at the moment thanks to news of celebrities being hacked and their pictures being published online, and is a topic that I believe can be represented well within the fast-moving, busy space that is the atrium. With not many people paying attention to the screens for more than a glance something that will be truly interactive in my opinion won’t work. People go there as they have to go to somewhere else; such as a lecture, so relying on heavy interaction for an extended period of time would mean that it would get ignored. A simpler project in my opinion would work better. It has to catch the eye for those who want it to but need the heavy interactive from one or a group of people.

The panopticon can fit this project perfectly in my opinion due to its theory being that people behave differently when being watched; or they think they are being. The theory uses a prison as an example with one guard being surrounded by prisoners. The prisoners cannot see the guard but the guard cannot watch the prisoners, however they have to behave as there is a chance that they could be the one the guard is looking at. Within society this applies a lot of the time, CCTV cameras, security guards and police can be anywhere so people behave well in the fear they would get arrested if they don’t. However, how much are they actually being watched if at all? I plan to bring this to the forefront of my project by making the watching visible. If you know you are being watched what would you do? This is what my project will aim to show.

The idea I have is very simplistic in nature, taking inspiration from past art but bringing them “up to date”. Paintings were and still are a very big part of culture and with a lot of famous paintings being recognised despite if the person has an interest within it then it means people will get drawn to it as they know what it is. Within the busy environment this would be perfect for getting people’s attention to the installation. Paintings are also perfect as they are often portraits and can be seen in most places, adding moving eyes that follow people would be simple but striking in my opinion as the movement will draw people in and show that they are being watched, like a security camera. However as it is a painting; and even more so a person, it showcases that they are being watched everywhere and sometimes where can see them isn’t obvious.

My aims for the project is to get peoples’ attention with a recognisable piece of art such as the Mona Lisa and then bring it up to date by adding eyes on that move. These eyes would have to be “comically” over-sized in order to make the movement more obvious and them to stand out. Doing this would demonstrate the panopticon theory of being watched as the eyes follow people around the room.

The practicality behind the project is suited to my level too. In essence the project will be broken down to several sections in the code:

The Painting

The Eyes

The Motion Tracking

For the Painting it will be a case of manipulating the image/s in Adobe Photoshop then putting them onto the canvas with the canvas size matching the image size.

The Eyes will be a group of circles with a group embedded in that will be the pupil that moves with the motion tracking within a relative boundary.

Motion tracking can be found in the processing libraries. I have explored this and the figure tracking is available in which is perfect for this project.

The difficult part would be linking motion tracking to the eye movement and I would be spending the largest chunk of my time on this section. With the nature of the environment too making it work so it picks up one person and then stays on them instead of switching quickly between several; in which will cause the eyes to bounce around unnaturally. Using a Kinect camera and dedicating zones left and right for people to walk in and out of would allow the eyes to focus on that person in the middle zone as opposed to keep switching between people randomly and rapidly.

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