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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Ghost Pole Propagator : A Timeless Petroglyphic Animation

  • On May 5, 2015

When entering a historical castle, one may not expect to see a series of moving stick-figures on the wall. This is what Golan Levin created on the wall of Belsay Hall Castle, Newcastle, United Kingdom in 2007. The interactive installation made by Levin was able to capture and replay the skeletons of the visitors who accidentally passed by in its environment.


Real-time Animation on Wall source : http-//

Real-time Animation on Wall
source : http-//


This project was successful to bring modern interactive design into a prehistoric site. Rather than having static anthropomorphic figure on the wall, the visitors were amused by the animations of their skeletons that could mimic their movement in real-time. The real-time response then created an interactive environment between the prehistoric site and the visitors.

Human-like Stick-figures source :

Human-like Stick-figures
source :



Apparently, reducing many features from the real human figure did not created any confusion in a way the visitors perceive the stick-figures. Levin stated on his website that eliminating excessive features and some visual elements even made the projection communicate human presence, attitude, and gesture like the petroglyph in a powerful manner.


This may remind one to the experiment by Johansson (1973) on the perception of biological motion. This work was able to show that the observers saw the motion for what it was, not only a random light points. According to Blake in Kendon (2004) this work could suggest that the distinction of animated movement is a basic feature of the processes of movement perception. This may answer the question why the stick-figures could be perceived as it was.

Light Points of Human Figure from Johansson Work of Biological Motion Perception source :

Light Points of Human Figure from Johansson Work of Biological Motion Perception
source :



It is interesting to find out that one can still notice an anthropomorphic figure even though it is already extremely different from figure in reality. What are the minimum requirements for one to be able to recognise anthropomorphic figure may be thought-provoking to be investigated in the future.




KENDON, A. (2004) GESTURE : Visible Action as Utterance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.






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