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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Shared Experience – Work in Progress

Shared Experience – Work in Progress

During the moon landing in 1969, the same video feed was being watched on televisions sets across the globe, making it one of the greatest examples of a shared experience of all time. While Neil Armstrong was the individual at the centre of the action, his own words highlight that his step down from the ladder was a giant leap for all of mankind. It is quite common to say, “we landed on the moon”, with “we” meaning all Americans, or even the entire human race. You can comfortably say “we put a man on the moon” if you yourself were not involved, or even if you weren’t alive at the time at all.

When a large portion of the world turned their eyes on one event in unison, what did that feel like? The idea of groups gathered round televisions, separately but in parallel is a powerful one, There must have been a sense of experiencing the events together, and a very human feeling of being part of something.

Watching the moon landing was a passive experience but its also possible to share an active experience with a group. Most recently, I have been looking at the kinds of visual patterns which can be generated by using the movement of a crowd as an input, and thinking about what it feels like to be part of a group that is collaborating in this way.

 

These geometric shapes are created by designing rules about how to make connections between people and then making those connections manually frame by frame. For our work in progress show at the end of term, I developed a version of this where the patterns are projected in real time on the floor as people move around. This creates quite a different system, as people are reacting to the projections rather than just going about their day.

There is a lot to play around here in the future. There are infinite rule sets I can create to generate different patterns.

I also created an ecosystem of swarming fish, which people could interact with. As The fish swim around their movement is governed by a number of different rules. They align their movement with the rest of the fish in the pack, they avoid the shark at all costs, and they follow humans in the space.

This lead to people coming up with games to play, such as separating one fish from its pack, or trying to lead the fish in the path of the shark. In the future I could develop this by implementing consequences to the system. For example, the fish could get eaten by the shark and they could breed. The variations of fish population could then affect the amount of algae in the system, and so on.

More generally I would also like to experiment with building physical objects to exist in the projection space, which would become part of the system themselves as people interact with them.

At a technical level, these projections work by tracking people’s movement through the space using Kinect depth tracking. This system is fairly robust and can be improved by making adjustments to the placement of the Kinect and fine tuning the code. The output can also be greatly improved by increasing the size of the projection area, and reducing shadows by using two projectors.

My goal is to create interactive installations which multiple people can use at once. Each person is acting as an individual agent, but together they create a system which acts as one.

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