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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Sniff – Emergence Exhibition

  • On December 23, 2009

The final piece in the Emergence Exhibition is “Sniff” by Karolina Sobecka and Jim George. Sniff is an interactive projection: an animated dog follows passers-by, discerns their behavior as friendly or aggressive, tries to engage them and forms a relationship with them based on the history of the interaction. As the viewer walks by the projection, their movements and gestures are tracked by a computer vision system. Sniff is an exploration of the moment of engagement.

It partly grew out of interest in philosophical discussion about the mind and mind theory, particularly in what’s termed the “commonplace” understanding of mental states and inferring of agency. Our automatic interpretation of behavior as social interaction is especially emblematic in a non-linguistic engagement with the ‘other’, which in case of Sniff produces a hybrid space of virtual and real emotions, social guess-work and mind modeling. Sniff is an attempt to trigger an intense, playful and insightful level of engagement at which we solve the “other minds” problem in everyday life. Sniff is inserted into our physical reality and follows its rules.

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