Metatorium

This project was done for a class at ITP called “Pop-up Window Displays done alongside 3 other people; Regina Cantú, Grau Pausche and Ari Meliciano. The Metatorium was located on Broadway and 12th street.

After brainstorming and analyzing different ideas we all agreed that we wanted to create an experience that tapped into the obsession most people unconsciously have towards themselves.With that in mind we came up with a basic prototype to be able to test out the interaction.

A screen was set up to show a mirrored image of a webcam footage, this way people would see themselves and maybe, react to it. The footage above is a portion of the images taken during said test. This was not only a mirror, but a python script that with openCV would take captures every x amount of seconds. From this captures, openCV would look for faces, and if one was found, it would crop it and save it in a different folder

Success!

The test was very successful, people flocked around it, even if nothing was apparently happening, they would still be there. I indeed took images and cropped them but that first time I didn’t do anything with them.

We realized that we needed some kind of response/reward for being there, besides just seeing your face in a big screen. So we made use of those cropped images. The next time we set up the application a window was added showing the last image cropped. For obvious reasons the results were even better.

Surely, people used the “mirror” even more, and we observed that they would come back to have their face on the screen again.

At this point, what was being used to display the last faced that had been cropped, was a new window created with openCV, that showed to be quite problematic and the main cause for crashing the script when more than 1 face was found in a picture taken.

Said crash would not stop the whole process, but only part of it, meaning that it would get stuck in a loop checking for faces in the same capture.

This was not the only problem we had, the detection was not precise enough, it would get stuck thinking that a piece of furniture or a smudge in the floor were faces. This was adjusted through the settings, but there was always that sneaky shadow that would still be there.

Building it

Now we knew how the interaction was, so the work was needed for this interaction was going to be shown.

Coming back to the idea of an observation post, lost of plausible representations came to mind, but the one that stuck, was the vision of a plant-like organism that would feed itself from faces, meaning that instead of sunlight, this plant would need people and their faces. The aura of this was a tech induced plant. With iridescent leafs, light producing branches, and screens as flowers.