An interaction

"We're in a darkened corridor and on the far wall I can make out a shifting fleshy clump. On moving closer I can see a little colony of rhythmically pulsating creatures attached to a rock. My friend touches the screen, it is stretchy, she pushes in one of the slimy pods, its body quivers and out through a human mouth shoots virtual water accompanied by a squirting sound. Soon, five of us have claimed a creature and are spraying virtual water around the screen."

 

Background

The interactive installation Sea Squirts belongs to a series of works that explore the theme imagined future human evolution which considers an alternative human evolution driven by sensual gratification. This piece takes inspiration from echinoderms, and, in particular, the sessile body-sharing colonies of a variety of sea squirts.

The mucous membranes and the sexual organs which make up the creatures predominate creating a tension between the brightly couloured but repulsive looking organs and the promise of an interaction. Sea Squirts represents a development of our research into touch sensitive interaction and multiple user interaction.

This artwork visually references chimerical beings, the grotesque and transhumanism.

 

Technical description

Hardware · PC, projector, webcam, speakers + infra-red lights (if using touch-screen)

Software · Flash

Projection surface · Lycra screen (if touch sensitive) or wall (if shadow driven)

Nature of interaction · touch-screen or shadow-driven (unencumbered)

Five human-sea squirt hybrids attached to a rock are projected onto a deformable Lycra screen. They respond to touch; the user can push the creatures causing muscles to pulsate. Its breathing will quicken and it will squirt a noisy (virtual) jet of water.

The creatures have been constructed from video recordings of the artists' bodies and are choreographed in the multimedia authoring program Flash. These are rear-projected onto a screen in a darkened gallery space. Sensing technology, comprising infrared lighting and a webcam, detects audience touch.

The Sea Squirts can always be relied on to create some gruesome fun. They are best suited to one off events. We have shown them in various combinations at various sizes; either touch sensitive or shadow driven.