An interaction

"I enter a darkened space. A star twitches near the ceiling. As I approach, the star moves down toward me, revealing itself to be a starfish. As it swims closer, the human features of its body come into view. This fantastical creature wants to engage with me and her calls and gestures guide me in an elaborate dance...."

 

Background

This work takes inspiration from the historical evolution of starfish away from a cerebral to a more sensual existence. It represents a possible future evolution for humans, where rather than the brain expanding and other organs withering (as is commonly imagined), the sexual organs become predominant. The resulting artwork creates a tension between attraction (to sexual body parts) and repulsion (their unfamiliar organisation). The Starfish visually references chimera, the grotesque and transhumanism.

Becoming Starfish, won the John Lansdown award for Interactive Digital Art (second place) at Eurographics 2007 and was nominated for an Erotic Award, 2012.

Technical description

Hardware · PC, Webcam, projector, infrared lights, speakers

Software · Flash, EyesWeb, Flosc

Projection surface · PVC or deformable lycra screen

Nature of interaction · motion tracking (unencumbered)

A starfish-human hybrid glides at the top of a screen displaying a variety of life-like actions. When a person comes close to the screen the starfish will move towards them making sounds to encourage some form of engagement. The creature's behaviour, motion and mood will depend on the actions of the participant, who in turn may be guided by the creature's rich variety of responses.

The creature, which has been constructed from video recordings of the (female) artist's body choreographed in the multimedia authoring program Flash, is rear-projected onto a screen in a darkened gallery space. Sensing technology, comprising infrared lighting and a webcam linked to the motion tracking software EyesWeb, detects user touch and movement. EyesWeb is sophisticated enough to capture the human arm and leg positions, which are then mapped onto the starfish allowing quite detailed interactions, for example, stroking each of the five legs individually. The Starfish has been presented at several scales from a few inches to 20 foot across.

The Starfish also appears in Mutoscope.