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You Can See Where You're Going

You Can See Where You're Going

Installation
Guangzhou December 2013

6 hanging scrolls, video projection, ipad dock

A piece made for Audi during the Audi Innovation for Future Mobility in Guangzhou, China  with Jennifer Wen Ma.
The piece is a projection on six hanging scrolls.  Users approach a console with two ipads

where they can choose which type of 3 minute trip they would like (future, present or past, to an urban destination or to an outside/ "nature" destination, and if they want a quick or leisurely pace) and that is combined with current weather conditions (using real time data from the internet) and the movement of people in the room (a simple tracking + webcam system) generate the specific images that are displayed.  People also had the option to input their email address and receive a couple of snapshots of their trip as a souvenir.

I designed the system and did all of the coding except the iPad interface which was done by Wang Wei in Beijing.
The installation was overseen by CIndy Ma (the Littlemeat studio manager in Beijing) and Dillon Li (an amazing Audio Visual Tech director)

Paradise Interrupted - Performa 2013

Workshop and performance
Performa Institute - November 2013


Paradise Interrupted is an opera in development that presents a world activated by a lone voice in search of an unattainable ideal. For Performa this opera was presented as a workshop in which Jennifer Wen Ma created a large-scale three-dimensional wall garden in paper, had a public workshop of the opera in progress and concluded with a couple of performances by Qian Yi set within the paper garden and interactive projections on the garden.

I mainly explored the interaction between Qian Yi's voice and some abstract visuals that were rendered as a placeholder for the actual visuals that will be used.

Closeup of a projection test on part of the garden and Marianna

The images were produced by analyzing tone and volume. Volume determined the size of the images, tone determined the complexity of the images and tone change determined the movement (direction and speed) of the images.

I was the Creative Technology Director for this project. The whole team:
Jennifer Wen Ma, concept and visual direction
Qian Yi, Kunqu performer
Huang Ruo, composer
Xiao Lihe, lighting designer
Matthew Hilyard, stage design
Xing-Zhen Chung-Hilyard, costume design
Melissa Kirgan, costume design
Marianna Peragallo, coordination and production

Paradise Interrupted Workshop is co-presented with Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, and supported by the Asian Cultural Council.

Water Cube!

This is a great project i worked on by Jennifer Wen Ma ( I did the creative technology direction )
We are controlling the individual "bubbles" surrounding the structure. Each day has it's own different animation based on the I-ching, modified by the mood of the day on Weibo, the Chinese twitter.

The Water Cube is now the Beijing National Aquatics Center. It was originally constructed for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and later converted into a water park.
The structure is a metal space frame holding up a special plastic film (IETF)shaped into bubbles. Each bubble is illuminated from the inside with rows of addressable RGB LED lamps.


Close up of the water cube. You can almost see the individual lamps shining up from the bottom of each bubble

Since each bubble is addressable we can use the water cube as a gigantic low-resolution screen.

So each day a program calculates what animation the day brings based on the I-ching and modifies the animation according to the total mood of the day on weibo. For example the day's animation might be thunder. The mood can make the lightning flashes more frequent, more intense and brighter (or the opposite)
This makes each animation a unique combination of the nature of the calendar day plus the experience of the people that lived that day.

How we do it:

Photo with The two main developers from the Beijing team and Jennifer


Zhao Fei in the foreground was part of the original water cube deployment team during the Olympics and is in charge of the final step of converting the renderings to the specially designed control interface. He is also in charge of the hardware. Zhao Liang , behind him, is in charge of fine tuning the software that generates the daily renderings. In the back Jennifer provides Zhao with guidance. To the right is one of the indefatigable video crew documentarians that followed us around close to 24 X 7

Zheng Jianwei (Lighting Designer) Zhao and Jennifer discussing an effect. You can see various Water Cube Lighting Control systems on the monitors

I setup a framework that would read the data from Weibo and the Calendar as an XML file, generate the animations and output them into the Water Cube format. This was all done in a great real time video synthesis toolkit called vvvv (check them out vvvv.org )

Jennifer's favorite patch. It reminds us of a Sol Lewitt. It is actually controlling the joints between a line of particles that we use to generate waves (and yes vvvv-ers a recursive subpatch could have been used, but this is so purty!)

So we have the I-Ching telling us what the nature of each day is, say Thunder, or Fire, Water ... We also have the day's emotional content in China. The day's emotion is read by scraping emoji (emoticons) posted on Weibo

Liang Mao Yin doing the final touches to the Weibo scraping program while Zhao and Cindy Ma look over his shoulder in awe

The emotional content affects the day's nature. For example if today is Heaven (which is symbolized by a white circle) and the day is sad, the circle will grow very little and very slowly. If instead China had a great day, the circle grows quickly to a very large one.

Heaven. The top is turned off during this test.

Programming this was a trip. We normally render animations in High Definition, but here we were working with a kind of very low def as each side is 72 giant bubbles long. And while the bubbles themselves have dozens of lamps in a row along the bottom of each bubble, and each lamp is individually addressable, the effect is that the bubble lights up with one color, or a very gentle gradient. To complicate things further the bubbles do not line up so straight lines are squiggly! On the other hand, basic geometric shapes displayed on the water cube as wonderful abstract images.

For example: Fire starts like this in vvvv:

and ends up like this:

Needless to say I'm very happy with the way this project happened, and I loved working with Jennifer and all of the Beijing team. I can't wait to get back to Beijing to spend some fun times with them.

For more about this project please see Jennifer's website. Also there is a great post about it on The Creators Project.
Jennifer Wen Ma
The Creators Project

ps. featured on CNN! Fareed Zakaria's The last word

Reproduction Is Prohibited

Reproduction Is Prohibited Mirror
Guillermo Acevedo, b. 1966*

Reproduction Is Prohibited, 2007

Software, cameras, sensors, screen, and wooden furniture

This piece is contemplative, and at times reveals just how hard the machine is trying to see, to truly understand what is going on.
When the viewer approaches the piece he first sees a mirror, a projection showing the room he is in. But as he gets closer the mirror refuses to show the viewer's face, showing his back instead.
The installation talks to Magritte's painting, but while Magritte was talking about the gaze of the collector and what is behind the painting, this one adds the gaze of the painting itself, while keeping up the conversation about the human condition and the substance of art.

Year Of The Motorcycle

YOM Logo
Year of the motorcycle
Large interactive movie done in collaboration with Evan Raskob and T.R. Ericson
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Believing that humans are the only beings that are alive and sentient is folly and presumptuous. Just because we aren't aware does not mean that machines, especially intelligent machines, are not, in some level, alive and feeling. We might be in a similar situation as the Spaniards were when upon discovering the natives of the New World decided that these did not have a soul (and of course acted in consequence with disastrous results for these natives.) We could do much better and allow ourselves to empathize with these newly discovered beings we make. I try to pass a Turing test of sorts, one that empathizes.

Guillermo was born in Providence, Rhode Island, lived in Colombia from 1975 to 1999, lives and works in New York since 2001

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