Farbe, Licht und Interaktion


Noé Gogniat

ZHdK 2022

When I signed up for this module I wanted to create a light installation that people could interact with. I had already coded some interactive audio-visual works that were used in several parties as VJing, these visuals were developed especially for tech-oriented parties and were therefore quite colourful, abrupt and dense. After our visit to the Migros Museum in Zurich to see Evan Ifekoya's exhibition, Resonant Frequencies, and looking at James Turell's work, I decided that this project will be more contemplative and relaxing than my previous ones.

From the beginning, I wanted this project to react to the movements or positioning of people in a three-dimensional environment. As most of the existing colour spaces (RBG, HSB, LAB, etc.) use 3 different axes to define a colour, I soon thought of assigning each axis of our three-dimensional world to a value of one of these colour spaces.

At this point, I didn't had a clear idea of how the work would look like. I somehow wanted it to have a subject, to be something more than a fun thing to play with. During this module my emotional state was quite fragile, I had to set strict boundaries so that I wouldn't be overwhelmed by what was going on in my life. I could still interact with my friends and classmates, but if any of my boundaries were crossed, I needed to take time for myself. I decided to build this project around that fragility.

I first had to think of a shape that would embody my emotional state. The idea of borders made me think of the term "private sphere", so I settled on its two-dimensional equivalent, the circle. I then defined all the different states that this circle could have. I came up with 5 distinct states: idle, reacting, sharing, offended and destroyed. The idle state occurs when the installation is alone, it changes colour on its own. This state represents introspection. When someone approaches the installation, it welcomes the visitor by entering the reacting state in which the circle expands and changes colour depending on the position of the visitor. The installation can react to more than one person. If no one moves for a certain period of time, the circle switches to the sharing state and displays the same colours as in the resting state. If a visitor gets too close to the circle, it retracts and refuses any interaction, this is the offended state. If the visitor ignores this state and moves even closer to the circle, the installation self-destructs for a while. This state can also be triggered if the visitor offends the circle too often.

At that point, my project was conceptually ready, I just needed to think of how I could realise it. The first code I wrote was a blob detection algorithm to track the visitor. My first attempt wasn't very successful.

After tweaking it, I ended up with a pretty decent blob detection algorithm.

I then gave a RGB or HSB value to each axis and tried two different ways of displaying the colours.

Here is a three-dimensional representation of the idle state.

I decided to keep the one spreading from the centre, because I felt it would be more relaxing to look at and interact with. After playing with a few gradient formula I settle on the distance (mapped between 1 and 0) to the power of .125 for the idle state and the distance squared for the other states. Finally I turned my attention to the physical aspect of the installation. I used a Kinect (Xbox 360 V01) to track visitors in a three-dimensional space and a beamer to project the circle onto the floor. The projector was suspended from the end of an aluminium tube that was tilted so it could not be seen by the Kinect.

I had an issue with the USB cable extension that wasn't able keep up with the flux of data sent by the Kinect. This issue made my program crash almost instantly. Consequently, my computer was placed on the ceiling.

The installation was now fully functional.