An installation for Rijksmuseum Twenthe and Designing Interactive Experiences

We live in a world with tons of distractions all around us. We are always being distracted by people who want to contact us. We can see what is happening in the world in an instance. We can even capture every single moment within a second just by pressing a button.
We have thousands of pictures with family members and friends of vacations, special moments or even random things we were doing. A picture is so easily made nowadays.
Can we even imagine a world where this was not possible? Where most moments only become memories? Where time can only be captured through a brush and paint?
A family was lucky if they had the opportunity to capture their family in a portrait. It was expensive, it was an event that required focus. It was special. 

The Concept

For the course Designing Interactive Experiences together with my group I created an installation that brought the visitor back in a world without cameras. The visitor experienced what it was like to have a portrait made by a painter, where focus and patience was of the essence, but with the distractions of today. The installation brought ancient and new media together and let the user experience the impact of all the distractions we are exposed to in our daily lives. It created awareness of the big difference between the ‘quiet’ ancient times and the hectic modern society. The installation was made to complement an exposition of Rijksmuseum Twenthe in the Netherlands that consisted of old family portraits and was named ‘Joy and Sorrow’ (Lief en Leed).

The Interaction

The visitors were invited to sit across a painting easel, which represented a painter. They were told to sit up straight, correct their posture and look towards the easel. A sign lighted up to indicate the painting was begun. Whenever the visitor would move or change the posture, the sign would go off and the painting would stop. The painter would instruct them to move back into their original position and continue when they did. In the meanwhile, distracting sounds are played in the near surroundings of the user. The sounds were sirens, horns and all kinds of social media notifications. They represented the daily life distractions in our society.

A Modern Age Portrait

The installations captured every movement of the user and layered all these captures on each other. The result was a distorted portrait of the user which thus showed how much the user was moved. The users could email the portrait to themselves if they wanted.

My Part

I was responsible for the face tracking system, which it used to detect the user’s movement and was the core of the installation. This core system triggered all the interaction, such as the introductory and outro videos, the voice feedback, the distraction sounds and lighted sign. My work also included the e-mail feature, distraction sounds and hardware setup.  

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