by: Ahmed Mohamed
My piece called “Explore” is an interactive installation which aims to get the audience involved and let them explore the space around them. It is essentially a webcam which lets you create visual art by detecting motion. By using simple gestures, it creates range of colourful bright strokes where the viewer can change the size and shapes using sliders built in within the webcam.
At first, I believed the audience would be anyone entering the exhibition or interested in the visual arts. During the exhibition I found out that, those who are most interested in my installation where amazed by the stream of colours that were presented to them , artist or not. The exhibition provided me to find out who my installation was truly aimed for, I found out that the viewers tended to bond together because of the playful colours , as they “explored” the piece it looked like they were in world of their own, like a child. My piece essentially focuses on evoking childhood moments.
At the beginning, I had trouble coming up with an solid idea however I knew I wanted to work with webcams and interaction. I had always seemed interested in the concept of getting viewers involved within my art rather than them just observing the piece, as it allows them to freely express themselves via interaction. I began researching and I stumbled a work similar to what I wanted to achieve , by studying the webcam interaction it helped me develop the concept of my idea further.
Initially I wanted to wanted to include random shapes to pop up when the viewer moves around , I had to look at frame differencing to achieve this. it is a technique which where the computer checks the difference between two video frames, where the current frame is compared with the previous frame. I have found a code that does this called Optical Flow which uses dots to track motion. This was a great starting point as it helped me progress further to realise my idea. I faced problems when I tried to display the colour dots when only motion is detect , this took a long time to fix, and furthermore coding the program in p5.js left me disadvantaged to what I can do. I decided to include 4 sliders which lets the viewers can play around the aesthetic appearance of the installation. One of the sliders could change the size of the dots which made gave it a spontaneous feel to it , as if it was moving art rather than motion detection. As well I added another slider which lets the user change the shape of the strokes.
I wanted to include foreground detection, also known as background subtraction , which is a technique used to separating out the foreground object from the background in a sequence of video frames. I would use this method to only show the moving objects, so that I could remove the background and add moving visual art. I decided I wanted to carry just focusing on frame differencing. I thought just showing the strokes of colour when motion detected was a simpler idea , which ended up producing a program where the audience can interact with the webcam.
I have received a lot of positive comments of my work , varying from different interpretations. I got comments saying how the colours absorbs them within my work, I would say this because of the overwhelming range of colour and the pattern they move in , in a way it can be quite hypnotic. The use of colours was my strongest factor which drew the audience into the work.