“Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.” Mohsin Hamid
Here we are, the final Echo reverberates across The Cube in hybrid glitch form.
The photo booth is installed, the virtual mirror throbs in anticipation and the Echo character maps across the space. She navigates us, “Come closer” she says, you are now part of something bigger”.
The last month has seen many creative and technical developments, including the integration of the narratives. They began as fiction and ended as readymades. Real intimate stories from real people. Through the mirror our storytellers confide in you, the user, revealing moments of their lives where they have suffered or overcome hardship. As their narrative unfolds the features of your face slowly morph into their face. They operate you with their expressions and leave you placed firmly in their shoes. This intimate experience forces us to relate and connect with those outside of our normal social sphere. Narrative has long been a tool for empathy, awareness and social change, Echo intends to push this further still by immersing the viewer visually as well as through the imagination.
“Storytelling is both the seductive siren and the safe haven that encourages the connection with the feared “other.” How we relate to stories and storytelling can be seen as an acid-test for empathy.” PJ Manney 2008
As I sit in The Cube and watch people interact I’m seeing the experiment unfold in so many different ways, working for a range of ages and tendencies. Within five minutes these animated experiences jump from the intimate booth to the large screens above and a new digital family begins to breed. The aim of the project is to break down prejudices and connect people through shared identity and expression. Check out this taster video
“Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.” Brecht
As the world becomes more complex and digitally connected the role of empathy becomes more and more important as we become more isolated. In the future Echo will continue to build a culturally diverse archive of stories and identities with the intention of finding a new personalised, emotive tool to connect people and tackle the epidemic of loneliness of our digital age.
Echo will be screening at The Cube until Friday 28 April.
A month under my belt and still two to go. The project is growing limbs by the second and each day seems more exciting than the last. Tech wise our facial tracking application is well on the way to having the main functionality working smoothly. Here’s a taster video of the first stage recorded live from the application with a few treatments added.
The next stage is user interface design and narrative content. It’s time to bring fiction, drama and sound to the work so you might see me cruising around Kelvin Grove campus collecting and researching personal stories. Don’t be shy, come and say Hello and get involved in my project.
Over the next three weeks I’ll use this research to write some intimate stories with the help of the creative writing and drama students. These narratives will be integrated into the final user experience where you literally see through someone else’s eyes, kickstarting the empathy engine..
Still so much to do but with the support of The Cube and the Creative Industries team, anything is possible!
I’m a multimedia artist completing a residency at The Cube for the next three months.
I studied Vis Arts at QUT way back in the 90’s and since then I have been travelling across Europe and Australia making audio visual work for both stage and screen. 17 years later I’m back and with my geek on…
Here’s a link to my Showreel if you’re interested: https://vimeo.com/159136216
My creative practice has, for many years, used technology to explore notions of physical and emotional empathy. Here and now I’ll be developing a project called Echo. Over the next few months I’ll be designing elements and software for an interactive installation that is a morphing virtual mirror. The viewer will be able to customise an interchangeable avatar and fragment and mix their own face with the features of other people and animals, creating a range of morphing hybrid personalities. We’re also developing a real time facial tracking application that copies your expressions as you wear anothers face or multiple faces.
I want to explore how we respond to our face being fragmented and manipulated by others and if it is possible to build community by developing a truly ‘shared’ identity? Does a combined identity extend the parts of us or dilute us? What can we learn about narcism and empathy through this experience? And what can we learn about micro expressions?
Two weeks in and already progress is being made within Unity, the game engine we are using to build the software. I’m also loving getting lost in transmission chaos land of animated glitch fragments! Here’s a video link to some animation tests I’ve been playing with: https://vimeo.com/203231463
In April the installation will run and the animated portraits will be installed into The Cube with an event that showcases the application as a live tool for Public performance.
Will tune in again soon, hope to face mosh with you…