Archive for October, 2006


GestureTek Inc.

October 26, 2006

Hi Everyone,

This blog is in reference to a recent trip to GestureTek Inc. in Toronto, Ontario, Canada through the Interactive Multimedia program at Sheridan College. As noted on their website at “GestureTek Inc.™, a leading edge company who owns the patent on computer human interfacing through video cameras, created GroundFX by applying their video analysis to floor projection. Their ability to track people’s movements and actions allows GroundFX™ multimedia content to be controlled and manipulated by simply stepping up to and onto the projection.”

At GestureTek we were introduced to a variety of fascinating materials that allowed the user to physically engage with their environment. As outlined above, by stepping on an image that was projected on the floor we were able to alter the image that was set at our feet. This is the first time I’ve encountered such a process and proved to be an interesting event. There were a variety of images that were displayed and that altered in some way. I suppose the one that stood out most for me was ‘The Home Depot’. The image that was projected displayed wood chips lying seemingly still on the floor. It was only until I conferred with others that I found out that it was indeed actually wood chips that were placed there, initially, I thought it was a picture of brownish leaves. Perhaps, because it is currently fall and I generally like fall, I found myself attracted to this one in particular, but I think the fact that they were wood chips doesn’t take anything away from the impact that it had upon me. As the participant walked along or through the projected image the chips scattered to the side as if being blown by a cool wind and thus revealed an underlying image of the Home Depot’s logo. I think because it was such a common occurrence and done so subtly that it stood out as the most effective to me. It was a great way of portraying something common, making it interactive and situating one in a new environment and generating a new experience that it championed my interest.

Others were, of course, very effective, such as the air hockey and the water image that rippled. I also enjoyed the spider projection. This projected a multitude of spiders on the ground, but instead of scattering when a person walked along the projection, they actually ran towards and huddled around the participant. This definitely gives a contrary reaction because for the most part, people wouldn’t appreciate being smothered in spiders, unless of course you put a monetary value on it and implement it into a game show called something like ‘Fear factor’. Regardless, it was very interesting and definitely garnered a different emotive response.

Something that I thought was lacking though, maybe it would be too complex of a function, was the ability for the objects to move more throughout the space three dimensionally. For example, the Coke cans could be kicked and shuttled across the projected landscape, but it would have been interesting to see them decrease in size and increase again, while rotating as if you were kicking them down into some abyss, only to be drawn back up again. That would have been interesting, but again, I’m not sure how feasible it is.

As far as the other technology went, it was all very interesting and foreshadows how these types of environments can and will likely exist in our daily environments in a more common way. There was an area with a green screen background that allowed people to interact in another environment and this was then displayed on a monitor. The person or persons had a camera capturing real time footage of them and then this footage was displayed on a monitor, which was about five feet in front of them. One of the environments was a soccer field and the person acted as a goalie, while soccer balls were catapulted at them and into the net. The object of the game was to stop as many balls as possible and upon completion of this interaction the camera took a still photo of the person and listed them amongst previous contenders with their score. This game was a great example of real time interactivity and engaged the participant in a seemingly realistic way.

GestureTek is a unique environment where one can interact with objects and environments in a way that eludes to how things may one day be common place and it displays how technology can impact our current and future lives.



Jeff Tallon



Some sites that deal with Gesture Technology:





Visual Design Institute

October 26, 2006

Hello everyone,

I’m writing in reference to a tour through the Visual Design Institute at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. We just finished going over some of the Flash based projects that the design team has been working on. For the most part they were all pretty interesting and you can see how they have a practical component and the audience that they’ve been created for.

One of the first ones that we looked at was a demo called skids. It was created for the police force to help them understand and to test how skid marks from car tires are generated at accident scenes. We went through a variety of scenarios that car accidents occur in, be it from straight roads to curved or linear. It measured the length of the skids and calculated the speed that the vehicle was traveling at. This was an interesting process and one could see how this would be beneficial to police officers encountering these situations for the first time. Although it didn’t really extend much more beyond that as far as a more heightened investigation, it pretty much just set the groundwork for this investigation. It was also interesting to see how the program Flash had been used to create this.

Another project that we, Sheridan’s Interactive Multimedia class, viewed was called the Crime Scene Memory Test. This exercise displayed a series of photos that showed scenes from the exterior of a house to the interior of one’s room. The object was to try and give acute attention to the details that each image exhibited. Then there would be a multiple choice test that gave four options of possible elements that each image embodied. Upon finalization the test taker would be administered a mark based on their results. This test again showed the practical possibilities of such an exercise. I think it was created in a framework that could extend beyond the police environment. It could be used in hospitals to help those who suffer from memory problems. Also, it could be used in the educational environment for all learners and especially those who might face learning setbacks. It was an interesting exercise and the potential for other uses was far-reaching.

We viewed a project called the Ottawa Light Rail Project as well. This was a very well rendered portrayal of what it would look like if Ottawa had a light rail system similar to that of Toronto’s streetcar system. The environment was created to mirror the actual city of Ottawa and was pretty impressive. It looked very much like it and allowed the viewer to interact with it on a different scale from bird’s eye to street level. I imagine the project didn’t extend more beyond this because aside from the detailed environment it didn’t really serve much more of a purpose. That’s not to say that it needed to necessarily be some sort of video game or full on interactive environment, but it also raised possibilities for further use.

The project that I found most interesting was for a rotating arm of the muscular structure and bone structure of the upper body. I suppose I found this most compelling because of my interest in anatomy and the human figure. I could see how this would be even more interesting if you could capture an individual’s arm or a particular part of their body structure and pinpoint the joints and then use that information to replicate that part as seen from the skeletal and muscle structure. You could then see this recreated in a program and that information could be used to help rehabilitate someone who has an injury or physical displacement. It opens up a wide potential use in the bio-medical field. It could also be used in the sports environment to help athletes focus in on particular elements of a swing in baseball, tennis or cricket or a stroke in swimming or a jumpshot in basketball, etc.

After we had viewed these projects we went into a room that held three large screens. Here we watched a film that was created by Immersion Studios, which unfortunately had recently shut down. The environment was set up so that the viewer could interact with a movie that was being shown. It was a science fiction type of film and the viewers had notebooks that were interactive with the movie. So, basically every five minutes an option would come up whether one of the characters on screen should do something and the viewer was allowed one choice and the film then actualized this event based on the viewers’ response. This was a pretty interesting example of interactivity and you can see how it has taken other, but similar forms in other fields of entertainment. The tv show ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ has an interactive component in the show that allows audience members to cast their vote through a notepad located near their seat. I imagine if the Romans had had this technology some millennia ago that they might have used it in the coliseum and a competitor’s life may be in the ballot.

Overall, it was interesting to see what was being created and in such a close proximity too. It also provided a venue for much further consideration. Thanks for the opportunity!


Some links:


InterAccess lecture by: Dorian Lebreux

October 17, 2006

Hello Everyone,

Well, we just finished listening to Dorian Lebreux, who is the Studio assistant for InterAccess. As stated on the website, “InterAccess is a not-for-profit, artist-run centre that enables artists and the general public to explore the intersections of art and technology.”

It was an informative and engaging lecture that shed light on past and contemporary uses of technology in society, whether that would be gallery or public spaces. The initial discussion of ‘when did electronic art first arrive’ was interesting and could also open up a potential forum for discussing technology in general from the printing press to the computer and how the evolution of these mechanisms have shaped and altered our current global landscapes. Captain Ludd and the Luddites were said to have destructively revolted against the growth of technology and feared it’s potential uses where the Italian Futurists embraced the future and showed a lack of interest in the past, practically disassociating themselves from anything ‘old’. So, the initial question set the framework for a discussion that could continue indefinitely.

It was an interesting look at David Rokeby’s work and really gave a timeline for how things have evolved in a sound/space context. The first work displayed of his was ‘Taken’ and raised interesting notions of voyeurism and participation in a particular environment. I thought it was a very interesting concept that brushed upon the ambiguities of interacting with others in a daily setting and how close we are to each other, but then how another person comes along and one might fade into the background. Also, how there is a cyclic nature to this generally speaking and how it can be both specific and general in scope.

Another work of his that I found was interesting was “N cha(n)t”. It lent some similarity to other notable Canadian artists like Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller. One of Cardiff’s works that is currently at the National Gallery of Canada displays speakers in a chapel setting of voices in song. Years ago she did a similar installation at the Walter Philips Gallery that dealt with sound and mobility between the audience. These works engage the audio component and depending on the work can put the viewer in a position that mirrors an event happening, such as a house burning that is displayed on video. This is interesting because it displaces time and space and allows the viewer to recontextualize their environment.

Another particular work of interest was by Joshua Kingberg called “Bikes Against Bush.” This work wasn’t necessarily site specific and was made for a public place, so it brought the viewer outside of the gallery or museum setting. The bike rolled along and had spray cans attached to the back of it and a computer as well. A sentence or phrase had been programmed into the computer, which was wired to the spray cans and would discharge paint along the bike’s surface, whether that would be sidewalk, plaza or bike trail. The paint would be water dissolvable and would leave a noticeable message on the surface. I thought this was particularly interesting because it took three key elements that all have unique histories and are commonly used materials in their own right and unified them to create a work. The fact that it is noticeably accessible and so immediate also strengthens the impact of the message.

In the final remarks Dan mentioned that David Rokeby gave a lecture at Sheridan for the Interactive Multimedia program about four years ago and Rokeby as noting how he was distancing himself from focusing on the interactive component because it was lost on audiences and I thought that was interesting because it raises some notions about the traditional understanding of the gallery or museum setting and how viewers interact with the art. When viewers are placed in the gallery setting we’ve been traditionally told that works are to be viewed and not touched, but as works have continued to change and develop an impetus has been transposed upon them to engage the viewer and interact physically. This poses somewhat of a dilemma and I guess the end goal is to try and catapult viewers into a new understanding of how current and future works might require a more hands on approach. It reminds me of Micheal Foucault’s discussion about voyeurism and how from a young age we’re told not to touch with our hands, but to look instead and this is probably something that is still implemented from an early age.

Overall, I think it was interesting and opened up a lot of directions for further investigations and discussions. I’d be interested to know if the speaker had heard of Micheal Snow’s latest installation in one of Toronto’s hotels and whether she attended OCAD. Otherwise, I thought it was great and look forward to more.

Thanks for reading,

Jeff Tallon

Also, here are some links concerning interactivity and big interactivity: