Abstract V.03

Sight, Touch, Mind Bending Apparatus- Thesis abstract by Link Huang

There’s the saying, “eyes are the windows to your soul”. This window is a two way access for massive amounts of quick interactions between the viewed and the viewer. Although to completely rely on sight can often mislead and deliver false information to the viewer, tricking the mind to think one thing is bigger than another, one color looks different than the compared just because its environments are different, or even unexpected reveal of objects. This occurs in real life but even more so on film and Television. My inspirations are driven by motivations from techniques used in visual effects and optical illusions in conjunction with physical mechanics. Techniques such as mechanical transformations, green screen composite, particle animations, sense of 3 dimensional space, or even holographic interfaces. Some methods are by embedding artificial sensors (such as cameras, microphones, temperature, proximity, and touch sensors) in tangible forms to allow the separation of perception and body.

These attributes are embedded in devices to manipulate perception and conscious to allow variations of experiences by individuals. As Maurice Merleau-Ponty observed that “consciousness exists in the world and experience of things in the word exist in consciousness”. Perceptive manipulation devices can alter the consciousness. A recent experiment by Ehrsson in 2007 was done by mounting a video camera on the head to allow users to perceive a variety of out-of-body experience.

Galvano-vestibular stimulation system by Fitzpatrick investigates a systems that can manipulate the sense of balance, reflexes, and proprioception. Startling sensations such as sirens, bright flashes, or even vibrations to the sense of touch can unconsciously divert our attention. George Stetten devised the concept of FingerSight in 1999. It extends human sight to fingers by detecting reflected laser light to vibrations felt on the surface of finger, allowing the device to mimic the phenomena of synethesia.

My professional background comes from storyboarding to animation in the broadcast motion graphics and film industry, it is in conjunction with my personal hobby of various material craft and mechanical works has led me towards my obsession. Example projects I worked on include the 11th Finger, Velit, and Healthbrush. 11th Finger is a hat-like device worn on the head with a finger on the top. Driven by two servo motors and read-outs from a infrared camera that senses the direction of the left eye worn by the user and points the finger in the same direction. Velit was a project to investigate object animism and this autonomous wishing machine takes on a life of it’s own. This creature reacts left and right to the movement of the person standing in front and opens its mouth at a intimate distance when the person’s face comes close, revealing a dandelion looking wishing star created with several tiny LEDs and an audio sensor. The user can also interacts with it by feeding it with some wishes and a breath of air, blowing into the star. Feeding Velit with a wish excites the creature and changes it’s LED tail pattern. When there is no interaction, this creature doze off and falls asleep. The third project is Healthbrush. This is a concept demo of a toothbrush that will analyze the user’s blood from the average daily routine and give the user’s health statistics, assessments, and suggestions.

The thesis investigation I am proposing plays with the language of visual effects as they are applied in an immersive film experience (ex:multiplicity, duplication) into tangible real world things. The goal is to experiment with the possibility to manipulate perception, extending the visual experience of special effects (with theories like gestalt and cognitive psychology) to other senses and in effect subverting expectations of “familiar interactions”, reintroducing the possibility for discovery, and stimulating imagination.

Investigation Questions:

• if visual effects in film have the capability to convincingly deceive us, and draw us into a scripted narrative, what would be the implications of the application of embedded visual effects in physical world?

• would they become entertainment, or could they have a deeper effect in subverting our expectations?

• what would be the implications if our objects subverting our expectations-on our sensory perception, relationship to objects, to entertainment?

• if the frequency of light waves and audio waves can be manipulated enough to cross over in our neurological responses, how can this phenomenon be synthesize towards a comprehensible narrative of personal interpretations?

• when the physical interface takes on a greater responses to touch and controls with hands and feet over digital responses that stimulates human perception, what possibilities can arise from memory, recovery, and discovery?


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