“Skinput: Appropriating the Body as an Input Surface”, Chris Harrison

Devices with significant computational power and capabilities can now be easily carried on our bodies. However, their small size typically leads to limited interaction space (e.g., diminutive screens, buttons, and jog wheels) and consequently diminishes their usability and functionality. Since we cannot simply make buttons and screens larger without losing the primary benefit of small size, we consider alternative approaches that enhance interactions with small mobile systems.

One option is to opportunistically appropriate surface area from the environment for interactive purposes. For example, Scratch Input is technique that allows a small mobile device to turn tables on which it rests into a gestural finger input canvas. However, tables are not always present, and in a mobile context, users are unlikely to want to carry appropriated surfaces with them (at this point, one might as well just have a larger device). However, there is one surface that has been previous overlooked as an input canvas, and one that happens to always travel with us: our skin.

Appropriating the human body as an input device is appealing not only because we have roughly two square meters of external surface area, but also because much of it is easily accessible by our hands (e.g., arms, upper legs, torso). Furthermore, proprioception (our sense of how our body is configured in three-dimensional space) allows us to accurately interact with our bodies in an eyes-free manner. For example, we can readily flick each of our fingers, touch the tip of our nose, and clap our hands together without visual assistance. Few external input devices can claim this accurate, eyes-free input characteristic and provide such a large interaction area.


“Frequency and Volume”, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Frequency and Volume enables participants to tune into and listen to different radio frequencies by using their own bodies. A computerised tracking system detects participants’ shadows, which are projected on a wall of the exhibition space. The shadows scan the radio waves with their presence and position, while their size controls the volume of the signal. The piece can tune into any frequency between 150 kHz and 1.5 GHz, including air traffic control, FM, AM, short wave, cellular, CB, satellite, wireless telecommunication systems and radio navigation. Up to 48 frequencies can be tuned simultaneously and the resulting sound environment forms a composition controlled by people’s movements. This piece visualizes the radioelectric spectrum and turns the human body into an antenna. All the receiver equipment used and antennae are exhibited in an adjacent room.

The project was developed at a time when the Mexican Government was very active in shutting down informal or “pirate” radio stations in indigenous communities in the states of Chiapas and Guerrero. The question “who has access to the public space that is the radioelectric spectrum” is one that deserves attention and visualization tools not just in Mexico but also here in the developed world, where there is a remarkable assymmetry in the assignation of frequencies only to government or corporate interests to the detriment of community-building, experimental or artistic uses of the spectrum. This project was inspired by the “Manifesto for Antenna-Man” and the radio poetry experiments by the Mexican estridentista artists in the 1920s.


“Good Girl”, Effie Wu

Good Girl is an interactive live performance with 3 video-projections in real live size.
The performer (me) is dressed in white cloth and wears white make-up on the whole body, which creates another constructed projection surface. She is performing in front of the projection surface and is projection surface herself. Additionally she is walking from one video projection into the next, changing between the roles of the 3 videos: 1. a neat girl who smiles in a garden of roses; 2. a brave schoolchild doing gymnastic exercises with discipline; 3. a long-haired elegant woman bowing polite to all passing people. These 3 stereotypes show the expectations, which society holds, like images which are projected on us. It is our aim to become such a human for our whole life. Using this projection metaphor the performer uses her body expression to match these stereotypes, one by one, like we play the different roles in our everyday life. The point of view of this work is trying to match(cannot match). There are just very short moments when real body and projection fit together exactly, which show the huge difficulty. And even when it fits, it looks weird and seems like a deathlike face. This work is a bit self-mockery, playing with the Asian stereotype of western people. It is about how the western people think of the Asian people. And consciously and properly I use these stereotypes to strengthen the idea of adaption.


“Phantasmagoria: Specters of Absence”, The Contemporary Museum, Makiki Heights (Honolulu)

Phantasmagoria: Specters of Absence, brings together 13 international artists including Christian Boltanski, Jim Campbell, Michel Delacroix, Laurent Grasso, upcoming 02art4 artist Jeppe Hein, TCM collection artist William Kentridge, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Teresa Margolles, Oscar Muñoz, Julie Nord, Rosângela Rennó, and Regina Silveira who use ephemeral means in their work such as fog, reflection, shadows, and vapors. The exhibition title refers to 18th-and 19th-century entertainments created by “magic lanterns” and rear-screen shadow projections. These precursors of the modern film projector were used to stage dancing specters and other frightening theatrical effects for their audiences. The exhibition draws on this rich theatrical tradition to reframe questions of absence and loss, death and the afterlife around contemporary issues.

The shadow—literally, the absence of light—represents something that is beyond the object yet inseparable from it. In many of the works included in Phantasmagoria, shadows are used to allude to death, the obscure, and the unnamable, and to construct allegories of loss and disappearance. In several of these pieces, the artists evoke performances of shadow theater, as in the work by South African artist William Kentridge, and in French artist Christian Boltanski’s shadows from cut-tin puppets, recalling imagery from the carnival as well as figurines used to celebrate the Mexican Day of the Dead.

Mist, breath, and fog are often associated with mystery; in their double status as perceptible yet almost nonexistent phenomena, they suggest evanescence or absence. In Brazilian artist Rosângela Rennó’s arresting installation Experiencing Cinema, fog is employed as a curtain onto which family photos are projected, addressing the fleeting nature of memories and the images that attempt to record them. Throughout the installations presented in the exhibition, artists’ use of shadows and/or actual fog and mist evokes the alluring enigma and magic of Phantasmagoria.


“Line Describing A Cone”, Anthony McCall

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