Audience, conceived by rAndom International, is an installation consisting of around 64 head-size mirror objects. Each object moves its head in a particular way to give it different characteristics of human behaviour. Some chat amongst themselves, some shy away and others confidently move to grab your attention.
When members of the audience occupy the space, the mirrors inquisitively follow someone that they find interesting. Having chosen their subject, they all synchronise and turn their heads towards them. Suddenly that person can see their reflection in all of the mirrors. They will watch this person until they become disinterested, then either seek out another subject or return to their private chatter. The collective behaviour of the objects is beyond the control of the viewer, as it is left entirely to their discretion to let go of their subject.
The installation aims to reverse the roles of the viewer and the viewed during this in-voluntary interaction. It seeks to establish a different kind of relationship between viewer and technology. Will other members of the audience experience the sensation of being ignored or excluded when they are not the centre of attention? Will the installation create a feeling of un-ease and unsettlement? The work investigates if machines can evoke diverse emotional reactions with the simplest of means.
Each mirror object can be placed in any location and angle. A calibration set-up stage informs the software of these details. Each mirror is controlled by two servo motors giving it pan and tilt rotations. The mirrors rotate themselves in such a way that enables the viewer to approximately see their face in each mirror.
The chat state is not random movement, but carefully scripted to give each mirror the appearance of different natural behaviors.
An overhead camera provides a live image for analysis. An individual is then tracked using optical flow, to help stick with that person through a crowd.
All of the hardware and circuits are custom made by rAndom International. The software was developed in c++ using openFrameworks and OpenCV.
Concept & Design – rAndom International
Hardware – rAndom International
Software – Chris O’Shea
Images on Flickr
Art Brussels, 2010
Private collection, US 2010
Decode, V&A Museum, London 2009
Design Miami/Basel, Switzerland 2009
Royal Opera House, London 2008