cyborg reflection

Cyborg Reflection is a human interaction mechatronics project.

Team : Fergus Laidlaw, Daniel Hale

Cyborg Reflections is a human interaction mechatronics project that captures the essence of human facial movement and mimics participants movement in its own way. The work we are proposing aims to bring into light the alien nature of technology. It aims to help us perceive technology in a sentient way, and ask questions around technological advancement that are important for the future of our relationship. Is it following me? How does it work? What does it want? Does it keep that information, and will it remember me? What is its purpose?

How it works

Technically, the artwork consisted of a camera that is used to track the viewer’s head movement and move a UV torch in dialogue with the movement it sees. The camera also tracks facial features in order to expand the torches aperture in correlation with a user opening their mouth. As the light from the torch hits the canvas from the opposite side to the viewer, it imbues the phosphorescent canvas with light that is released slowly even after the time the torch has moved on. This has the effect of creating a trail of radiating light that gets gradually dimmer as time passes, until the torch passes over that spot once again. The use of a hanging plotter mechanism provides great flexibility to the piece, allowing it to be scaled to cover very large surfaces or suspended from simple support structures instead of requiring a complex gantry system. The lightweight mechanism also means it can cope with quicker accelerations for more sensitive response to input, and it is also convenient for shipping.

Design Process

This project aims to bring into light the alien nature of technology. In its creation we experimented with some of the stranger technological phenomena that exist today before arriving at the artwork that we ultimately created.

Your face is recognised by the canvas and a pale blue light flickers on directly in front of you and you hear machinery whirring into action. As you tilt your head to question its meaning, there is a brief pause and the light follows you. You test it again moving side to side, realising the light gives off a trail, mapping your movements temporally across the blank space in front of you. You hear a new noise, higher pitched and with a more crunchy feeling to it, as you realise the light is wavering ever so slightly in size… the machine is opening with your mouth. By now there is an eerie pale blue trace illuminating you, as you stand in front of the canvas that mimics you. You think about escaping its gaze but before you can, it wanders off without you, tracing a high arcing line to your left. You stand and watch for a moment as it forms spirals in the top left corner, then you lean closer to see more clearly, and all of a sudden it moves sharply to your face once more, expanding to a wider diameter with your mouth that hangs slightly in wonder.

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