The Window (2011)

Running Time: 1 minute 58 seconds

The Window is an interactive installation that uses large multi-touch screens to give people control over the composition of a multisensory 'dreamscape'. Through the wiping and scraping away of virtual frost, viewers are able to reveal images from beyond the barrier of the touch-screens while leaving traces of their own interactions. Slowly, by means of these actions, a story is revealed within the impressions in the frost of a figure walking alone through a dark forest. Muddled — yet still sharp at the same time — these images relate the anxious state of mind of someone trying to contend with being alone in an uneasy surrounding. As viewers engage with The Window, they not only leave their own impressions, but they may also re-experience impressions that reside in their own memory.

The Window (2011) The Window (2011) The Window (2011)

development

NOTE: The Window is an ongoing project that I began developing in January 2011. The version of the installation shown in the video above is a working prototype.

Inspiration for the multi-user, multi-touch interface that functioned as the software foundation for The Window came from the act of leaving handmade impressions on a large frosted window. Using this frosted window analogy as a guide, I was able to create an interactive experience that was not only intuitive, but also satisfying to engage with (people were free to 'draw' and 'scribble' in, or simply 'wipe' away, the virtual veil of frost to reveal the imagery underneath). This notion of being able to uncover something that is hidden or blurred by physically removing frost (or fog) also played well with my artistic objectives of transforming the touch-screens into a window of discovery on the inner workings of an emotional mind. So, not only could viewers leave their imprint on The Window, but it could also effectively leave an imprint on the viewers.

The Window (2011) The Window (2011) The Window (2011)

Preliminary examinations into frameworks to focus this interface research and development centered around three programming environments: Processing (a Java based programming environment), openFrameworks (a C++ programming framework) and Cocoa (the native Mac OS programming frameworks). Ultimately, I selected to use Processing to direct the bulk of my prototyping because it provided the most versatility for quick experimentation, and also because it offered the most accessible programming libraries for people just starting to learn complex development topics. The ease of progress made with Processing also afforded me more time to concentrate on the quality of user experience with the installation rather than the debugging of program code — something that can consume a progressive amount of time when a programming project grows.

The only drawbacks I found with using Processing during my project were in the areas of stability and speed. Though the prototype of The Window functions proficiently, any long-term installation (which could potentially run for weeks or months on its own) will likely have to be developed to operate under a pure Java or C/C++ environment (with the aid of a sturdy graphics library such as OpenGL). I have already started the initial investigations into how these environments can support a long-run installation.

The open source tracking program Community Core Vision (CCV) was used to translate the touch and wipe gestures from the touch-screens for use in the visualizations.

technology

  • (3x) 6 foot wide touch-screens
  • Processing
  • Community Core Vision (CCV)

support

Funding support for the initial research and protoyping phase of The Window was provided by The Alberta Foundation for the Arts. Access to work space and the use of the large touch-screens was kindly donated by the Creative Environment for Emerging Electronic Culture at the Alberta College of Art + Design. Additional production support for the project was given by fellow new media artist Shiori Saito who aided me in the areas of interface research/programming, content generation and video/photo documentation. Thank You Everybody!

Alberta Foundation for the Arts Creative Environment for Emerging Electronic Culture