A day in the life in major cities, millions of strangers can be found passing within inches of each other – in subway stations, sidewalks, on public streets. We are a network of strangers moving in such close proximity that occasionally it becomes a dehumanized experience. In these fleeting moments spent in interstitial spaces, we find ourselves detached from the present state of where we are amongst the human swarm.
This installation explores how crowded cities influence our sense of personal space, through a real-time interactive environment that tracks our spatial data. It examines how our mental barriers are fluid, adaptable, and eventually meant to be broken, such that our sense of space is widened through the interaction with others.
The installation tracks five real-time information.
1. Physical Distance between people
2. Speed people are moving in interactive space
3. Size of personal space that changes in size when there are more people
4. Time spent in close proximity
5. How many people they have come in close contact with
Breaking down the user experience in the interactive space.
Building The Setup
Hardware: Hacked the PS3 Eye Camera, inserted a floppy disk to track infrared light. The schematic to attach the projector mount and camera in order to track people on a public street in New York.
Testing protocol based on user observation to uncover how strangers react and gather feedback. The first iteration revealed an organic border that morphs and wraps users closer to each other in the shared space.
The second iteration used overlapping circles to reveal hidden messages, that can only be discovered by collaborating with another person within the space.
How it Works — User Interaction
When one person enters the interactive space, he only sees a circle that surrounds him that tracks his speed of movement. When a second and third person enters, a line connects all of them, creating a network that tracks their physical distance. As they move closer towards one other, their circles merge— revealing an algorithmic pattern that morphs based on the time spent together in close proximity. This algorithm changes as more people come together, making it visually more exciting and animates based on the time spent in close proximity.
Envisioning Future End States
The intention of this piece is not for a museum setting, where people may enter with a different experience, with certain expectations for something to happen. It is meant to enhance the current social interaction in a public space, which I hope to continue to work for in its future state with festivals, such as the Singapore Night Festival that is able to push this into a more public setting.
Special thanks to— Isaac Wong, Sven Travis, Marko Tandefelt and Loretta Wolozin