Tag Archives: glitches

21. iMorphia Public Demonstration

On the 2nd of June I demonstrated a new version of iMorphia at a public art event Film Free and Easy in the Primary Art Studios in Nottingham.

By pressing a mouse button, the new version enabled the instant changing of a character between male and  female, plus the addition or not of tattoos. Rather than costuming the characters, I chose to create naked characters using the latest edition of MakeHuman. The idea of a person donning a white boiler suit over their clothes then appearing virtually naked I felt added an element of risk and surreal drama to the occasion.

Five visitors to the exhibition chose to experience iMorphia whilst a small audience watched the proceedings. Positive feedback from the participants and audience confirmed the effectiveness of the illusion in producing a strange and disturbing unworldly ghost like character. One person commenting that from a distance they thought they were watching a film, until they came closer and were surprised in realising the character was being projected onto and controlled in real time by a performer.

Recorded footage of iMorphia once again demonstrated how participants creatively exploited glitches produced by Kinect tracking errors. Laughter resulting from one of the participants breaking the tracking entirely by squatting down:

7. Performance and Games Workshop


A two day collaborative workshop exploring performance, the Kinect, and movement based games took place at Lincoln University on 25th/26th March 2014 . The event was organised by Dr Patrick Dickinson  and hosted by the Performance and Games Network .

The first day consisted of talks by:

Ida Toft and Sabine Harrer of the Copenhagen Game Collective;
Nick Burton, New Technology Lead of Rare Gaming;
David Renton, Microsoft MVP
(Kinect for Windows technical communities)
and Matt Watkins of Mudlark.

This was followed by group discussions in preparation for the collaborative “hack” day exploring five themes:

  1. Interfaces for Performance (Leaders: Duncan Rowland, Kate Sicchio)
  2. Mobility Impaired Performance (Leader: Kathrin Gerling)
  3. Physical Games in Playgrounds (Leader: Grethe Mitchell)
  4. Performative interfaces to seed social encounters (Leader: John Shearer)
  5. Audience and Movement Games (Leader: Patrick Dickinson)

I joined the Interfaces for Performance group where we had a lively group discussion on notions of interface, HCI, Human Human interfaces with the idea of creating challenging, embarrassing and awkward interactive acts and interfaces. (inspired by Sabine Harrer and her work on awkward games)

The large group spilt into sub groups to develop individual and group sub projects. I worked with artist/performer/dancer Ruth Gibson of Igloo exploring the idea of a motion capture (Cinema Mocap) as a tool for improvised performance.

ruth lincoln

Playing on the idea of awkwardness, the hack demo was conceptualised as a game where two or more people would record a short awkward, challenging or embarrassing performance for the second person to try and copy or improvise.

Ruth’s initial performance involved rapid and complex movements and challenged the ability of the mocap system to record correctly, resulting in distorted limbs and inhuman movements. The glitches however inspired Ruth to produce a motion capture of an inhuman looking movement:

In the discussion after the demo it was suggested that the prototype resembled a motion capture version of the game of Exquisite Corpse, leading to discussions of how it could be developed into a game with scoring and also find application in serious games such as dance training.

The ability of capturing and replaying motion within the Unity Games Engine offers scope for further performance experiments and scripting opportunities for the development of an improvisation or practise tool.

The following video illustrates how expressive actions can be captured and re-represented by a male and a female Unity character.

Further research will be to investigate  the difference between  possessing a unity character – where it copies you – to being possessed by it  – where you try and copy it.  A convolution like algorithm could be used to generate a ‘coherence value’ indicating the closeness of the  movements which could be used to give real time user feedback or generate a score. Generating real-time user feedback of the coherence value via colour or sound would result in the performer learning to copy and move in time with the movements of the character. Applications of coherence feedback might be in “serious games” such as  dance practise, sports exercise and taichi.

6. “User Testing”

Below are videos taken from a number of participants acting as an early form of “user testing”, an HCI term I am borrowing for purposes of illustration. Strictly speaking it is not classic user testing as no official ethnographic studies were carried out –  research questions were not formulated or posed, nor any user interviews or recorded user feedback carried out.  However as a form of open ended user feedback the “experiments” (another value laden term in classic research) proved useful and also underlined the value of exposing the system to more participants in the form of the forthcoming workshops.

Applying a form of auto-ethnographic analysis I observed that new participants highlighted the differences  between someone versed with using the system (myself) and its constraints such as tracking speed and coherence of body mapping.

New users pushed the limits of the system  and gave positive feedback on “glitches” I had tried to avoid – such as system mis-tracking resulting in a limb jumping out of place or characters contorting in an unrealistic fashion.

Verbal feedback of female participants puppeteering a male and a female character also proved interesting. One performer commented on the challenge she felt on becoming the surfer dude character –  visually judging them as the sort of person she would not want to talk to in every day life. This observation suggests a series of further tests and the creation of a range characters that people might feel uncomfortable with.

Another female participant commented on the feeling of alienation of appearing as a male, stating that she knew she was a woman and not a male so felt  a strong disconnection with the projected character, the same participant from her comments appeared to feel more disturbed when taking on the realistic female character in a bathing costume, and used the term uncanny without prompting. Such reactions might also be connected with “cognitive  dissonance”.  However if I wished to analyse peoples reactions to taking on differing projected genders from a psychological perspective I would need to bring in expert help.