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Trails #3 & #4

A common paradigm in the new media genre are pieces that reflect some aspect of the viewer's visual appearance - virtual "mirrors" that take in live video input (usually via webcam) and then feed back that visual data in intriguing ways. My interest in using this technology is not to simply present a two dimensional "mirror," but to combine that effect with 3D graphics, creating an onscreen virtual space that is sculptural and architectural, as well as, graphical. I call the approach "3D Video Sculpture."

"Trails #3" and "Trails #4" are interactive works using a webcam and specialized software to generate interactive 3D Video Sculptures on a computer screen.

Trails #3: "Bricks" (click on a picture for a larger version)

Continuing with the technology created for the first "Trails" experiments and looking forward to different directions, I put less of am emphasis on the original networked concept for the earlier pieces and aimed to see if I could create visual situations that were just as reactive but took at least one more step into the realm of the abstract.

"Trails #3" and "Trails #4" are a result of changes of how the installation is set up and some additional graphical processing to create a more sparse visual experiences that emphasize presence and structure over detail and color. A major change to how the piece is installed is the use of a uniformly white background for the subjects in front of the camera instead of the black background used for the earlier pieces.

The original intent behind the 3D Video Sculpture engine was to build interactive works that had an architectural as well as a sculptural feeling to them and "Trails #3" is a step back towards that direction.

The white background coupled with the new coloring filtering and drawing code led to an interesting outline effect. The layers of cubes, although still temporally mapped, are less about creating trails of presence and instead add a frenetic and alive feeling to the landscape of structures (made up of uniformly drab "Bricks") created by the video input.


Trails #4: "Light Trails" (click on a picture for a larger version)

I wanted to play with colored light again, especially after being inspired by images of aurora borealis and "Trails #4: Light Trails" is the resulting piece. By changing how the software deals with color and how it decides what to draw when, "Trails #4" is much more of an abstract mess of light than the superficially similar "Trails #1." Depending on how the light and web camera capture the viewer, unexpected elements of the subject create turbulent storm clouds of pastel colored light that are at certain camera angles reminiscent of the Northern Lights.

While less structural than "Trails #3," "Trails #4" is similar in that there are at most viewpoints in the onscreen 3D space, the viewer's presence is abstracted but still directly interactive and encourages playful discovery and interaction.

Click here to view "Trails #3: Bricks" in motion!. (3.50 MB Quicktime Movie)

Click here to view "Trails #4: Light Trails" in motion!. (4.35 MB Quicktime Movie)

The software was created in Windows C++ using Visual C++ .NET, using Quicktime for live video capture and OpenGL for graphics.

A big thanks to Daniel Shiffman and nehe.gamedev.net.

e-mail me at edtang at antiexperience.com


All Materials Copyright © 2004 Edward Tang. All materials on this site including interactive programs, images, videos, and text are the property of Edward Tang and is protected by copyright and are not to be reproduced without permission. All Rights Reserved.