I spent last week at V2_ in Rotterdam setting up WorldSkin - an Interactive A/V Installation by renowned artist Maurice Benayoun - for presentation during the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2010.
A visit to World Skin is a poignant experience. Armed with a camera, visitors are placed in a sinister war zone that is visualized on a large projection screen in 3D animation and video. By operating photo cameras visitors may take pictures of the war scenes and experience how the camera becomes a 'weapon' that enables them to wipe out the projected images. Only the outline of the taken picture is left as a silhouette in the projection. Visitors can take a print of the photos they shot with them.
World Skin was first presented 1997 and win the Golden Nica Award at the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz 1998.
The original version ran on a SGI Onyx System. This years installation is a re-design using openGL, openAL and openCV but featuring the original 1997 Graphics by Raphaël Melki and 4.1 Surround-Sound from Jean-Baptiste Barrièr.
Only the driver using a “wand” (aka Bluetooth Gamepad) can decide about the group trip. In this way, he has the role of a “bus driver”. Everyone can ask about the path alterations.
The participants are active. They have to decide about the group's movements. Otherwise they cannot take pictures of what they are seeing. Several SLR cameras hanging from the ceiling allow them to take photos. Instead of opening its shutter to capture the image, the camera sends coordinates to the computer at the time of release.
The taken shots:
With the camera - a old-fashioned SLR spiked with a 3D tracking system - the visitor can frame the virtual show at leisure. He chooses angles, frames and release time.
The triangulation is implemented with Wii-accelerometers for tilt and rotation (Pitch & Roll) mounted in the Camera, while a web-cam located above the front-screen combined with openCV software is used for detecting the position and horizontal angle (Yaw) of the cameras. Thus, the machine can compute the frame corresponding to the viewer, in relation to the scene and time of the shot.
The World Skin:
For each shot, the corresponding surface (divided into silhouette fragments) is removed from the virtual databases. It looks like a white projection made the set pixels disappear, covered by the camera field. The white fragments constitute a rectangle (the frame), only from the exact point of view of the shot. In other words, the perspective takes over again and we can discover the white surface fragments vanishing into the set depth.
After the session, the visitor exits the CAVE and finds a printer and a screen presenting the website, where the last shots are sent in real time. He can leave the place with a printed copy of the shots.