John Choi

29 Jan 2015

The Stranger, by Brain Fox (2013)

The Stranger is an immersive interactive installation that whispers louder and louder as the user moves closer to it.  Basically, the user inputs his name on a smartphone or tablet and the installation begins to visually “gossip” to itself everything it can find out about the user from publicly available information located in sites such as Twitter and Facebook.  While the whispers are prerecorded, the information displayed around the installation are gleaned in real time.  This is supposed to alert the user into finding out exactly how much is known about him or her from just his or her online presence.  I think this project really hearkens back to the magic mirror in the fairy tale Snow White.  Like the magic mirror, the Stranger seems to know about everything about everyone, almost to a level that makes it creepy.  The Stranger also looks like the white face in the magic mirror.  Frankly, I don’t think the face belongs in a project like this.  The wispy environment of texts and whispers seem to be more fit for a purely atmospheric experience.  The human entity makes the user think that he or she could interact with it and speak to it, even though it is just for appearance and does not really react in any other way than just looking at the user.

The Digital Flesh, by the Creators Project (2011)

If I were to describe this project as close as I could in just 13 words, I would say this:  Creepy growing ball of mushy faces mashed up like wads of chewing gum.  Seriously though, if this project was trying to strike a feeling of awe, wonder and disgust all at the same time, it nails it perfectly.  With beautifully warped visuals ripped straight from the trench of the Uncanny Valley, I don’t think this project could have achieved a better balance of interactivity and graphics if it tried.  It really reminds me of Zach Rispoli’s final project in EMS II last semester, really picking up on the theme of deformed faces on globby balls.  I imagine it captures faces from somewhere and processes them with the users being blissfully unaware.  I wonder how much more creepy the ball would look if it also captured other body parts like hands, arms and legs and globbed them onto the ball as well?  On second thought, I actually don’t want to know the answer to that question.