I'm Bob

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Contents

Movie Clip

I'm Bob (2 min. Short ver.)

I'm Bob (5 min. Long ver.)

Outline

I’M BOB (2009) is Mideum Shin's thesis project for his MFA degree. This is a physical interactive installation project using a periscope-looking interface and the form of comics combined with the structure of heroes’ stories. Bob is the name of the main characters and also the name of the interface.
 This comes from the verb, bob, which represents the characteristic movement of the interface, and also a palindrome depicting the audience’s freedom of interaction with the interface.

Period

2009 in Risd Digital+Media Master Program

Medium

A Macbook pro pc 2007 with SMS
An Arduino platform with Compass Sensor
A Processing Programming Language
A 15 foot wide, 10 foot long and 10 foot high exhibition room
A white colored freely moving robot interface

Goal

Our lives can be treated as some kind of journey, extending our consciousness from a state of total ignorance to a state of what we’ve experienced until the end of our lives. If one person’s consciousness remains the status of small and narrow, his or her life will be unsatisfying not only for him/herself but also for his/her acquaintances. I have seen many examples of those tragic moments from the small cases of friends and families to the large cases of societies and nations. So, I want to provide the audience the opportunity to surprise them with the extension of their consciousness. I focused on the process of immersion because of its powerful effect in evoking indirect experiences, thus I made a system that allows viewers to become other characters expressed in the comic form.

Methodology

Space

My exhibition room is a 15 foot wide, 10 foot long and 10 foot high bright hexahedron without a ceiling. There are two entrances (Fig. 18) in each side of the longer wall diagonally. These two diagonal entrances represent the equal possibility of meeting experiences in our lives. The area of each of the surrounding 8 walls is 5 feet wide and 10 feet high, and they are filled with eight comic drawings (Fig. 19) printed on heavy sticker paper made by the Illustrator program. They are using the polyptych tool and the word balloons of the comic system. All 8 wall drawings have four word balloons, and inside each of them the audience can see one red cross which functions as a target. Those comic images have objective and simple forms made by straight lines and minimal expression. The story of the comic is very short and has a looping pattern. The small sized, white color Bob is starting its journey and after half of the comic it meets another giant gray color Bob. The grey color Bob continues its journey, and finally it meets the first small size Bob as a giant size again. This means that those Bobs were actually all one and they already were both the small and the giant one. This comic represents the core part of a hero’s journey in Campbell’s book. At the center of the room, there is a periscope-looking interface. The audience can freely enter using any entrance and navigate the space.

Inside of the interface, there are three 3D models of virtual spaces, virtual rooms. All of them are mapped by three sets of 6 drawings which will be mapped by each of 6 surfaces of the virtual room. The first set (Fig. 20) is the exact same images of the actual room. Next, two sets of drawings show the main character, Bob’s, perspective. These two perspective drawings are very different from the actual room’s objective drawings. The second set (Fig. 21) is the perspective view of the giant Bob, and when you look down you can see the small Bob. And the third set (Fig. 22) is about the small Bob. If you look up to the sky, you will see the giant Bob. They are drawn by pencil and have many details expressively. I intentionally made this gap between two styles of drawings to represent the difference between objective views and subjective views.


Interface

The interface named Bob has a white colored, robot-looking apparatus. It has a head part and a body part. The head part has two black colored pipe eyes functioning as eyepieces for the audience and two cylindrical bar looking black colored ears functioning as handles for the audience. Inside of this head part is an Apple 15 inch MacBook Pro which has built-in accelerometer sensors, SMS (Sudden Motion Sensor), providing data of panning and the tilting degree of the head part. Through eyepieces, the audience can see the MacBook Pro monitor and the 3D models. Accelerometer data are all related to gravity, so I can use those data for my project for to calculate the degree of panning and tilting of the 3D models. Instead of monitoring camera input data as in my previous works based on marker based augmented reality technology, I changed my idea to monitoring the interface’s movement and apply that data oppositely for the 3D models. Because the marker based augmented reality technology has limitations, we should see the whole part of the markers all the time. Now the audience can see 3d models regardless of markers. However, because the direction, or degree of rotation, is not related to gravity, I should use one extra compass sensor for that data. An Arduino microcontroller is used for that process. That compass sensor needs a horizontal location to provide accurate data, so I placed it under the head part. It also has five ventilation holes for cooling down the inner temperature.

The body part has one hole for the power wire passageway. Inside of the body part, there is a 25kg sand bag for the stable locating of the interface. Both the head part and the body part are connected to each other using a lazy susan, which is a rotating tray for free panning movement, and four strong springs for free tilting movement. Through the axis of the apparatus, a power wire for the MacBook Pro is passing and connected to the power source.

The audience can intuitively interact with this interface using their body movement. They can see wherever they want to see, the up side, the down side and a 360 degree rotating scene. This direct interaction creates the immersion process of the audience with the work. However there is one restriction which is the fixed location of the interface. The audience can see everywhere from only one spot. This relinquished freedom will provide the audience more of an illusion of control of the interface as I discussed in chapter two.


Interaction

The audience can freely change their points of view through the interface, Bob. The interface provides the audience the free panning movement from 0 degrees to 360 degrees and also the free tilting from 90 degrees to -90 degrees. On the center of the screen, there is the same shape of the red cross which was located in the word balloons. It functions as a line of sight.

At the first stage, the audience will see the exactly copied images of the room’s wall drawings, the first set of virtual images, inside of the interface. The audience can also hear music, Bolero, which has a looping process and a volume changing process of smallest to largest for the progress of the music. Bolero keeps playing whenever the audience goes back to the first stage. This music represents the process of the project, looping and changing scales. When the audience’s point of view, the red cross as a line of sight, passes the four corners of the room, the audience can hear the voice of Bob saying, “Look at the cross.” This process represents the journey of the character, Bob. By moving our bodies, we are becoming immersed in the journey of Bob. And when the point of view is closing each of the character drawings, the image zooms in and the audience can see those characters in a bigger version.

When the red color line of sight and one of the four red targets in word balloons are matched, a change of perspectives happens. The audience can see one small or giant Bob’s point of view without the music playing. I created this interaction to provide the audience a more realistic feeling of being Bobs, or being others. This process is the first tenor part of this project. By moving our bodies and trying to match crosses, we start our own journey with Bob. And when we succeed in that process, we can see other existences’ points of view, perspectives with a lot of details and expressions. This is the step of departure in Campbell’s Hero’s journey. Only after meeting other existences can we see the differences between ourselves and them. This will be the starting point of the process of the extension of consciousness.

Image:inter3.jpg

Inside of Bob’s perspective views, audiences can navigate all landscapes. They can look up to the sky, look down at their feet and also look at the backside. Depending on which Bob’s perspective is being used, whole landscapes will be shown as changing. In the case of giant Bob, the second set of subjective drawings, the audience can see broad fields with many forests, a cliff and a lake. And whenever the audience looks down, he/she can hear the voice of small Bob which has looked up below your feet. It asks, “Who are you?” In the case of small Bob, the third set of subjective drawings, the audience can see little flat fields. However, there is always a huge shadow. When the audience looks up at the sky, he/she can see the gigantic size of Bob’s back. Whenever the audience looks up, that Bob says to him/her, “I’m Bob.” And when the audience looks at the Bob, then he/she will finally find the sparkling red cross, the target, and also the gateway to the room, the first stage.

In this part, the second tenor part of this project, I made exits from these perspective stages to the objective stage, the room. The first exit is after Bob finds the sparkling red cross and matches them. The second exit is rotating 360 degrees without matching crosses. This process represents the initiation process of a hero’s journey and the possibilities of success and failure. Some of the audience members will find Bob and match their crosses and some of them won’t. Even though all of us meet others and experience others in the real world, some of us can initiate ourselves to extend our consciousnesses and some of us can’t. Those two options of getting out of the perspective views represent this. However, the audience can try one more time or even many more times. When the audience is back to the objective view, he/she can reenter any of the other perspective views without any restriction. I think that initiation’s success or failure depends on the audience and their minds. I, as an artist, can only provide the audience the passage and suggest that there is a way. The decision is the audience’s part.

Image:inter5.jpg

There is one more step left, returning. I left that part for the audience. Some of them will find that the smallest Bob has existed in the actual wall drawing as part of a looping process. When the audience member finishes his/her journey of being Bob with the interface and lets go of the handle, their own return to reality has already began.

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