post MIT Media Lab

February 27th, 2008

We caught the train up to Boston and now our home is in the lovely and dull holiday inn, Beacon Hill. Pablo has caught my flu, so we have been up all night with him. found myself walking the pram through the corridors of the Holiday inn last night in my pyjamas. I am exhausted. Matt went to the pharmacy to get some medication for his flu. He took the lightest one that was available and was knocked out. Scary stuff. We have been filled up with bad fast food and I am already missing access to a kitchen and some fresh food.


matt and pablo hanging out at the holiday inn.


pablo getting ready to face the cold

So, feeling a little bit thick in the head today _ I had my first meeting at the MIT media lab. Last year in London I met with Rosalind Picard, head of Affective computing. She was talking at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. She invited me to be visiting artist at the MediaLab. Also, Over the last couple of years, I began discussing ideas with Rana El Kaliouby, one of Picards senior research fellows, which lead to my current project, CHAMELEON. The Media Lab seems like a chaotic, creative, busy congested and inspirational place. All groups seems to be together on the 4th floor – prototypes, computers, displays, mock ups are scattered over desks, floors, ceilings. A lot of good thoughts go on there.

I Met with Roz and Rana today. Rana is developing real time facial recognition software and is a key partner in the CHAMELEON project. She began this investigation through out her phd at Cambridge. She worked with Alexa Write and Alf Linney on the “Alter Ego” project in 2003. She has since further discerned the software, and is now interested in its uses with people with autism disorder.


Had a look at how the technology is working – was great to see it. Is quite subtle. This aim of this project is to push the technologies uses – more naturalistic interaction and spontaneous movement, working in darker lighting, working with multi-participants. She whowed me a galvanic skin conductance sensor they are developing – wireless version – could be great for Feel Series. We talked about methodologies, common language, visual ideas, timelines, and how we see ourselves working together over the next few years. Rana is actually based in Cairo, but flies into MIT once a month. We talked about how to build the stages of the project. What are the best tools to build at this stage? What are the best areas to focus on?

At the moment we have the project working with no interaction. The next stage is integration. We need to get the non interaction version, (which is simulated emotions built on a mac using max MSP) working with her software which will shoot out information every 5 seconds or so to Max MSP. I have bought another laptop, which I will run as a PC and will get it speaking to each other. So stage 2, working with Max MSP or C++. These choices have to be made pretty soon. We talked about the possibilities of hiring an undergraduate to work on the project over summer.

I am meeting up with more of the group tonight for dinner. Will be interesting to see what everyone is working on. I will be giving a talk on Friday.



post Its a blizzard out there

February 23rd, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT,interesting art,interesting people — Tina @ 2:17 am

Its morning, and the snow has hit us. Looking out the window to whiteness and the skyline of Manhattan has disappeared.

central park

snow turning into slush

Its been a busy few days. Yesterday we spent hours at the Moma. We then moved on to a lot of art openings in Chelsea. Caught up with Lorie Novak for dinner – a photographer, chair of NYU photography. She has an amazing place in dumbo with the most incredible view. We did a residency years ago at Sway, a little country town in the UK – ArtSway. They have a great international residency at Artsway –

The days have been filled with meeting people and the nights are filled with lots of openings. I have come down with a a very embodied flu, and hopefully it doesn’t spread across the family. Tonight we are catching up with Virgil Wong, a great artist working in genetics/internet/medicine/science. Virgil involved me in is exhibitions over the years.

post Stanislavsky technique

February 23rd, 2008

how do you embody an emotion when a camera is pointing directly at you? – with out artifice, feeling it is real. I have tried a few techniques – shooting over extremely long sessions, shooting after extreme exhaustion and also working with clinical hypnotist – psychologist David Oakley with Hypnosis. The visuals for this piece will most likely use actors, acting out different emotional states.

I have started talking to Caravanserai –

Filip Aiello, producer for the Caravanserai Acting Studio contacted sarah Blakemore’s research group at the institute of cognitive neuroscience. They are starting a production about the human brain and how it functions in regard to emotions and instinct. They wanted to make contact with some neuroscientists – talk about mirror neurons, etc. e sre going to meet in London to discuss if the group should be involved with the project – looking at method acting – the stanislavsky technique.

post BBC interview on BBC radio

February 22nd, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT,interesting opportunities — Tina @ 12:11 am

Harry Witchell, sent through the BBC interview with Jumoke-fashola on BBC london radio. They discuss aspects of emotional contagion, the scientific basis for it.

post catching up

February 21st, 2008

Spending the morning chasing up a lot of links hugo has sent through. Interesting Australian/US company – Emotiv. need to chase up. Would be fantastic for the FEEL SERIES. They seem to be doing beta testing in San Fran. Would be good to go there. And also meet Kathelin and Paul Ekman. possibility.

Getting some words over to Darren Tofts for the Artlink article. Organising talks for next week at the MIT media lab. Looks like I will be talking to the Affective computing Group on Friday. Finished off some words for the IAMAS catalogue for past artist in residents. Trying to organise accommodation in Boston. All seems outrageously expensive. Trying to organise timelines for the Banff Residency. I hope they can provide what I need. Starting to write up a response to Silvia’s questions for the digimag article.

1- how did you arrive to your interest in emotions and their physiological components?
2 – in which ways your works trascend conventional models of interactivity?
3 – I would like to stop a bit on terms like: interface (embodied and transparent); “empathetic envoronments” and awareness. can you define their roe in your work and their meaning?
4 – which kind of relationship can start between an artist and a phycologist and a neuroscientist? who do you work togheter?
5 – can you summarize the results you reached through Feel_trace/inside/insula/perspire, in terms of aestethic and content?
6 – would you like to give me some anticipations around Chamaleon?

Trying to work out how to get equipment support for Apple. its difficult. Bought another laptop. My photoshop is not working with the leopard upgrade. not good. either is final cut pro. Can’t find the battery for my hd camera. need to get a new one before banff.

Also trying to work out how we should approach the next Synapse round. Christian Jones, who is director of a company called affective media – who do interesting work in the area of emotions, speech, interaction and mobile technology, want to propose an arc/synapse. Been in touch with he Research group at Nokia, Tampere – we will meet in April. It would be great to get some sort of interest in the potential Synapse project. Due date for the arts council is a couple of weeks. Need australian partnership, but nothing yet has revealed itself.

I feel like my head is going too fast. Trying to fit too much in – trying to get this project happening. Need to start some visual work as I am getting a bit tired of writing.

post new york city

February 21st, 2008

Been a few huge days in NYC. We have a little apartment up on the upper west side. We are on the twelfth floor and the view over the Manhattan skyline is amazing. Near the museum of Natural history, Central park. The artists, Bobby Previte and Andrea Kleine who own it, are doing a Mcdowell Colony residency upstate. Our days and nights have been long. Pablo’s is jetlagged – we have been up a few times a night, as he is still on London timings.

early morning, NYC

Caught up with artist Justine Cooper out at Brooklyn the other day. Was great to meet with her. She has son, two years now. Talked about work, working with a baby, etc. Her work seems to be going well. I just think she is more efficient with time. Great artist. Yesterday I met briefly with Barbara London, video curator at MOMA. Left her with a couple of DVD’s. We then made our way to Eyebeam and met with Amanda Mcdonald Crowley. fantastic space, seems like there is a lot of interesting stuff going on. vibrant. experimental. They have an open lab – all open source – creative commons – sharing. Rapid prototyping machine and a bit of gear to make a few things. Met with Zach Lieberman, one of the fellows there. Working on a range of tools so that other artists can create work. Great project, and amazing talent. Walked through the production space. Met with a few of the residents. They take about ten fellows a year. Very interesting center. Lots like an inspirational place to create work. Would be great to get involved with it. Seems the fellow program is a lot more open, experimental and not project driven.

We did all the Chelsea galleries – the shirin nishat at the barbara gladstone gallery was beautiful as always. The Mary Boone had a Luis Gispert exhibition – looked like the film was shot on 70 mm. beautifully produced and pretty dark – about a child’s
nightmares/coming of age. Quite surreal.


chelsea, yesterday

Ended up at that diner on 10th Avenue and ran into artist Elio Caccavale who had some working opening last night at the Design and the Elastic Mind exhibition at the Moma. We went to the opening last night. Was a great night – packed. Pablo was definitley the youngest guest there. Met a few artist, actors, and all sorts. We were about to head down to the after party near the bowery but better judgement held out. The early starts with Pablo had to be prepared for. I met elio years ago at a conference in Oxford we both talked at called Tomorrows People. Elio has offered to our us through the MOMA exhibition today before it opens to the public.


last night , MOMA


central park on Monday – 12 degrees. was lovely


pablo getting ready for a big day out

post Artlink

February 16th, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT,interesting opportunities — Tina @ 6:12 pm

contacted by Artlink to do a peice about the project – Contacted Darren Tofts to write it up. Short deadline – needs to be done by 28th. Darren wants to do it – so thats fantastic. IAMAS contacted me as they are creating a catalogue on pasts residents. IAMAS was long enough ago that I can now reflect on the experience and work out what I got from that time. Need to write something up.

post Getting ready to leave

February 16th, 2008

Little pablo has settled into the timezone well – now he tends to sleep for between 8 to 12 hours a night. Tomorrow we will destory it all – We leave tomorrow for NYC for a week. We have an apartment in the upper west side. We then move onto Boston for a week then over to Banff for a month, Back to Boston and then early April we are back in London. Have to pack today – think about all equipment neeeded for Banff. Enough clothes for us all, with out being too loaded with too much luggage.

Met with Sabine at Arts Council England London yesterday to discuss the project. She suggested I put in a small grant – we talked about other funding strategies something about elephant trust, AHRC, etc. She talked about Arts Admin and making contact with them. She suggested putting in an application over the next couple fo weeks and she wil look at the draft.

We all went to the British Library yesterday – great exhibition on about the avante garde through out Europe – shows many of the manifestos and artists books of the time. Its called Breaking the Rules. Fantastic. We then toured through their collection which is always fascinating.

post UCLH Hospital

February 15th, 2008

Met with Guy Noble, the curator at UCLH hospital. We have been in touch over the last few years – Met a couple of years ago at of a series of workshops entitled Touch and the value of object handling – New technologies for enhancing object interpretation: interactives, haptics and interface technologies organised by Helen Chatterjee and Guy. last year he shortlisted me for a commission – in the foyer of the hospital there is a large video screen that they show work on. I mentioned the Chameleon Project – the first stage. Would suit the space, and the health/art area is interesting for the project. He agreed – booked in for May. Great to have something to work towards.

Discussed Haptics. He suggested I talk to Alan Wing / research team member, Behavioural Brain Sciences Centre, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham – am interesting in creating a small touch based interactive peice to work out if we should make touch part of the final work. I think I met get Evan to start working on something, but also they may be a few people to work with at Banff.

Went to the Wellcome Trust gallery – It combines three contemporary galleries, a library and a public forum for science ideas. – Sleep exhibition on. Wellcome have funded Chameleon. Nice space. Great exhibition. Need to make an appointment with James Peto – the curator their about potentailly exhibiting the work.


‘I Can’t help the way I feel’ by John Isaacs, 2003 – an obese figure – more of an emotional portrait.


ancient mummy – wellcome collection, reminds me of Munch’s the scream.

Headed on to the Royal Academy to see the new Russion show. Heaps of Mattises, Kandinsky’s, – the exhibtion was packed – too busy to see the work – but was amazing to see the Mattises – The Dance. interesting – expressionism link to psychophysiological interactivity – both looked to the internal to create the work. Would like to research more about this,

We then headed over to Sketch, was closed for a function. Have been talking to the curator there, Victoria, about showing the project. Shes interested but so far have only tlaked over email. Fantastic space. Headed over to Iniva to see the cuban exhibition – great space and exhibition. Saw some really lovely work.

post Emotional Contagion at the Dana Center, Science Museum

February 15th, 2008

Dana Event over – went well – was sold out. Was frustrating as I had Matt and Pablo there (I wanted Pablo to be part of the experiment, and they wouldn’t let him in because he was underage and alcohol was being served..). Poor Matt. I had primed him to document the evening with video and cameras and he ended up sitting upstairs with Pablo, not taking part in the evening.

A lot of interest from media. I started with just showing the current version of the prototype. Its pretty simple, needs more work, but it has a nice energy about it. Need to reshoot database.


Chameleon Stage one (still of projected images – interaction using emotional algorithms)

I gave a ten minute talk, about past work, why I am here, what lead to project, where the project is at, where the project is going. Neil talked about emotional contagion, studies in empathy and mimicry, the biological mechanisms. Harry then talked for ten minutes – in an engaging, involving way – In his talk, he talked a lot about big brother (he was the medical advice on “On the Couch with Big Brother” – also a lot about how to pick deceit and lying. How to pick up on the micro expressions. All tlaks were engaging, talked about emotional contagion, social cognition from different view points. Good mix.


Harry Witchell, Neil Harrison (with the yellow badges on)


After the talks we then set up the live experiment which was pretty simple. We had two cameras facing each two members of the audience facing each other. We split the group with members who knew each other and members who didn’t. Evan Raskob was upstairs controlling the event –setting it up, making sure it all worked. Evan also directed the conversation – some were to talk about their mother, some were to talk about the weather. It would have been nice to read more into the imagery – I think its sort of about the pacing – two people didn’t really tell us enough about emotional contagion. I need to make a decision on whether we create a piece that I originally wanted to – working with six web cams – slowing down – out put to video. It’s a lot more investment of time and also buying cameras, cables, hubs, etc.



Evan Raskob

Interestingly, I found what was happening upstairs was much morei nteresting than downstairs. The set up.. the awkward nature of it, people desperately trying to make polite conversation. If we did it again, I would get a few stooges in there – to either entice them, or to act bored, or what ever. It would be good to show the piece again. Maybe in Banff.



It was a good beginning. Harry Witchell was great –talking about how people synchronised, how people didn’t – who was driving the conversations. Who was following. Were they interested? The subtle bits of body language. It didn’t really talk too muh about micro expressions, but probably has much to do with the quality of the image – to keep the stress off the computer, we had to make it pretty low resolution.

Helen from SCAN cancelled at the last minute – she was going to speak about science and art collaborations, etc. Was disappointing that she wasn’t there as I was the only one from the collaborative group present. Hugo is having a baby, Chris is in Denmark, Rana in Egypt. But we pulled it off, and finished the night saying that we will be back next season to show the next stage of the prototype. I will start organising timings as it would be great if everyone was close by this time.

There seemed to be great interesting in the idea of emotional contagion. A lot of questions. I talked to quite a few psychologists, psychiatrists, neuroscientists in the audience. Apparently it was in the Metro which is ashame, because I missed it. Now have to chase it up. Will ring them today.

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