post exhibition at the ICA

April 28th, 2008

All of the sudden it seems, we are preparing for an exhibition at the ICA, London – opening may 6th. The promo material needs to be written by midday – the work needs to be finalised. I have a big day with Evan Raskob, the programmer/interactive designer working on Chameleon to try and make the most of the prototypes we are exhibiting. Last we week we sat down with Chris Frith, the social neuroscientist on the project, and tried to flesh out the emotional algorithms. Its working better, but I feel there is still an issue with pacing/dynamic and also the aesthetic of the work. Hopefully by 5pm today – we will both be happy.

We are showing two version –  each effects each others emotional states. As each figure emits each emotional state, a live scour of the internet (live chat rooms) searching for statements that relate to the emotion they are feeling. It then transposes the text from live chat site to contextualise the emotional state. For example, if the figure feels sad, the project displays a sad portrait while at the same time transposing live text of someone writing about sadness in internet chat rooms. The conversation is always on the threshold of making sense.

We are using the API of We are looking to a database of   a “live” snapshot of the last 1500 or so feelings from – there are over 5000 different relating to a range of emotions – they are sourced from live chat rooms , etc. We are transposing these ‘thoughts’ on the faces.  Its quite an intriguing story that reveals and a quite like the way we are desperately searching for meaning all the time.

The other prototype looks at emotional contagion in groups. The emotion of the group is constantly shifting, but occasionally through group cohesively comes together in bouts of happiness,etc. Evan is writing a code that you can text and emotion to the group, which effects the social dynamic of the group. Quite nice for the social space it is being exhibited in. Anyway, we shall see how it all pans out today. Hopefully I will get two full days with evan this week, as I am feeling a bit apprehensive about it all.




post mind control / mind reading/ predicting behaviour/ dumbing down/brainwashing

April 12th, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT — Tina @ 7:54 pm

the ethical issues/implications arising from the new conditions of interaction that come with the integration of intelligent bio sensitive technology: –

questioning and experimenting with new models and forms that propose social and political change? the power of new/old technologies to influence. The project needs to both embraces and critique biotechnology; what are the contradictions and complexities that these technologies offer the future of humanity? there is a lot of fear around the technologies, the future directions.

issues of control – controlling the invisible/mapping the invisible.

from :

Epileptic Seizures and Pokemon
["Pokemon Contagion: Photosensitive Epilepsy or Mass Psychogenic Illness?"] discusses the event on December 16, 1997 in which hundreds of Japanese children watching a popular anime called Pokemon suffered epileptic seizures and were taken to the hospital. When news stations broadcasted excerpts from the Pokemon episode, the same phenomenon was triggered again in which more children fell ill. It was thought that these children suffered from photosensitive epilepsy which is epilepsy caused by sensitivity to flashing lights. The authors of the paper below suggests that while photosensitive epilepsy did occur in some cases, mass media also played a role in inducing the epileptic seizures by means of “epidemic hysteria.” (the Pokemon segment is included in the Files section of this group)

Derren Brown whose website reveals that he can seemingly predict and control human behaviour. He doesn’t claim to be a mind-reader, instead he describes his craft as a mixture of magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship. Brown “primes” his audience members using subtle clues to respond in predetermined ways. The effect is dramatic.

Mind Control game that primes players based on their personality. Conformists will end up visualizing one image (eg, an elephant in Denmark) while nonconformists will see another (eg, an emu in Dubai).

A classic example is that brief images of popcorn and Coke shown on the screen during a drive-in theater movie increased sales of said products by 57.8 percent and 18.1 percent respectively, according to Wikipedia. Using certain images and sounds to subconciously affect viewers’ purchasing habits is a powerful tool available to the media giants. While businesses vehemently deny using covert and possibly illegal methods of product presentation, observers have claimed it common practice and appearing in numerous adverts.

certain sounds elicit physiological changes such as rapid heart rate, and specific colors and images alter aggression levels. The mere act of seeing a picture of a handgun, for example on warning signs attached to high school entryways, is proven to increase violent tendencies in people.

British news agencies reported in January 2005 of a $7.5 million 1994 US Military project to develop a “love bomb” that would make enemy troops sexually attractive to each other. Included were ideas for an “attack me” bomb to attract swarms of wasps or rats as well as a long-desired “Who? Me?” bomb that would produce a noxious odor. A substance to make the skin unbearably sensitive to sunlight was also pondered, reports BBC News.

Of all the technologies available for Mind Control, brain implants may be the most invasive. While there is little physical evidence of their diabolical use on the general population, studies have shown the technology to be very effective at controlling behavior. In 1965 the New York Times reported that Jose Delgado stopped a charging bull with radio controlled implants. Delgado was able to “play” monkeys and cats like “little electronic toys” that yawn, hide, fight, play, mate and go to sleep on command.

Other brain implant studies have shown that animals having the ability to self-stimulate their brain’s pleasure centers will starve to death rather than take time to eat.

“Thought reform” is the Orwellian vision in which people are programmed to think alike for the prosperity of the State. Unbeknownst to Orwell, China was subjecting students to this “reeducation” process to adopt Communism.

She listed methods of “thought reform” to include controlling a person’s time and environment, leaving no time for thought; creating a sense of powerlessness, fear and dependency; manipulating rewards and punishments to suppress former social behaviour; manipulating rewards and punishments to elicit the desired behaviour; creating a closed system of logic which makes dissenters feel as if something was wrong with them; and keeping recruits unaware about any agenda to control or change them

One means of bringing about thought reform is by “dumbing down” the population so it has less experience from which to draw. Throughout the 1980s and into the mid-1990s, the reading level of textbooks…dropped by two grade levels. That is, what used to be third-grade material is now fifth-grade material, writes Nancy Montgomery in her 1996 article “Dumbed-down texts too easy, too simple, too boring, critics say” for The Seattle Times.

Jim Keith writes in Mass Control: Engineering Human Consciousness that since the advent of “progressive education” schools have not been intended to educate, but simply to regiment. Today’s schools are producing young adults primed to follow orders rather than think critically. According to Alvin Toffler in his landmark 1970 book Future Shock, nothing could be better calculated to produce people uncertain of their goals, people incapable of effective decision-making under conditions of overchoice.

Since at least the mid-1970s, perps have had the ability to beam sound with laser-like precision at the TIs they stalk. The US Army reports on its website that the pulse-modulated microwave radiation from voice to skull devices may be voice or audio subliminal messages. Wikipedia reports of studies in the United States and Soviet Union that found extremely low frequencies, when transmitted in pulse mode, could induce emotions in subjects. Today’s HyperSonic Sound uses ultrasonic frequencies instead of microwaves, but the voice to skull experiences are subjectively the same.

In the 1950s, the search for a “truth serum” was a top US priority. The CIA tested a combination of LSD and Sodium Pentathol. Today, large doses of Ritalin and Sodium Pentathol are used in narcoanalysis. (Ritalin is used to counteract the powerful sedative hypnotic effects of the Sodium Pentathol.) During this drug-induced state, the subject becomes highly relaxed, easily suggestible, and more freely shares information.

The tactics used to create undue psychological and social influence, often by means involving anxiety and stress, fall into seven main categories.

TACTIC 1. Increase suggestibility and “soften up” the individual through specific hypnotic or other suggestibility-increasing techniques such as:E

post UCLH hospital

April 10th, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT — Tina @ 8:07 pm

organising an exhibition of one of the projects at the foyer of UCLH hospital.

post Digimag release

April 10th, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT — Tina @ 7:59 pm

Dear Tina,

I am glad to inform you our interview has been published in the new Digimag
See at

I will keep you updated on elgiush release.

Thank you very much again for your collaboration.

All the Best,

post prototype testing at the ICA, London/UCLH London

April 10th, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT — Tina @ 7:49 pm

Currently working out the dates for the next exhibition of the work at the ICA in London. I want to make it on the 16th May, when Rosalind Picard and Rana El Kaliouby are in London. Ros and Rana are developing the real time emotion technology that we are using the Chameleon Project. It will provides a great opportunity to get feedback on the work, and also for everyone to meet each other. Organising the specs and what is possible at the moment

post Back in London

April 10th, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT — Tina @ 7:42 pm

Back in London – great to be here. As part of the Synapse residency from the Australian network for art and technology, I am artist in resident at the Wellcome Department of Neuroimaging at Queens Square at UCL, working with neuroscientist Chris Frith. We are trying to work out the emotional algorithms for emotional contagion. Chris is currently in Denmark, but is back on the 24th April. I am organising to meet with him and Evan Raskob, the programmer I am working with.

I am also artist in resident at BSMS, working with neuroscientist Hugo Critchley. We are organising to travel back down to Brighton.

Am getting settled – Chris Frith,

post The 5th berlin biennial for contemporary art

April 9th, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT — Tina @ 7:28 pm

We have been in Berlin for the last five days – attending the Biennial.

Curators Adam Szymczyk, director of the Kunsthalle Basel, and Elena Filipovic, an independent art critic and curator, divided the exhibition into halves, which they call “Day” and “Night.” The core venues for the 5th Berlin Biennial: the KW Institute and the Mies van der Rohe’s Neue Nationalgalerie.

I went to the last biennial – was fantastic. This one, felt sort of dull. I couldn’t quite grasp it: and nothing grasped me. I guess I should have bought the catalogue for 25 euros to understand it all a bit more. There is nothing that really stands out that i would want to write about.

post Meeting with Evan Raskob

April 4th, 2008

We were stuck in jetlag land last night. Pablo finally slept about 2am and then we were awake till six am. Woke up for an 11am meeting with Evan Raskob, the programmer working on the Chameleon Project.

We worked through some of the algorithms, but really we need to sit down with Chris Frith, the social neuroscientist working on the project. We looked at the piece that explores the propagation of emotions. We slowed it down, played with scale and paced the propagation with it so we could see what was going on. Its a really complex set of probabilities that is hard to understand, Especially in the midst of jetlag. Its looking much better than the first version, but its pretty essential to sit down with both Chris and Evan for a few hours so we all make sure we are understanding each other.


We discussed what was next. We need to try a version of the propagation piece that only captures the facial expression and not upper body. We need to experiment with how it looks spatially – can it work in a row? A cross? What is the best way for it to work? Can the figures just be facing each other, as if in dialogue?

We need to get the version of the two heads facing each other working in Processing.




We also need to work with the two faces one and investigate ways of scouring the web to find appropriate text to transpose onto the work. We will try to the api of – the api , for example .

Returned XML samples:

The API is free under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Sharealike license ( ).

Sites that use this API must provide attribution by including the following html on their site:

Powered by: We Feel Fine.

Finally, we discussed the integration of touch. Evan mentioned some one who is pretty switched on with dealing with haptics. It would be great to meet him next week.

post Reflection on MIT and BMNI residencies.

April 3rd, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT — Tina @ 1:39 am

We are back in London, here to restart the Synapse Residency at the Wellcome Department of Neurology to work with social neuroscientist Chris Frith and also to work with emotion neuroscientist Hugo Critchley at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School. Together, we are working on a video installation project that explores emotional contagion. London is a touch greener than when we left. A touch warmer.

I have been away from London for over six weeks. I am travelling with my partner, Matthew and my young son, Pablo. When we left London, we flew to NYC for a week, meeting with MOMA and Eyebeam and a few other friends. We then trained it to Boston to work with the affective computing group at MIT Medialab. We then headed to Banff New Media Institute (BMNI) for a month for the Liminal Screen Residency where I spent a lot of time in the studio shooting new footage for the project. We then headed back to MIT, and now we are back in London.

It was a great time away. The project has grown incredibly. It makes a lot more sense to me than it did six weeks ago – just how the technology will actually work, how to build the project. I can see how the collaboration is beginning to work (and not work). The first visual directions are being explored, and I like where its at right now. Its already grown in ways that I hadn’t anticipated. When in the studio at Banff, I shot using 3 cameras, which I wasn’t expecting to do, but it was an important choice, both to create engagement and dynamic with the interaction. Also, while directing the participants to act out the emotions in front of the camera, some were more comfortable talking about their emotions. I asked them to talk in a way that they were addressing the camera as ‘the other’ that they had an emotional issue with. This was great, as I find the narratives and the intertwined stories quite compelling. Also, it automatically implicates the audience into the emotional drama. This is important, as it brings engagement – essential for people to WANT to be bothered to interact with the work. Over the month at BMNI we worked through a few interactive prototypes both using Max MSP and Processing, and slowly its revealing itself to be quite engaging. There is a lot more work, but its a great beginning. The time spent working in Banff was fantastic, and I walked away with better footage than i imagined.

I am trying to organise to come back to Banff for another residency to work through the visual side of the project again. This time, I would like to take a few of the collaborators as well so we can spend some intensive time together working on ideas. The beauty of Banff itself is a great drawcard to getting them there. During this residency – at times it felt a bit isolating, working through these ideas with out being able to discuss them through with the other collaborators. Also, it would be great to be able to work through the interactive elements more intensely and also have space to test them while everyone is there to make sure we are all on the same page.

The Liminal Screen residency was my six or seventh visit to Banff. I always walk away from the Banff residencies thinking what a great place it is too produce work. To be there with the other artists, embedded into a themed residency was really beneficial. The quality of the artists was high, and a lot were searching for more critical discussions. It is important to go back. Banff are positive about it and trying to organise timings at the moment.

My visits to the MIT media lab was too quick to really understand what is going on, to have any presence, to have the time to meet with all the people I would have liked to. My role at the MIT Media Lab with the Affective Computing Group is ‘visiting artist’, which is a great opportunity – both to collaborate on projects, and to get a sense how such an institution works. In the future, I will go back for atleast a month to six weeks, maybe in the fall. It would be great to be there for sponsor week again, but this time to present the project. In the future, I will try and stay away from such short visits. Originally I thought the short trips could work, but realistically, you need time to work out how the place works and what your role is. Also, Ros Picard, who runs the Affective Computing Group is an amazing woman, with a great critical mind. I would like more time with her to discuss research and writing. I would learn a lot.

post mit media lab – sponsor week

April 3rd, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT — Tina @ 12:53 am

Its been a busy day – technological overload. Its an interesting place. The sponsors all seem pretty chuffed with what is going on here. Everyone is pretty excited. The fellows and undergrads are madly talking about their ideas. There is a lot of research, some works really great, and well thought through. A lot missing some sort of aesthetic realization and conceptual rigor. Some of the works seem pretty irrelevant, a sort of technological nightmare. I enjoy Picard’s research group with the emphasis on studying the social side of autism.

Jackie Lee’s shy robot. A the moment it is responding to galvanic skin response – Jackie says it makes explicit the actions of shyness. A lot of autistic kids are very shy.


An ecological camera – senses the environment (seems to be pullution, rather than a visual capture of it. Would be nice to integrate the two.



this interestingly looks really a lot like the first rough of the propagation of emotions prototype I am working on now. At the moment they just seem to be looking at each other. But need to research more into it.

We are heading to the airport in about 40 minutes. On to a flight to back to London to restart my Australian Network for Art and Technology synapse residency at the Wellcome Department of Neurology working with Chris Frith and also the Brighton and the Sussex Medical School working with Hugo Critchley.

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