post ethnographic style film on emotional contagion.

May 26th, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT — Tina @ 6:38 pm

When I was at the Banff New Media Institute, shooting the visual side of the Project. We did a four camera shoot in the Telus studio at banff – We had Maria Lantin, Director, Intersections Digital Studio Emily Carr Institute and also video artist Leila Sujir, myself and also Matthew Wild, my partner and Pablo Wild.

The aim was to capture micro expressions and emotional contagion. Science has revealed that these shifting muscle movements then trigger the actual emotional feeling by causing the same neurons to fire in the brain as if you were experiencing the emotion naturally. When you feel happy, your brain might send a signal to your mouth to smile. With emotional contagion, the facial tiny muscles movements involved in smiling send a signal to your brain, telling it to feel happy (Hatfield 1996). This is how emotions spread.

I have been working on the piece for the last few days . Its an intensive and difficult edit, as no time code can be lost.  I am looking to slow the video  to reveal delicate interplays of communication. The voice will be stripped, so the body language can be isolated and amplified. It was shot on a black background – in order to focus on the micro-movements of body language. An important area to deal with is pace. Already, I am zooming up on the image.

the initial mock up for the shoot



post meeting in London with ros picard, rana el kaliouby, chris frith, hugo critchley, helen sloan

May 26th, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT — Tina @ 5:43 pm

I organised a dinner at my place last week as Rana El Kaliouby and Ros Picard from the Affective Computing Group at the MIT Medialab were in London. Ros and Rana are developing the real time facial emotion expression software that I am using in my project, Chameleon, a video installation exploring emotional contagion. Chris Frith is a social neuroscientist from the Wellcome Department of Neuroimaging who is helping develop the emotional algorithms used to drive the video. Hugo Critchley from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School is advising on the visual changes that will happen to the work dependent on the emotional state of the audience. Helen Sloan is curating the work.

Intro Summary of Chameleon Meeting 16/5/08

Ros Picard showed her system measuring brain activity through a GSRsensor. The potential uses for this were discussed as well as trends in Ros’s own response in relation to those of colleagues. Ros took a few versions over, but they aren’t coping so well with all the travel.

Rana El Kalioby demonstrated her system which responds in real time to facial expression. The software analyses the expression and ‘reading the mind’. It is the older version of the software – she is developing it that other researchers can modify it for their own use. The software works on PC.

Tina Gonsalves showed the work that she had achieved at Banff and the Phase 1 of the project.  The strength of the images and the response of the actors was noted and many of the scientists present commented that these images were much better than those in common usage in their research. Hugo Critchley commented that this was one of the reasons he began to work with Tina.

Was there some application for the images in scienfific research and how would the interaction work with this? 

Chris Frith talked of research around suggestion eg gesture being different to signifier of facial expression. Should one facial expression also signify more than one emotional state at times? 

Should this be addressed?

From these demonstrations a number of ways of approaching interactivity in relation to the images of Chameleon were addressed:

1)    Should there be different algorithms for each character?

2)    Should there be an intelligent/adaptive component in the interactive system?

3)    Should it just be facial expression that is tracked? Hugos work could be incorporated for instance.

4)    What expressions should be videoed. Currently we have angry, neutral, surprised, happy, sad, disgust

 Tina wanted to know if the work should stay screen-based or not and referenced the work of Tony Oursler. In a subsequent discussion, Tina and Helen talked about the possibility of 3 dimensional representation of shapes that relate to particular moods using a 3 D printer.  These could be used as projection surfaces.

It was also mentioned that there was a danger of Uncanny Valley if things try to be too representational.

It was suggested that the work could be used for scientific research if people gave permission in the gallery space. Scientists may also want to hold workshops or labs in the gallery to gather some research.

post exhibition of the initial stages of CHAMELEON at the ICA, London

May 13th, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT — Tina @ 6:15 pm

I am in London working on the Synapse Residency Award by the Australian Network for Art and Technology. While in London, i am exhibiting work in progress of the Chameleon Project  - a moving image investigation of emotional contagion.

After setting the date for the ICA exhibition (which was the 6th May), sending out promotional emails etc, they have realised that their new shiny walls do not work with projections, so they are now redecorating…I did mention last week that it could be an issue. It is supposed to open this week, but all feels a little disorganized. They did set it up for the night of the meeting last week, and we are organising the next implementation.

We are exhibiting two works :

Chameleon Phase 1 – Experiments in emotional contagion

Artist, Tina Gonsalves is working with scientists and cultural producers, to explore the  CHAMELEON project, an artwork about the interplay of emotional contagion. Over two weeks, visitors to the ICA bar can both view and interact with some of the initial experiments of a two-year investigation. 

Chameleon experiment one, explores the intimate communication between a couple. They interact with each other via ‘emotional algorithms’ informed by neuroscientific research of how we read and respond to emotional states. The couple become caught in an uncontrollable array of emotional dramas, sporadically attempting to resolve them. Simultaneously, a search of the web automatically captures and transposes recent posts about emotions that relate to how the man and woman are feeling. The text contextualizes the emotional expression, and poetically highlights how often, in intense emotional states, we are always on the threshold of making sense, and searching for meaning. 


Chameleon experiment two, explores the ever-shifting emotions of a social group. Twelve people socialize together. The emotional feelings of each individual constantly infect the emotional state of the group, often causes the group into destructive loops of emotions. Over time behavioural patterns, hierarchical and social power structures emerge as they constantly search for an emotional homeostasis.  Additionally, the audience can SMS an emotion to disrupt, or aid the emotional solidarity of the group.
SMS  an emotion to the whole group (“happy”, “sad”, “surprised”, “disgusted”, “angry” and “neutral”). Alternatively, choose a single face (1 to 12). Text your number plus the emotion – For example, “sad 12”, makes the figure on the bottom right sad. You can do this remotely or at the ICA bar.
The number to text is:  07811 101090



post At the Nokia Research Labs, Tampere, Finland

May 13th, 2008

I have been in Tampere, in Finland meeting with the Nokia Research Group. Was an interesting time – I pitched a few projects to them and they seem quite supportive of the work. A particular work, “Synchronicity” which has been initially funded by the Australian Arts council Synapse Award (still awaiting Australian Research Council approval) they are interested in.It looks at how prosody can be used to trigger meaningful video/ moving image sharing. I will be working with Christian Jones – who knows a lot about tracking the emotional intonation of voice, and also Andrew Brown, who works a lot with computational systems and sound. Nokia seemed very supportive of this project.

I also pitched a few other projects – “Divulge”, which looks at how psycholinguistics and neuroscientific paradigms can be used to alter and imbue textual conversation. I have been trying to get this project off the ground, taking advantage of  my time in London working on the ANAT Synapse Residency. For the project, I am aiming to work with Pat Healey a very interesting computer scientist running the interdisciplinary lab at Queen Mary,  Jonathon Ginzbirg a computer linguist based at Kings College and also Chris Frith and Hugo Critchley, as well as Nadia Berthouze, who work in emotion HCI evaluation at university of London’s Human computer interaction center.

I also pitched another project exploring serendipity. I pitched to two groups at Nokia Research Labs. It was a long meeting – went for three, but worth the trip.

I am now writing up how I would like them to support the work. 


post cultural specifics of reading faces

May 13th, 2008

Filed under: interesting research,working on conceptual threads — Tina @ 5:55 pm


Published: March 18, 2008


How do you know how someone is feeling? For people in Western societies, it is usually easy: look at the person’s face.

But for people from Japan and other Eastern societies, a new study finds, it may be more complex — having to do not only with evaluating the other person’s face but also with gauging the mood of others who might be around.

The differences may speak to deeply ingrained cultural traits, the authors write, suggesting that Westerners may “see emotions as individual feelings, while Japanese see them as inseparable from the feelings of the group.”

The findings are based on a study of about three dozen students in two groups — one Japanese, one Western — who were shown a series of drawings of five children. The volunteers were told that the drawings were going to be used in an educational television program and that the researchers wanted to see how realistic they were.

Sometimes the expressions of all the children in an image were the same, but more often they varied. The participants were asked to look at the face of the person at the center of the picture and rate it on a 10-point scale for happiness, sadness and anger.

The Western students did not much change their assessment of a character’s mood no matter what was happening with the other characters. But for most of the Japanese participants, it made a measurable difference. If the figure in the center had a happy face but those in the background were sad or angry, they tended to give the happy figure a lower score. If everyone was happy, they gave the figure in the center a higher one. When the images were shown to two other groups of students wearing equipment that tracked their eye movements, the researchers found that the Japanese spent more time looking at the children in the background of the pictures.

The study appears in the March issue of The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. While the study offers hints into how different the world may look to people from different cultures, it raises as many questions as answers. “We don’t know exactly what’s going on,” said the lead author, Takahiko Masuda, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Alberta in Canada.

Still, the study fits squarely in a longstanding body of research into differences between Eastern and Western perceptions of the world around us.

Researchers studying paintings from the 16th through 20th centuries, for example, have found that in Western portraits, the subject took up a larger portion of the picture and was painted in a way to make the subject stand out, the study said. In Eastern portraits, the subjects tended to be smaller and to blend into the background.

Even now, the differences often remain. When Dr. Masuda and other researchers handed students cameras in an earlier study and asked them to take portraits, the subjects filled more space in the frame of the photographs taken by the Americans.

Many researchers have suggested that East Asians take a more holistic view of the world.

In the new study on faces, the findings may also reflect social differences, said Kristi L. Lockhart, a lecturer in psychology at Yale who has studied both cultures. Where Western societies tend to promote individuality, Eastern ones emphasize the needs of the group. So when a Japanese sees a happy person amid sad ones, it may be a bit unsettling. He may adjust his view of how happy that person is “because of his real desire to fit in with the group and to not be different,” Dr. Lockhart said.

post emotional bonds of society

May 13th, 2008

Filed under: CHAMELEON PROJECT — Tina @ 5:52 pm





Study of the Political Thought of L. von Mises, K. Popper, F.A. Hayek and M. Polanyi, 
with an Appendix on A. Kolnai

(Excerpts) Chapter 14

The Emotional Bonds of Society


L. von Mises, K. Popper, F.A. Hayek and M. Polanyi, 
with an Appendix on A. Kolnai

1. Emotional Unity and the Levels of Sympathy

1. Emotional infection, in which B’s experience of the signs of an emotion or mood in A cause B to `catch’ that emotion or mood, but without knowing, in the case of an emotion, what it is directed to. In a herd of animals, one animal is alarmed at something. The others, seeing, hearing or perhaps smelling the signs of its alarm, themselves become alarmed. In the same way panic or hysteria sweeps through a crowd. People go to parties in order to become infected by the jovial atmosphere.

2. Emotional identification, a heightened form of emotional infection in which the other’s emotions are taken as one’s own. This is the attraction of spectator sports and of the vicarious wish-fulfilment offered by popular fiction and drama. In them one experiences, but at second-hand and safely, the efforts, triumphs and defeats of the protagonists. One feels the impact of a blow as the boxer reels from a punch, the satisfaction of a well-timed stroke as the batsman drives the ball effortlessly to the boundary, the heart-break of the heroine when her lover betrays her. Emotional identification can result in emotional parasitism, either as living off the emotions of another (usually someone weaker and impressionable who can thus be used by the emotionally hungry person) in order to fill the emotional void in one’s own life, or as identifying oneself so completely with the other that one has no emotions, nor thoughts nor will, of one’s own but becomes a conduit for his.

3. Community of feeling, in which A and B experience the same emotion towards the same object, as when two persons grieve over the death of the same friend.

4. Fellow-feeling or sympathy proper, in which A shares in B’s emotion towards C. Two parents standing by the grave of their child not only experience the same emotion of grief, but each is aware of and shares in the other’s grief. Sympathy presupposes the ability to visualise the other’s emotion. But, Scheler points out, that is not enough, for so also does cruelty. The cruel person needs to know that the other is suffering in order to enjoy, to cause or to intensify his suffering. The merely callous person is oblivious to what the other feels.

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