post The propagation of emotions – first prototype.

April 2nd, 2008

Last night Evan Raskob, the wonderful programmer/artist I am working on with the Chameleon Project sent me the first stage of emotional contagion propagation piece.


mock up of emotional contagion piece of how it could work in exhibtion space.


screen capture of how piece is working now – all screen are designated to one screen so we can work through how the algorithms are actually working or not working.

Viewed the first rough last night. His written up using processing. Fantastic, as it allows me to view it over the web – and when we get it fine tuned a bit – it will allow me to show the project to the other collaborators over the web so we can all get a sense of what is going on.

Aesthetically and algorithmically it’s a first stage – sort of interesting. A beginning – the first thing that comes to me is that the movement of the faces make me focus more on the changing shape of the background rather than the facial expression. Secondly, I find myself reading the personalities of the people also via the clothes they are wearing. Thirdly. I am not getting any sense of emotional contagion – I am just seeing the faces emote in a sense that I can’t understand. Maybe its too fast…There doesn’t seem to be a rhythm. How do we make it more explicit?

I think the way that we have to work with it is looking a pacing and weighting of certain personalities. Some overdrive others. Also weightings and pace of each emotional response. We are going on meet Thursday at 11am in London to discuss the next stage of the project.

Evan says that closer analysis of how the people effect each other is necessary, because its so complicated. He knows they are spreading emotions to one another, but we’d have to play with this a bit to get some optimal values. because there are so many variables involved, we’d have to look at how to add some controls for changing the percentages (each emotional state has a list of possible emotions it can go to, with percentages… there would be about 50 sliders in all if we simple added controls for all).

In Banff, at the Liminal Screen residency at the Banff New Media Institue – I was asked a question – what if you can’t map emotional contagion. Good question – what if we can’t? What if we are making it all up – maybe it is too complex. Maybe we have to relook at how I am thinking about these emotional algorithms. Anyway, all will be clear on Thursday when we meet.

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