Max 7 Interactive Installation Idea

This interactive installation will use a motion capture camera and a large video screen. It plays on sound, image clarity, and scale using a daisy in a field.

From the very beginning, I knew that I wanted to work with a nature theme. I kept this in the back of my mind as I looked through the work on Cycling74 that used Max. I came across Karl Krach’s piece “Der Crytochron.” It used a video stream of the hallway directly behind the screen it was being played on. The video’s speed was affected by how close a patron was to the screen; the closer the patron, the faster the video played. Krach’s work here focuses on the relationship between time and space. I wanted to implement this idea using sound, image clarity, and scale to get my idea across.

The set up I plan to use is similar to Krach’s: a video screen and a camera facing the person looking at it. The video will be of a daisy in a field, with ambient sound playing in the background. When the person is standing farthest from the camera, they will be viewing the flower from a very high angle, with unsaturated color and “snow” over the image. The sound will be harsh, static-y, and slightly unnatural. When the viewer moves closer, however, the image will become crisper and cleaner; the colors will become sharper and the snow will dissipate. The sounds will become more natural and calming. The viewer’s perspective will also shift, until the daisy is towering over them.

A short mockup of the visual and audio for when the viewer is standing far from the screen.
A short mockup of the visual and audio for when the viewer is standing close to the screen.

When I was brainstorming for this video, I almost immediately knew that I wanted the sound to become more chaotic as the viewer backed away from the camera and that the image should become less clear. What I didn’t know for certain was what type of plant to use (flower or tree?) and if I wanted the viewer to view the flower from the high angle when close to or far from the screen. Ultimately, I felt that the use of a small, almost insignificant flower fit my message more than a tall and mighty tree. The high angle when the viewer is more distant made more sense spatially and fit into the theme I wanted as well.

The intent behind this interactive piece is how I interpret the importance of a connection to and appreciation of nature. When someone is disconnected and furthest from nature, their understanding of themselves and the world around them is hazy and unclear; this is how they see the image of the daisy. They have a false sense of dominance over the natural world; this is represented by the high angle the viewer has over the daisy. They also never feel truly peaceful; this is reflected in the sound design. When a person begins to connect with nature, meaning behind life begins to become clearer to them. They will question why they believe they are more important than anything in nature, even a small flower. Through this connection with nature, they will begin to understand themselves better, and will gain peace within themselves. This is all embodied in the transitions of image sharpness and clarity, exchange of power between the viewer and the daisy, and the audio becoming more soothing. While the idea sounds very eccentric, hopefully the patrons to the installation will gain some appreciation for the natural world.

Sound design used in “Far” video I produced in Audacity and edited in Adobe Audition; audio for “Close” was downloaded from freesound.org. All images were made my me in Adobe Illustrator and editted in Adobe Photoshop. I edited the videos in Adobe After Effects.
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