Digital Media: Nichie Tries To Graduate: SECRET BODY at York University's 3rd Annual Undergraduate Research Fair

If you've been following me here or on Twitter , you'll know two things especially: that I'm in my post-secondary graduating ye...

If you've been following me here or on Twitter, you'll know two things especially: that I'm in my post-secondary graduating year, and that school consumes about 96% of my waking life, and 68% of when I'm asleep (Y'all know the struggle is real). My honours thesis project (lovingly called "Capstone" in my program) was accepted into my University's Undergraduate Research Fair, where students are able to submit projects and awarded for certain categories.

My group and I won People's Choice Award for our project, SECRET BODY.

SECRET BODY is an interactive art installation that explored themes of stigma and social interaction. The piece attempts to display complex human emotion using data visualization and measures emotion through affective science methods. The idea behind SECRET BODY is to put the emotions people cannot talk about on display, bringing to light how relevant and universal those feelings may be. The agents of our interactivity are human shaped to express the emotions that humans bottle up inside. Each model is based off of a real person; stories, emotions, and bodies. The emotions that these people feel ashamed or afraid of expressing can come to light without fear or negative connotations. We hope that by interacting with SECRET BODY, we can leave participants with a greater sense of empathy and a lasting understanding of the effect we have on others. 

SECRET BODY uses bioinformatic data taken from heart rate and galvanic skin response sensors to create a light pattern within ten unique human-shaped models. These patterns are determined by mapping the emotive data onto a Valence-Arousal chart while the topology of these patterns correspond to the emotional centers of the body where certain emotions are physically carried. The same sensors that used to determine the display will be used to create an interface between the audience and the piece. Each model has an algorithm to determine how the display will change with audience interaction. The collective interaction data is added to a database as well to affect the receptivity of each model to the data it receives. Each model acts as an abstraction of stigmatic narrative and social relation. The constituent piece is a multitude of silent dialogue within a crowd. It is a blend of physical computing, data visualization, code, and art that taps into the deepest aspects of what makes all of us human.

Christopher and Patrick, Untraceable



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