Injection is an interactive experience presented in the SIGGRAPH 1995 Interactive Entertainment venue by Tom White and Graviton.
  • Injection Abstract
  • Background for this Work
  • Cultivating Virtual Artists
  • Hardware and Software Running the Exhibit
  • Experiencing the Exhibit
  • More information and updates to this document

  • Injection Abstract

    Injection compels the participants to witness the process of creation of works by virtual artists that are more prolific than human artist could ever aspire to be. These artists follow the participants and use various means of perception to create 10-20 still works per second. These become frames of a continual movie that the participant watches and influences through his/her behavior.

    The artists creating these works all exist within the computer, and each has varying abilities of perception and different methods of expression. The participant influences what an artists sees and hears, and the artist produces an ever-flowing cascade of images on a large screen projector. Occasionally, an artist may choose to print a frame from the interactive experience to provide a still picture generated from the dynamic interactive work. This would represent a collaboration between the current participant(s) and the active artist(s).

    It is my wish to provide an engaging and natural interactive experience that will spark the participants' imagination. This is achieved through the most natural interface, unencumbered full-bodied movement with the feedback coming in immediate large scale visual response. I also feel that I have created an aesthetically pleasing experience that simultaneously presents itself in many different formats, leaving those who attend with different ideas about the meaningful artistic result of a complex interaction and perhaps questioning exactly who is the artist

    Background for this Work

    This work represents the synthesis of many different types of past work.

    Computers have been used to create MetaArt, a new area of expression in which the artist produces an intermediary intelligence for the purpose of having it produce the end pieces of art. Thus, artists are able to impose values and tastes on a virtual entity at will, and have this virtual artist produce works of art once removed from the original creator.
    Interactive Exhibits
    Computers have also been used to create environments in which artists explore expression through interaction. These interactive works have traditionally engaged the viewer in a short experience that breaks traditional artistic boundaries by actively involving the participant such that no two experiences are exactly the same.
    Artificial Life
    Artificial Life is a recent discipline of Artificial Intelligence which seeks to simulate the process of evolution in a virtual environment maintained by a computer.

    Injection attempts to bridge these ideas by creating virtual artists that are responsible for observing the behavior of the participant (or participants) and expressing what they see in an ever flowing interactive abstraction of these perceptions. The perception available to these artists will include traditional cameras and microphones, as well as perceptual abilities that human artists do not have including the ability to view the infrared spectrum through a special camera. The artist will observe, express, judge, and present itself to the participant all within a fraction of a second so that the participant feels a continuity between his/her behavior.

    On a personal level, this work is a continuation of ideas I have expressed through interactive environments, including assisting in collaborations of Small Planet in the 1993 SIGGRAPH Tomorrow Realities exhibit and Voice Dancer in the 1994 SIGGRAPH The Edge gallery. This work represents a fundamental change in my past experience because I am not creating the interaction as the participant will experience it myself, but instead I am focusing my energies on creating intelligent artificial artists, each with a unique identity. Also notable is a shift from detailed three dimensional modeling to tying the interaction to traditional two dimensional works.

    Cultivating Virtual Artists

    The artists are developed using a variety of genetic algorithms, including artificial evolution algorithms. Each has its own method of picking which stimulus to respond to, as well as deciding how to embody these perceptions in a two dimensional snapshot of the participant. These artists are then evaluated by myself where I judge them on aesthetic interest, continuity between frames and between works, and responsiveness to the participants' behavior. Those chosen by me continue to develop under my supervision, and it is ultimately me who decides which artists are worthy of exhibition. Through this selection process many different visual artists are created, each with its own perception of the world and outward expression of what it experiences.

    Hardware and Software Running the Exhibit

    The hardware running this exhibit is not exotic. The artists and their means of expression all live within the walls of a Power Macintosh desktop computer. The perception available to these artists primarily comes through an ordinary video camera, but each artist can optionally choose to also use the input from a microphone or an enhanced view of the participant via a special infrared camera. The constantly updated expression of each artist is fed to an external projector which is directly in front of the participant. If an artist is particularly happy with an interaction, it may choose to create a hard copy based on the participant with an attached color printer. These hard copy works would represent a collaboration between the artist and the participant, and could be one frame of the interaction, a series of interesting shots, or a wash of images over time - all at the discretion of the virtual artist, of course.

    All software used to cultivate the virtual artists and the software used in the exhibit was made by Tom White specifically for the Injection project.

    Experiencing the Exhibit

    Note: the following is an explanation of the exhibit, with graphics that approximate the viewer's perspective. Because of the nature of the exhibit, it is best experienced, or viewed as video shot on site. Unfortunately this video not available at press time. For more up to date sources, please see the update information in the section below, which include outside links to updated information.

    The floor space of this project centers around a large area, about 24' by 12', which contains the active participants and a large screen projector at one end. This space allows enough room for a participant or multiple participants to move around exploring the personalities of the active artist perceiving the person through the cameras a few meters away. The participant will not be actively aware of the cameras or the computer running the exhibit, but will interact exclusively with the large screen projection. In addition, there will likely be many passive viewers of the current "performance" involving the artist and the kinetic subject. There is also a small surrounding area for a small gallery exhibiting some of the hard copy works of the virtual artists.

    Here are some interactions possible in the exhibit. The pictures represent either the view of the camera or the display on the projector, both situated at the front of the exhibit space.

    The first example shows three frames from a single participant.
    View of 
    And here is a corresponding projection from a fictitious artist.
    Projection of participant
    The artist has blurred the image, and in the latter frames highlights and exaggerates movement. It is also possible that the head has been enlarged because of its movement, or perhaps by some other criterion.

    The second example shows four frames of a couple experiencing the exhibit together.
    View of 2 participants
    And here is the corresponding projection from a different fictitious artist.
    Projection of the 2 participants
    Here we see a more abstract representation by the artist of the camera source. The behavior of this artist also appears to have changed greatly by the sudden movement of the participants.

    Finally, here is a still shot of a group of four people in the exhibit.
    View of 4 participants
    And this is an example of a transformation done by yet another fictitious virtual artist.
    Projection of the 2 participants
    This artist used simple transformations to make the perspective of the resulting image slightly skewed. Then it appears an edge detection was overlaid at a slight offset to get an interesting shadow effect.

    More information and updates to this document

    The most up to date version of this document can be found
    here, on the Graviton web page. This version includes updates to this information and many links to related information, as well as footage of the exhibit itself. There may also be more information in the future under the home page for SIGGRAPH 95.

    To contact the person behind this exhibit, you can email Tom White at either He can also be reached by sending postal mail to the following address:

    Tom White
    PO Box 829
    Athens, Ga 30603-0829

    or by calling the US number 706.548.4332.

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