Heads is an interactive artwork which allows users to upload pictures of themselves into an animated fantasy world displayed over two screens. With interactivity at the heart of it, it is accessible to anyone with a camera and Bluetooth or email on their mobile phone. The software crops the face from any portrait shot and embeds it into a bespoke animation running on big screens in a foyer to gallery space. ‘Heads’ creates a great fun space where children and adults like enjoy seeing their ‘disembodied’ heads transplanted into another visual world.
COOKING TIME: About 2 months
Using the original brief ‘My Best Friend’ start to create a piece where users can upload images of their best friend to a large projection.
To make it more compelling than a mosaic of faces on a wall, work together on a theme in which the image uploaded is of a person’s head and things happen to it.
Spend some time discussing how to share the animation work in Flash; some of is purely graphical (Steve) and the rest programmatic (Tim).
Produce software that detects faces from an uploaded image, writing the majority of code from scratch as well as experimenting with existing open-source face-detection software (debugging the open-source Bluetooth library during the process).
Although open-source software is used wherever possible, a significant amount of software in Flash (ActionScript), Java, PHP, and shell-scripting is needed. This must be capable of dealing with uploads from both email and Bluetooth, handle coordination between the screens and integrate the artist’s work.
Create two fictional worlds; ‘Rightworld and “Wrongworld”, which use Steve’s playful and quirky animations.
Think about using projections to display the project, but decide this is logistically impossible.
Instead, give each of these worlds a display screen but allow the heads to move between them, adding another dimension to the installation.
Remember to keep the project simple, accessible and appealing to both children and adults.
Ensure anyone with a mobile phone can use it and keep playfulness at the heart of it.
Upload some existing content to the worlds to get people started. For example, celebrities’ heads add another dimension of excitement for the user, particularly children, to enjoy.
Set up the installation in the busy cafe area of The Public to give users time and space to play with it. Write some simple user info so that people know how to add their own faces to it. Add a couple of gallery people to explain how things work. Film people playing and ask them what they think.
Leave Heads working for people to continuously change and update the installation. As new heads are uploaded, the worlds keep changing.
I really liked the animation and the funny effect of random associations ( my face was shown close to Gaddafi’s one) but I think that adding a camera to the screens would make it easier to get people involved.
Kids loved it! Quirky & different. Lots of kids liked being on same screen as Rihanna