UNSPOKEN PRESENCE

Unspoken Presence
Visualisation - installation view
2018


 

The Unspoken Presence is a trans-medial, interactive installation. It is based on CGI, 3D animation as well as on the motion tracking technologies that enable interaction between the image and the viewer.

The project is being developed in cooperation with Motion Capture Laboratory of the Technical Univesity in Lodz, Poland and ColorOffOn moving image post-production studio based in Warsaw.

The issue that I intend to bring up in the Unspoken Presence is loneliness, understood as an emotional state as well as a vicious circle of a hidden social problem. The project is dedicated to a group of people who are rarely thought or spoken about. They are in majority in adcanced age, often in poor physical condition, suffering from financial scarcity, with no relatives nor close friends. They are often homebound and therefore unable to create new relations neither participate in social, community life. Their situation leads to alienation which, consequently, causes loneliness - an emotional and psychological experience of one’s existence’s unimportance.
The installation combines of four, vertical, digital screens. Each screen hosts a portrait of an uncannily realistic, CGI, human figure of natural size. Viewer’s attention is drawn by the fact that the anonymous images are sensitive to human presence. As soon as one approaches any of the screens, the portrait immediately reacts: it starts to speak, looking directly at and addressing its monologue to the viewer as well as insisting to be listened to, as soon as one tries to go away. While image’s reaction is already an unexpected surprise, it is the voice that proves to create the most striking dissonance.
Although each avatar’s mimics and lips’ movements fit perfectly the spoken words, the voice argues with their presence as a male images narrate with women speech and the young girl’s depiction speaks with elderly male’s tone. Contrary to the digital effigies, the strikingly authentic narrations belongs to the real people.
The dissonance between the artificial image and their speech increases when the narration touches upon the utterly human issues: memory and loneliness.
The sound contained in the installation has been recorded during the Caritas voluntary program I have been participating since couple of months now. The program is dedicated to people who, because of various factors, function in absolute solitude and social alienation. When visiting the people I am taking care of, I often, by their permission, record their monologues about their memories, the expierience of being alone, the stories they want be heard about.


The monologues’ authenticity contrasts with the artificiality of the avatars in a striking but also intriguing manner. The piece plays with paradox and confronts its viewers with a cognitive dissonance in order to provoke them to focus and pay attention to the image’s ambiguous narration. Subsequently, the perplexing nature of visual narrators determines the viewer to analyze the nature of the image and its relation with reality. Thus, the project is not only designed to engage the viewers intellectually, but also emotionally and to suggest the realistically existing issue.

 

Examples of human 3D models
available at the Turbosquid portal



 

Despite its main subject and the focus on human condition, the work will also refer to the idea of visual representation. Although the portraits avoid similarity to the particular people, the still prove to be a tool that both records and mediate one’s presence. The avatars I plan to use in the installation have not been created on purpose for the project. These can be acquired at websites such as Turbosquid for both individual and commercial use. Most of the 3D avatars are being produced by VR studios and acquired afterwards by virtual gaming projects, as well as, very often, by pornographicindustry. They never have a real existing predecessor, an authentic, human model. The 3D models are being designed in order to serve as the all-purpose virtual actors. Thus, their appearances has to be ultimately optimal and universal. In terms of visual representations, they prove to be incomplete, as they do not fulfill the most basic role of an image: they do not represent anything nor anyone. They are rather like all-purpose, inanimate marionettes, uncanny simulacra.
The appropriation of the 3D models in order to humanize them would cause the effect of dissonance which is crucial for the project’s expression.

The work will be available in Polish and English version.
 

Each of the interactive „portraits” combines of a tv screen, a Kinect and installations engine. Microsoft Kinect is a motion tracking device that registers and communicates if somebody is appears/disappears in in front of the screen to the installation’s engine. The engine is simply a laptop with an installed software that is respon-sible for the reaction of the animated portrait. The relation Kinect-Engine simulates interaction between viewers position and the behavior of the image that reacts on their presence. The engine also combines an application that simulates eye contact between the narrating image and a viewer. The image is visible on the screen.
All of the components are closed in a frame/ wooden case and may be attached both to the wall as well as hung in the open space (depending on the ceiling’s height).

 

Unspoken Presence
design -  frame/case construction
2018


 

Unspoken Presence
fragment: narration of Mrs. E.
2018


 

THIS WORK IS IN PROGRESS

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