Title: Net.Portrait
Year of production: 2012
Medium: Installation

:: Description ::

In collaboration with Karen Sam Norgard

Net.Portrait is a live and network-based installation combined with fine-art painting, kinetic sculpture and collective network data. While you are watching the piece, the artwork is also dynamically watching you by having different emotive eyes painted on a collection of wall mounted cocktail umbrellas. The notion of gaze, in Foucault term, is explored in this piece through practical and conceptual means that tie with the network culture. The live happenings of happy and sad smiley faces from Twitter are being transformed from a text, static and virtual medium to a kinetic and physical sculpture. Every bit of spinning action amplifies the network behavior, resulting in a continuous and flowing net portrait.

:: Video documentation ::

more photos here

:: How it works ::
A custom-made controller board is linked with 16 motors (i.e 8 pairs of cocktail umbrellas). A software program (written by processing) is written to extract the live data from Twitter server, a set of pre-defined smiley faces act as the keywords to collect the whole message. This filtered message will display as an animated text as well as trigger the motors to spin, causing the optical illusion of the painted eyes on the cocktail umbrellas. A pair of eyes will spin every time the system detects a valid message, happy and sad smiley faces will result in spinning at different positions, pair by pair from bottom to top or vice versa, until all the motors are spinning together, then all motors will stop and cycle repeats.

More about the research & testing:

:: Review / Promotional Materials / Press ::

:: Exhibition Record(s) ::

  • Feb, 2012, PULSE Art and Technology @ Jepson Museum. Savannah, USA

:: Technical & Production ::

  • Software: Mac OS X 10.5.8+, Processing
  • Hardware: 16x Motors, Customized computer board, Projector (optional), 2x transformers
  • Requirement: Internet connection
  • Size: 377 (W) x 1161(H) mm

:: Acknowledgement ::

Kinsun Tung @ Prototyping-lab, Dr. Johnathan Farris, Polly @ InNoPO, Mr. Yu Kwai Yau @ A-Plus Advertising Company.