Spotlight is about an artist’s ability to create a new meaning using the combination of interactive portraits and diptych or polyptych layouts. The mere placement of two or more portraits near each other is a known technique to create a new meaning in the viewer’s mind. Spotlight takes this concept into the interactive domain, creating interactive portraits that are aware of each other’s state and gesture.
Spotlight is an installation of 16 interactive portraits. Each portrait has a set of 9 “temporal gestures” — photographic-quality sequences of human gestures such as “looking up”. The portraits are networked, and placed in a 4×4 layout. Every few seconds, a randomly selected portrait is looking towards a neighboring portrait. In turn, the neighboring portrait will look back. To a viewer of the installation, these “random discussions” create a sense of “social dynamics”. The viewer can interrupt the group dynamics at any time, by selecting one of the 16 portraits. The remaining 15 portraits automatically react and direct their attention to the viewer-selected portrait, which reacts with a special gesture — “being the center of attention”.
Both the visual layout and the interaction creates new meaning for the viewer. Using a combination of interaction techniques, Spotlight engages the viewer at two levels. At the group level, the viewer influences the portraits “social dynamics”. At the individual level, a portrait’s “temporal gestures” expose much about the subject’s personality.
The portraits have been shown at the SIGGRAPH 2006 Art Show. Also, a version of this piece is currently installed at the British Telecom world headquarters, where it allows the thousands of lay workers to experience in a home humanistic way the personalities of the top leaders at BT.