Through my current job as interaction designer in Switzerland, I had the chance to develop the storytelling of a six months long exhibition that is currently taking place in the museum Art et Collections, in Crans Montana.
The pieces that are displayed are traditional Swiss masks, carved in the Lötschental valley, in Wallis. This tradition has been ongoing for centuries now, and those masks are beautiful, fascinating and strange at the same time, not to mention really creepy.
So, in order to highlight the strangeness of those masks, we decided to give the impression to the viewer that they were watched by the pieces. To illustrate this idea, we decided to do 2 different projects.
The first one was really simple: we projected moving eyes on the masks, as if they were looking around. This was made by video mapping.
We mapped moving eyes on some masks to give an feeling of strangeness and uneasyness to the viewer.
The second project was to give actual motion to the masks and give the impression that they were following the viewer around. To do this, we used a Kinect to track people’s movement, and then we transmitted the data to a microcontroller that would move motors, to which the masks were attached. As a result, the masks would spin in a way that they would constantly face the viewer.
Here is a video of the first prototype we built. We are using a kinect for tracking, and the mask is mounted on a spinning motor, to give the impression that it is following the viewer around.
Here is a shaky video of the exhibition opening. You can see the masks are following the viewers as they walk past.
The event was covered by Swiss TV who did a short video about it. You can see the tweet here.