Mother May I

Award Winning Collaborative Sound & Light Experience
Ideation, UX, Programming, Electronics, Installation

Seattle artist Kate Vrijmoet and I collaborated on two iterations of an interactive art piece called “Mother May I”. This version, installed in New York City, included projected light “zones”, a webcam detecting where people stepped within the piece, and a soundtrack of people saying things like “Don’t step on the art!” in varying intensities as participants got closer to the center of the piece. Children would instantly start moving their bodies around to play with the interactions. Adults walking obliviously through the piece would sometimes give a start and then look around trying to make sure they weren’t the person stepping on someone’s art piece.

The piece required machine vision in order to detect motion in the various quadrants laid out on the floor. I programmed this in Max/MSP/Jitter, testing it out using the webcam built into my computer. When we got to the venue, I mounted a webcam into the ceiling, took a photo with it and then photoshopped in the areas the computer should pay attention to. The projection was reflected off of a mirror, found well-hidden in the nearby Ikea. This allowed the projector to be tucked further into the ceiling than if it was aimed straight down. Speakers were mounted at the four corners of the piece in order to allow the voices to come from various places in the space.