Cyber Arts Japan, Ars Electronica – 30 years for Art and Media Technology (Feb.2-Mar.22, 2010)
Honorary Mention of Interactive Art, Prix Ars Electronica 2009 (May, 2009)
Curated Show, SIGGRAPH Asia 2008 (Dec.11-13, 2008)
Documentation Video (on YouTube)
The Documentation at Cyber Arts Japan (on YouTube)
Installation (full movie) (on YouTube)
The installation consists of approx. 2 minutes of each document of 4 cities. Total Length of the video loop is 9:22. It had been exhibited at Cyber Arts Japan in 2010.
” Watch Me! ” is an experimental project dedicated to documenting social bind (defined below) by intervening in a public space. It watches the different behavior of people’s “eyes” using a robot bear as an unusual event. The project was finally presented as an installation.
If it is the first time for you to stay in some country, you may be puzzled by people’s behavior as they respond to incidents or encounters.
Then you might realize that they seem to behave spontaneously but are predisposed to exhibit certain behavioral traits by society and culture. We call this “social bind”.
You maybe feel that, people at a train station in Tokyo for instance, look very cool and calm.
People in a jam-packed train car during rush hourtend to be quiet. Nobody ever complains even if someone’s music from an iPod is too loud. You might wonder whether people just do not mind or whether they are afraid of complaining. Probably, the latter would be true. In addition, conversation between people who do not known each other is rare.
However, it is not true that people are unaware of others, but instead try to ignore them.
Probably, in Tokyo, social bind is quite strong.
If you live in a city in a different country, you will find that social bind exists as a quite different thing from that in Tokyo. This is because the cultural and social rules differ from country to country.
So, how do people react when an unusual event happens in a public space.
For this project, we assumed that the behavior of peoples’ “eyes” is the most excellent index of their reactions.
Do they experience the event and try to be nonchalant about it? Do they stare with great interest? Do they nervously look around?
Watching the behavior of their eyes let’s us observe the social bind of a local area.
Furthermore, how does society react when an unusual event happens? Does the police come? Does some authority of a local area force us to clear out or make a detour? Does someone like a gangster make us donate something? Does no one complain?
Through the “Watch Me!” project, we ask you not only to become aware [to observe] social bind and cultural differences in local areas but also to contemplate the boundaries of privacy.
3-1. A teddy-bear-like robot is the main performer in the project. It looks cute, but has been programmed to move hard and awkwardly.
3-2. The robot is put on a street in various cities to watch passersby’s behavior.
3-3. Three hi-vision camcorders put below the robot and covering 180 degrees record reactions of passersby. Only the area around the eyes is extracted from the movies; other areas are blurred. These effects are applied by a custom program written in C++.
3-4. The project has been carried out in various locations in the world, such as Shibuya (Tokyo), Sugamo (Tokyo), Nanba (Osaka), Mirogi (Kenya), Chinatown (N.Y.), Linz (Austria).
3-5. The project was presented as an installation using three projectors and the robot bear.
Robot-phone, PC, hi-vision camcorder, Projector
Software: custom software written in C++
Operating System: Windows XP (for robot bear)
Digital Video Camera
AV cable (from camera to computer)
Monitor Cable (10 meters)
Materials for building the installation
3 Video Projectors (over 4,000 lumens projectors are preferable)
3 Blue-lay disk players
5 by 7meter sized floor and approx. 4meter of the ceiling is preferable.