Becoming the Artefact – II

Introducing Face it: You're Learning

Impressed with the idea that our users could use their face to control the installation, we named our project: Face it: you’re learning. We carried out some user testing and we found out that forcing the user to smile throughout the installation did the following things:

  • They focused more on the fact that they could control the installation via smiling more than focusing on the artefact
  • It made them laugh


Our assumption was by requiring the user to smile throughout the installation would cause them to focus entirely on the artefact. This idea came from the fact that the application Snapchat required users to press & hold their thumb/finger on the screen in order to view a video and if they stopped pressing the screen the video would stop playing. Our results seem to have shown something different so we changed it to a smile to start the installation instead. (Snapchat have also recently changed this feature, so that should tell you something)


Quick Logo for our project,(some read it as “Foce it”) ;(

The Coding Begins

To our surprise Ken Knowlton replied to our email,(there was quite some effort to track down his contact but in the end we got him) he managed to give us some insight in form of a link as to why and how he made the artefact as well as indirectly giving us a little challenge by stating that I doubt that you’re planning to put that much programming effort into retracing my steps (the original code is irretrievable).

Email From Ken Knowlton

After carrying out the necessary research, reading the text he sent us, we decided to book an appointment at the V&A Blythe house archive with the hopes of getting a high res image of the artefact. It was a rainy cold day, the wind was strong and I was sick. Yoogle went through box after box, and because we did not have the exact reference we could not find the artefact. Not only did this annoy us, but it encouraged us to re-imagine the experience of visiting an archive. Artefacts needed to be more accessible, needed to immerse the user more and although we left the archive empty handed, we left the building with the inspiration to complete our task, which is to create this amazing installation.

We began to plan to put a lot of programming effort in to the project, armed with processing, google, Youtube videos and a small program from our tutor Oliver, we were ready to begin.

Below is the program from our tutor Oliver, what this piece of code does is hack the laptops camera and manipulates it to give out the effect in the picture that follows.

Oliver’s webcam transformation code

Oliver’s webcam transformation result

We began to play around with this piece of code, by changing the pixels size and changing the shapes that are generated from circles, x and + to just having + shapes. See below,

Our webcam transformation code

Our webcam transformation result

The reason we carried out this exercise was to see that we would be able to change the shapes that were being generated so that we can somehow create shapes that resemble shells.

NB: we though of uploading images of real shells but our tutor advices against it for it would take way too long to load.