MS Kinect & gesture pen are cool but you won’t see me using them in my show

My piece, Gulliver’s Travels, premieres in Montreal at Oboro gallery on Friday, May 13, 2011. The original invitation to work with Festival Accès Asie and Oboro was presented to me about 2 years ago…

I haven’t been working on the project for the past 2 years (I was working on the Culture Days project) but before and after I accepted, I did think about it what it might mean to produce a “networked art event” and tried to research options. Eventually I realized that there was no way I could predict where the world would go in 2 years. New technology was being announced every month.


(Image above is from the Microsoft Research site.)

During that time, locative media and augmented reality seemed to be the Next Two Things to watch out for… Microsoft’s multitouch Surface had already been released, but it was so expensive I guess we didn’t really pay much attention. Or at least, I didn’t. Then Kinect came out. And maybe it’s not related, but to me (the non-techie) Microsoft’s Kinect seems to lie in the same vein of new tools to interact with whatever software you’re using on-screen. Today, courtesy of PSFK, I just spotted Microsoft’s newest prototype – a stylus pen that recognizes different types of grips.

When Kinect came out, I considered trying to use it for Gulliver’s Travels. But the reality is that working with brand new technology is really only feasible if you are a super geek or working with super geek collaborators. And even then, you risk making the art about the technology rather than the experience for the audience.

In another year or two, it will be common, household tech, and that’s when I can feasibly play with it. In the meantime, working with more or less consumer-level technology is already opening up an interesting creative space.

I had some good thoughts this morning. Figured out some surprise elements to incorporate into the show. Won’t say what for now, but I will venture to ask aloud, does anyone know where I can get a giant (functional) kid’s crayon?

Also, figured out some ways to simplify some of the unruly technology and focus more on the audience’s role in the show.



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