With all my testing done, Its time to draw together some conclusions based on my work. The brief was to:
Create a piece of interactive information design for a shared public space, which is intended to elucidate/explain some an idea or concept you perceive as key to our 21st century media experience.
When I came up with my final idea of face swapping, I laid out some goals with regards to what I wanted to achieve visually with the swapping itself, and theoretically with an embodiment of a 21st century media experience.
When I started I broke the process down into 4 steps:
- Track the faces on the video feed.
- Capture the tracked faces and save them as an image within Processing.
- Resize the images to match the face they will be swapped with.
- Display the resized faces on top of the video feed in the appropriate location.
My final version was about to achieve all the steps, plus one more (the masking) which made the end project even better. The masking addition meant my face swapping was able to better play with peoples’ identities and representations as the blurring of the swapped faces made them blend in far better than they ever did before.
Based on my user testing I feel I was definitely able to achieve my goal of getting some playful reactions. I wanted to interrupt people passing through the foyer space, making them slow down or stop to interact with my piece. The camera based interactions was enough to make this happen as people stopped to play around with the face swapping, altering their usual behaviour in the space and making them stand out. In my post about Goffman’s Performance Theory, I mentioned how, in theory, face swapping should alter front stage performances. Face swapping on screen was able to successfully engross (some) people in their altered representations and forget about their performance and actions in the actual foyer space. It might not seem much but it takes quite a lot to get some people to deviate from social norms in public, even if not everyone was interested in it.
The interactive information design was supposed to reflect ideas of our 21st century media experience. While I was focused on playing with identity and representation, I don’t think these ideas were as apparent to the audience as they were to me during my observations. However the idea of Augmented Reality was apparent to at least one audience member and is quite clear with my real time face swapping.
If I was to do this again or had longer to work with I would first like to leave the face swapping running for a longer period of time with a static camera pointed to record potential interactions. I feel from my testing it wasn’t really a true test of my interactive information graphic as there were constantly people hovering about the screens, myself included as we waited in turn to use them and to try and record peoples’ interactions. This could’ve put some people off interacting with it as there could be too much pressure on them as there were so many observers. On the other hand it could’ve increased interest in the screens as there were so many people eagerly hanging around which is intriguing as to what they’re doing.
I would love to try this out in another location too, perhaps one where people would be waiting around more, giving a longer opportunity to notice and interact with my face swapping. For example, in the foyer space, there is a screen in front of the elevators and that could be a really interesting place to try it. As people are waiting for the elevator to come, they would be facing in the direction of the screen (as its on the same wall) and therefore they should be more likely to notice the face swapping.
From my experiments and testing, the face swapping works a lot better with people who are sitting/ standing still rather than those passing through a space. I recently has an opportunity to try it out with some friends at Exeter University and I quite possibly got the best reaction out of all my tests. They loved seeing what they would look like as their friends, as the masking made some of the faces fit in so well with the alternate bodies they sometimes couldn’t work out who’s face was where. Not being able to recognise your own face says quite a lot about altered representations and just how well my piece worked to achieve this. Theres something unnerving and disturbing about seeing someone else’s face placed and blended perfectly onto your head.