Augmented Ego is an immersive volumetric portrait where users explore how they see themselves and how machines see them. Created for a new evening series, Field of View: Mapping Emerging Media Technologies, Augmented Ego was created as a temporary installation in The Exploratorium’s Black Box media installation space.
Augmented Ego acts as projected mirror; visitors discover their bodies projected on an ethereal screen in layers of light and shape. The projections are portraits, but not straightforward representations. The images seem to reflect different moods or perceptions of the computer; they interact and morph, reacting to the visitors’ movements in unpredictable ways.
As Augmented Ego cycles through different moods or “spaces,” we think of each space as a playful, perceptual puzzle. Visitors are challenged to figure out how the computer is perceiving them. By experimenting with motion, position, and speed, they can learn what the computer is seeing and not seeing. For example, one space will only show objects that are perfectly still, while another space rewards rapid movement.
The project went through several iterations, starting in a small office and then being almost completely reworked for the 800-square foot Black Box space. After designing the space, we invited several groups to test the interactions. Reacting to an open digital environment is different for everyone. From their feedback we learned and adjusted the different Augmented Ego behaviors to make new interactions that were the most fascinating and engaging, sparking both curiosity and pure delight.