Interaction Laboratory: Sniff
On June 21st the exhibition Interaction Laboratory. The senses of machines (I/O/I) opens. Some of the artists have begun setting up their installations at the DHUB and we spoke with James George, who collaborated with artist Karolina Sobecka on the interactive piece Sniff about the piece and the interaction.
What is Snifff? How does it work?
Sniff is an interactive dog that that uses an technology called video tracking to follow the public and respond to their gestures. The idea is that he interacts with people and creates a relation with them. He decides who he follows, who he finds interesting....based on their movements, the amount of time the person is there, etc. He creates a friendly or aggressive relationship, depending on what they do, if they are friendly gestures or aggressvie gestures. The dog tries to figure out what the person is thinking about and the public also begins to wonder what the dog thinks of them.
How is Sniff related to the concept of interaction?
We program gestures, like for example the extension of the hand, that the dog interprets as a friendly gesture, but if for example, you move really quickly, he detects this as a negative thing. The dog accumulates positive and negative interaction and his behaviour is directly related to the feedback he receives.
How do design and interactive technology effect our lives?
Everyone has had experiences with design and technology, and it makes our lives easier. It can create confusion at times because in result in something sick on occasion. What we intend to do with interactivity, is to create something that is fun, create stories with this technology. Videogames and mobile phone applications also do this, but we try to create something more poetic, a link between technology and people. I don't know if this is how it effects our lives, but I like to think that they have this kind of effect.
What impact do you think interactivity will have on the future?
Interaction has a lot to do with the connectivity with the devices and systems with which we interact, software systems, logic systems or systems based on rules. The more we become accustomed to them, the more quickly they become normal. To think in this way, we become accustomed to logic thinking, based on rules, which does not occur with real people. Yes there are social rules but they are not black and white like the rules in technology. I imagine that it is most interesting when the systems are relatively complex, and Sniff is a good example of this, we made this thinking about you, that systems are becoming more complex everyday and that technology is thought about from the perspective of interact.
What happens when an object begins to think?
I think we first have to define what an object is because, really, it doesn't matter if it thinks or not, what is important is that we believe it thinks. It's more about the behaviour or the process, that which we think that it thinks, changes how we behave, we treat it as if it were a person and if it behaves as such, even though it is not, but it has emotional behavious, we empathize with that. We can begin to form emotional ties with them because if we think that an object can think or take action, even though we know it is not possible, we want to believ it and then we are interested in it. When you interact with an object, you are not only interacting with a programme, there is a very complex language that exists between you and the person or group that created it. In the future these kinds of relations could become more fluid than they are now, a time when a lot of people think of technology as something cold that creates distances between people.