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The Changing Room – Displays of emotion by Lauren McCarthy

Created by Lauren McCarthy as part of the TRANSMIT³ Residency and presented by Ars Electronica and QUT, The Changing Room is a custom software installation and performance created for Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. The installation invites participants to browse and select one of hundreds of emotions, then evoking that emotion in them and everyone in the space through a layered environment of light, visuals, sound, text, and interaction exhibited over a multi-level, many-sided display.

Dealing with themes of surveillant architectures, social technologies, and smart homes, the installation simultaneously invades and cares for the emotions of passersby. Six networked “zones” or walls over two levels are controlled by a central software application built in Unity. The program monitors input from a series of microphones, cameras, and sensors distributed throughout the space, giving tailored directions to inhabitants of the space.

Upon entering the main space, you are confronted with the question, “Do you want to feel?”, and you are given the opportunity to select the emotion you’d like to experience. The Changing Room then gets to work trying to make everyone in the space feel that emotion as intensely as possible. People in the booths are confronted with a monolithic block that slides back and forth roulette style, randomly choosing a booth to light up with an instruction intended for that group. On the second floor, your body position is analyzed as you’re guided through a series of positions and contortions. The process of assuming the various positions is designed to evoke the emotion that’s been selected in the main space. In another zone, ambient sound and voices are picked up by a series of microphones distributed throughout the area and analyzed. Depending on the currently selected emotion, you are instructed to adapt yourself to “share your feelings”, “calm down”, or “express more joy”.

The Changing Room was created in collaboration with Sean Druitt, Ryan Bargiel, Allan Bishop, Samuel Collins, Daniel Fisher, Simon Harrison, Brian Jeffery, Nigel Oram, and the rest of the QUT Cube Team, and Andy Bates and Yu Kao. Performers included Viv Coburn, Brittany Hurkmans, Jacob Nye, Tiffany Symons, and Jackie Taylor.

Project PageLauren McCarthy