Chris’s Hammock invites you to lay back, reach up to the sky, and let the clouds gravitate toward your hands as you drag them around in a playful, projected sky. When day turns into night, you can form your own constellations by repositioning twinkling stars.
This was created in Processing using the Microsoft Kinect. The sketch looks for new information entering the scene past a certain depth (in our case, anywhere above the users body), finds the coordinates of that new object (hands), and uses that as the attraction force to direct png’s of clouds or reposition the coordinates of stars.
Calli and I spent a lot of time discussing how we wanted to use the Kinect. We both agreed that we wanted to create an activity that made sense to use the Kinect. In other words, games that normally have tactile feedback were not satisfying to us. It didn’t make sense to use a Kinect to “bounce” a ball without an actual ball. As kids, we both spent days imagining clouds taking the shape of different animals and wishing that we could push stars around to form new constellation. This piece seemed like the most appropriate use of the Kinect. It also took on a more personal meaning as a tribute to Calli’s brother, who on a family trip to Turks and Caicos, was obsessed with all of the hammocks.
We still have some technical issues to work through before we reinstall. Repositioning the stars turned out to be trickier than expected. The way the sketch is currently running, if a star is inside a bounding box (aka, your hand is under it), that star is given the center coordinates of the bounding box. Unfortunately this means that if you’re dragging a star around and you pick up another the star, the two start drawing in the same location and it looks like one has disappeared. The longer you interact with the sky, the more likely it is that the stars are all drawing on top of one another, leaving the appearance of only two or three stars left.
Also, the phyiscal set up isn’t quite right yet. Obviously the more immersive the sky, the better, however the space constraints at ITP make it harder to go much bigger than what we’re already working with. We received critiques that the rigid square we’re projecting onto is distracting and it might be better to try a more abstract shape. The next time we set this up, we’re going try making a frame in the shape of a cloud and project onto that.
Lastly, particularly in the night sky, it’s hard to tell where your hand is (especially when you’re down to a few stars due to the problem mentioned earlier). The sketch needs to give users some feedback to let them know where there hand is at all times (and if it’s being seen at all). Currently, we have red bounding boxes but it’s quite an eyesore. Our class gave us the great suggestion to use the actual point cloud data of the hand from the Kinect and draw that in the sky. We are also looking at using nets and possibly a brighter/different colored star.
The best part about this project was that we were building an installation that was simulating a nice blue sky when outside, there was a actual real blue sky. =)