Jee Won Kim

'Sight' is an interactive art installation that asks its viewers to reflect upon what it means to be looked at.

The work consists of a form built of animal fat that is changed by the movement and gaze of each viewer- thus setting up a conversation about how the public's gaze shapes each individual body.

Michel Foucault's 'Abnormal' made me to be interested in what have been constituting our perception on abnormal and normal bodies historically, culturally, judicially, and medically.
I wanted the 'gaze' to be the main interaction for this installation piece because I thought it can look very subtle and passive but it can also imply so many meanings. So I researched various eye detection technologies and I found open-sourced eye detection example MaxMsp patch by artist, Jean-Marc Pelletier. It was a perfect tool for me since I am familiar with the MaxMsp software.
MaxMsp's cv.jit is a collection of max/msp/jitter tools for computer vision applications. The goals of this project are to provide externals and abstractions to assist users in tasks such as image segmentation, shape and gesture recognition, motion tracking, etc. as well as to provide educational tools that outline the basics of computer vision techniques.

I believe that this work can be almost universal because everyone has a body. But for the work itself, I wish and believe it to be dwelling in the contemporary contexts (contemporary art museums and galleries).

User Scenario
A sculpture is placed on a pedestal in an empty white space. One or more viewers come close and look at the sculpture. The sculpture detects eyes from the viewers and the sculpture starts to melt when 2-3 seconds of gaze is detected. When eyes are not detected, the sculpture stops to melt.

The work consists of a sculpture, a webcam, programming software (MaxMsp) that detects specific gazes from the audience, and a programmed electronic circuit board.

A webcam embedded in a sculpture made out of animal fat detects any 'looking' from audience for 2-3 seconds—these 2-3 seconds represent 'intentional gaze' in that they last longer than a passing glance. The webcam can see 90 degrees wide and can start to detect when eyes are about 3 feet close to it. When this specific intentional gaze from public is detected, the sculpture, which represents an individual body, starts to melt. When any gaze is not detected, the sculpture stops melting. The sculpture is melted when hot wire (inside the sculpture) is triggered on or off by the MaxMsp software program and the commanding electronic circuit. As the sculpture is 'being looked at' constantly, it melts and continues to be deformed. It is a collective, participatory experience for audience. The sculpture is hand-molded by me before every installation.

Conceptually, my material choice brought many active reactions, both positive and negative, from people. At one of the artists' critique, some people felt very uncomfortable by the fact that I am using animal fat, representing it as a body, and melting it in front of viewers' eyes. However, from another critique from guest artist critique, some appreciated the visceral choice (choosing lard) with other technologies. Overall, it was a complete mixed views from people and I thought it was very interesting so I concluded that I cannot satisfy everyone and I should be firm with what message I am presenting to audience as an artist.