Artificial Changelings

Toni Dove

Artificial Changelings , ongoing
Co-workers & Funding
produced in association with the Australian Film Commission and assisted by the Commonwealth Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body
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  • Artificial Changelings, Performance Diagram
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A romance thriller about shopping, Artificial Changelings is presented as an installation in which one person at a time uses body movement to interact with sound and images. Viewers can take turns either as particpants or spectators. The story opens in Paris at the end of the 19th century and travels to an unnamed future through interactions with two female characters. Artificial Changelings brings the movie off the screen and into the room inviting viewers to engage with characters in an immersive environment. It is rich with multi-layered imagery and has a stunning score by composer Peter Scherer.

Artificial Changelings begins with Arathusa, a kleptomaniac and an ecstatic dreamer, who suffers the constraints of Victorian society. The thrill she receives from stealing is erotic. She dreams of Zilith, a woman of the future, who is both real and imagined. Zilith is an encryption hacker searching for invisible enemies and drowning from lack of focus in a futuristic landscape. She is also a dreamer - and a voyeur obsessed with power. Each woman meets a man who will play a greater role in the next part of the trilogy. Artificial Changelings is a unique statement on how consumer economy, from the Industrial Revloution to the present, shapes identity.

Artificial Changelings debuted in '98 at the Rotterdam Film Festival. It was part of the exhibition Body Mécanique at the Wexner Center for the Arts, was a solo exhibition in 2000 at the Institute for Studies in the Arts at Arizona State University in conjunction with the International Performance Studies Conference and was in the exhibition "Wired" at the Arts Center for the Capital Region in Troy New York, 2000.
It was funded by grants from New York State Council on the Arts; New York Foundation for the Arts; The National Endowment for the Arts; Harvestworks, Inc.; Art Matters, Inc.; and the Eugene McDermott Award, M.I.T.

Interactive Structure and Technology - How it works
The installation consists of a large curved rear projection screen suspended in a room with four zones delineated on the floor in front and some chairs in the rear for a small audience. Non-interactive narrative sequences frame the experience at beginning and end. The body of the piece contains multiple segments that offer the audience an opportunity to have a responsive experience with the characters and environment.

As an audience member you step into a pool of light in front of the screen and enter the interactive zones. When close to the screen you are inside a character's head; back off and the character addresses you directly; back off again and you are in a trance or dream state; and back off once more and you enter a time tunnel that emerges in the other century. Within the zones, movement causes changes in the behavior of video and sound. There are body, speech and memory segments - each with different behaviors. The characters become like marionettes with unpredictable reactions based on the movement of the viewer in front of the screen. Body movement will dissolve images, shuttle forward and reverse on the time line, trigger frame loops, and change speed and color, as well as dissolve between segments and create superimpositions. Movement close to the screen will produce intimate revelations, close-up images and whispered sounds. Movement away from the screen will create memories clouded by layers of time, transparent images, and washes of sound. The sound environment and emotional tone of the piece are altered as well by the nature of a viewers' movements within each zone.

There is the possibility of moving back and forth between two centuries as if they were parallel realities suspended in a universe where time has no linear direction. The viewer does not change the narrative events, but develops a more immersive relationship with the characters and environment based on physical behavior. Different viewer responses will produce different aspects of content, emotional tone and information.
  • genres
    • installations
      • interactive installations
  • subjects
    • Body and Psychology
      • identity
    • Power and Politics
      • economy
    • Society and Culture
      • capitalism
      • consumption
  • technology
    • displays
      • electronic displays
    • interfaces
      • body sensors
      • interactive media
Technology & Material
Artificial Changelings is packaged in four road cases on castors.Combined weight approx. 1200 lbs. The collapsible curved rear projection screen, interactive floorpads, camera, lights and video projector with stand fill two cases. The remaining two rackmount cases contain the equipment. These cases are internally wired and the entire installation plugs into these cases which plug into the wall or a to a transformer depending on the country of exhibition. The exhibiting institution is requested to supply an NTSC monitor, a Power PC Macintosh RGB computer monitor, and one stereo amplifier that will drive stereo 15" woofers. Speakers like Apogee, Meyer Sound or equivalent are preferred brands. Also an 8 ft. pole for hanging lights (emc 1").

The rack cases include - 2 laser disk players, video switcher, computer with Sample Cell II and serial port card, DSP unit, mixer, midi interface, floor pad midi trigger unit, midi relay for lights, VNS System (video motion sensing).
Installation Requirements / Space
The room needs to be dark with at least an 11' ceiling, minimum about 15' wide and about 40' depth for rear projection and floor space in front of the screen (depth requirement may be altered somewhat by the use of a first surface mirror - width of the room needs to be greater in this case). It should be reasonably sound tight as the installation has a cinematic soundtrack.