Section Logo
Go BackGo Forward

Interactive Annual 16:

Body Collective

“If even for a brief moment, we have all fantasized about getting a tattoo. The design and interface of Body Collective retains a wonderful elegance that makes it easy to tap into that desire.” —Hilary Read

“A nice blend of design and technology, this experience does an excellent job of immersing the user in the content of the museum exhibit in a unique and wonderful way. Simple, yet engaging in its approach, it does one thing extremely well.” —Nikolai Cornell

Overview: This free-standing installation in the Portland Art Museum was deployed in concert with the museum’s exhibition Marking Portland: the Art of Tattoo. Integrated into an alcove adjacent to one of the museum’s busiest thoroughfares, this two-sided experience literally merges the community and the museum’s collection. On a large display on the inner side of the unit, visitors see themselves with details of artwork blended onto their likeness. After a few seconds an image is captured of the composite and added to the Body Collective collection. On the outer side of the unit, visitors can browse through thumbnails of every image captured since the exhibition opened.

  • • Proximity sensors on both sides of the kiosk facilitate gestural navigation of images and textures and the collection side has a Point Gray Chameleon digital camera to composite high-res video in real-time.
  • • Images are collected by the kiosk automatically; as long as someone is standing in front of the installation the camera will continue to collect images at a set interval.
  • • The quantity of images is indeterminate and the system will continue to capture them with no limit to the number that can be collected.

Comments by Christian Bannister

What was the most challenging aspect of the project? “To hold on to the simplicity that we originally wanted for this project. From day one, we envisioned this project as something completely intuitive and gestural, and we wanted to see how far we could get without adding any user interface, complex layered navigation or explicit instructions. It was difficult to convince the team internally and the client that the audience would get what was going on without having it spelled out with text and interface buttons.”

Is the audience you were targeting a particularly difficult one to reach? “Normally this demographic can be difficult to reach, but in this case we were not asking people to do anything more than stand in front of a screen as if it were a mirror. The whole project seemed like a great idea from the start.”

Did you use any applications that you hadn’t used before? “We developed this project using VVVV, a visual programming interface. It turned out to be a great choice, but we had no prior experience with this technology so there was a fairly steep learning curve.”

How did this project compare with others you’ve worked on in the past? “It was more guerrilla than any other project I’ve worked on in my professional career. It was a pro-bono project and there was no budget, and everything we were doing with technology was new to all of us.”


Christian Bannister, lead designer
Vance Feldman, developer
Matt Arnold, hardware developer
Thomas Wester, technology director
Rebecca Rosen, production artist
Elizabeth Bourke, quality assurance
Second Story Interactive Studios (Portland, OR), project design and development
Portland Art Museum, client

Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn