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project 1 // “i can’t possibly s*** here!”

For project 1: analogue, I decided to go with my toilet sorter idea. To quickly recap, I wanted to look into the psychology of how someone would pick a toilet cubicle, and the project made people pick dirty toilets as a show of “movement without the body being there”.

I felt that there was more to it than just movement, and that toilet-picking was really something that I find rather amusing, and tried to think about other ways that toilets were good representations of human behaviour.

I found this piece of work done by a Hong Kong artist, showing a similar versus system between Chinese and Hong Kong culture.

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As seen above, these are all comparisons between two countries, be it the way they write, behave on public transport, and well, use the toilet. It showed a lot of behavioural aspects between two countries just from simple illustrations, and I wanted to think about how by showing toilets instead, what kind of behaviour would people show and perceive these toilets?

My analogue project will basically look like this:

Two stacks of paper will be printed with different toilets. This will still work similarly to the project I have mentioned previously, where there will be an eventual “winner”. But along with this I have added an additional element.

Participants must do the following:

  1. Tear off the toilet cubicle they prefer.
  2. Flip to the other side where there is a quick survey.
  3. Give the reason for picking that toilet, and to also rate the toilet based on how satisfied they would be with using the toilet.
  4. Drop it into the box provided, so that I can collate the result winner of the day.

This not only gives participants a chance to pick, but also to reason why they picked their option. They also get to rate the toilet that they have picked, based on satisfaction, cleanliness, whatever they wish to rate it on. This is based off how we have little tablets in fancy toilets to rate how the cleanliness is like.

So why rate toilets that are already obviously dirty? While it is probably redundant to ask for a rating from toilets that are probably all inherently dirty, it would be to question the psychology of choice, and also, the paradox of choice.

The paradox of choice talks about having anxiety over too many choices. In fact, if you do research on the psychology of less choices, you get a lot of articles talking about how less is probably more. The reason why choice is always such an important thing, in marketing for example, is that it gives consumers the perceived control that they feel is necessary when making decisions. I thought it was a pretty interesting read into things, given that I was just mostly talking about toilets and their cubicles, but it reads into that as a question to participants: Which toilet would you pick? You only have two choices. But are either of these choices really worth it? Am I, as the person giving you the choice, really giving you a choice between the two? Is there a state of control? Are you really happy picking the toilet you have picked, when evidently, both are dirty? These questions can only really be answered by the individual, and probably based on their level of immersion and comfort.

Future You


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An interactive piece that I found interesting is “Future You” by Universal Everything. It is a digital interactive installation that “replicates” the human, into a sentient synthetic form. This form is mostly blob-like in nature, and whenever a different participant stands in front of the installation, the “reflection” changes, showing a new synthetic form, to represent this new participant.

While the installation is relatively simple in its interactivity, it converts one’s being to another form, giving one a sense of new, or uncanny identity. This can be perceived as a mask, or a projection of how one would be in the future.

The artwork is presented in Barbican’s AI: More Than Human exhibition, as the first thing that the public sees when they first enter. It acts as an introductory piece  to the exhibition that focuses on artificial intelligence and its predicted future, an interactive reflection of the future self. To me, the piece feels like a portal to a new future where one’s form is no longer “human”, but given a futuristic version of themselves to fit into this new world where AI might play a more important role than it does today.

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The screen acts as a mirror, the reflection  captured by a camera facing the participant. The camera detects various parts of the human body, and follows a rigging system attached to a variation of the reflection, then projected onto the screen. These reflections then mimic the visitor’s movements. These reflections start off as primitive, and then learn to adapt from the movements of visitors, creating a more “superior” version of themselves. Through this evolution, it generates a new visual response for each visitor, and apparently there are 47 000 variations.

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From what I have observed in the videos documenting audience feedback, many visitors were very interested in the project, as it was a very personal and unique experience to each and every one of them. A lot of them participated willingly through exaggerated body movement, children and adults alike.

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The given context made a huge difference to how the project would be perceived. As someone who was aware that the context of it was an installation in an exhibition about artificial intelligence, I perceive it as a piece of work questioning this identity of artificial intelligence as it mimics life. However, should it be placed in a different context, it could mean something else entirely, or simply not have any meaning attached to it, and just be fun-driven. The ability to interact with it in a space curated about artificial intelligence gives it a sense of importance and message, I feel, that cannot be replicated in a different environment.