Over recent decades, modalities of interaction have developed beyond one-to-one sensor-actuator or button-link causal chains. This is a result of enhanced sensor technologies such as machine vision, enhanced computational power and application of increasingly sophisticated analysis and interpretation techniques. Research into autonomous agents, chatbots and virtual characters has opened the possibility for simulating personalities, for expression of desires based on stored and categorised data – accumulated ‘experience’. Sniff offers an interactor (or a group of interactors) the opportunity to interact with a projected image of a virtual dog which demonstrates a diversity of behaviors, the ability to distinguish between users, and to behave with respect to its previous experience with them. The system utilizes machine vision analysis of the user space, distinguishing users and making judgments about their postures and gestures. This information drives both the immediate animated behavior of Sniff (the dog) and its ongoing cumulative behavior. The simulated behaviors of Sniff allow engaging relationships to develop between humans and non-living but lifelike entities. This is a superficial, though satisfying aspect of the work. For thoughtful participants, the lifelike appearance and behaviours of the dog, supported as they are by sophisticated underlying procedures, promote consideration of issues in the philosophy of mind, such as the attribution of agency and mental states in others.
About the author
Poland native Karolina Sobecka works with interactivity, physical computing, video, animation, and other media. Her artistic interested is stimulated by advances in science and technology, and their repercussions in popular culture. She is interested in creating work that has meaning outside of art context and work that engages public space. Sobecka received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA from Calarts in Experimental Animation/Integrated Media. She has also studied and taught in the University of Washington’s Digital Arts and Experimental Media PhD program.
Sobecka’s work has been shown at festivals and galleries around the world, including ISEA, Interactivos, Trampoline Radiator Festival, Conflux Festival, New Forms Festival, FILE – Electronic Language International Festival, and New Media Meeting. She has received awards from Creative Capital, New York State Art Council, Princess Grace Foundation, the Platform International Animation Festival, and the Japan Media Arts Festival.