Wednesday, 14 October 2009

'Chameleon' by Tina Gosalves

'Chameleon is an interactive video installation that explores the subject of emotional contagion between groups and individuals and it stems from Tina Gonsalves' continuing fascination with human emotion, intimacy and vulnerability. '

Tina Gonsalves worked on the Chameleon project with various professors ranging from
Prof Rosalind Picard from Brighton and Sussex Medical School to social neuroscientist Prof Chris Frith; with all of these minds at her disposal she developed an algorithm that assessed peoples emotional state. This algorithm would then determine how the prerecorded actor's emotions would appear on the screens. The concept is based on emotions and how people often attempt mirror the emotions of the people around them, other aspects of the concept were around how people attempt to 'read' others by their emotions and how they react to the current surroundings.

Chameleon at Fabrica; eight to ten unframed squares hung from the ceiling, windows blocked out and the only light available was from the glares of the projections. Primarily I was very much intrigued and confused by these screens and how I saw other viewers reacting and staring into them. However I'm not sure if there were any technical problems or if this wasn't quite what was said to be delivered but after short experiments with each screen I noticed it didn't seem as if the actors inside the screens were reacting of their viewers. It seemed as if they were purely recordings with a slight aspect of chance to the order in which they were played but each actor would always end in the same reaction.

Only way I could see this being relevant or worthwhile would be if the cameras attached to the projections were recording the viewers faces and reactions and then all recordings of the viewers would be collected and then this collection would form art itself. Then it would be interesting to not just see the art create art but a combination of the art and the viewers creating the art. Also the experience was incredibly unnatural and awkward because inside a gallery emotions and facial expressions aren't a common and standard thing. So the viewer is forced into pulling faces in hope of a reaction.

In terms of display it did not live upto my expectations, it worked but i feel it could have been much more successful if the projections were larger and having six or so projections all focused on one viewer would result in the overwhelming aspect to the piece of art which could possibly spark emotions and reactions from the viewer.


  1. I feel that your response to "The Chameleon" shown at Fabrica is accurate. I attended the exhibition in hope of viewing work that responded to my emotions. It felt more like the cameras were merely sensing my presence and initiating the films to begin playing. I was disappointed, to say the least! Your idea that appears to interact with the audience as much, if not more, than "The Chameleon" claims to sounds very interesting indeed!

  2. hmm, maybe they weren't cameras?
    i would think that the idea of 'interactivity' may be something which is certainly there, but may not be 'all singing and dancing'. consider that we may interact in many ways and at many levels - all of these will be part of a number of issues - time, space, context etc - but mostly is something which is not passive and may not immediately satiate our cravings in the same way that wii tennis might.
    take a deep breath, stay calm and gently ease the brain into forward gear....................