Category Archives: Structured light

Il y a


Il y a

The IL Y A double-sided video, 12-channel sound installation, mixes live video from its two sides so you see through its opaque wall as if it were a glass window. IL Y A transforms what you see of the other side: your gesture transmutes the other, conjures the other’s body. Your movement distends what you see of the other side like smoke or other pseudo-physical material. The effect is symmetrical – any movement by the other reshapes your image as well. Over time, the behavior of the installation changes through a field of behaviors staged by the composer, according also to the activities of its visitors.

Figures from the past appear in place of visitors who leave the opposite side, and their movements transmute your image as yours transmutes theirs, via real-time calligraphic video and sound effects. Moving bodies from the past act on your image just as you act on theirs. Since the effect is symmetrical, the living self and its historical or present others can play with the forms of each other’s bodies with equal power. When no one at all is in the room, the membrane mixes documentary footage of the populated site, in testimony to that place’s historical past.


Portable and re-usable with video footage referencing the local site’s history, IL Y A is designed to be installed in museums and galleries as well as community spaces or former industrial sites, localized with images from the sites’ historical archive. IL Y A acts as a lens into past as well as the present of the given site, and explores how the past can entangle the living present, or how living bodies entangle each other.



This double-sided video screen, with 12 audio channels and 2 cameras, is designed for museum and gallery exhibition. The physical installation, designed by Scott Minneman, is a rigid, opaque board mounted in a rigid aluminum frame, with 5’ x 7’ footprint, and 8’6” height. Each side has one video projector beaming an image onto that side. The projector clears the head of any visitor.

It’s weight (excluding computer gear in flight cases) is 200 lbs, and can be shipped in a wheeled, wooden crate: 88″ x 39″ x 74″ tall. (Total shipping weight: about 400 lbs.)


Sha Xin Wei, artistic direction, programming
Harry Smoak, technical direction & installation support
Jean-Sebastien Rousseau, visual programming (2010)
Tyr Umbach, visual programming (2011)
Michael Fortin, computer graphics, physics (2009-2012)
Navid Navab, realtime sound
Julian Stein, realtime sound

Thanks also to Freida Abtan, Erik Conrad, Delphine Nain, Yoichiro Serita


FQRC Fonds de rechereche sur la societé et la culture.




Palpation — the laying of a hand on the body to read its state of health — is perhaps the oldest of medical practices. When a physician lays her hand on her patient, however, she is not only reading or diagnosing the patient, she is saying to the patient: “You are my responsibility. I take you into my care.” This touch ethically entangles the physician and the patient.

Speech too is an ethical medium — words spoken can warm three winters or chill three summers, the Chinese say. Under western law, some words can be fighting words, and those who wield language with malice can be charged as if they had hit the victim with their hand.


So ethics comes back to touch.

The choreography in Act 1 is inspired by thinking of two dancers in a chamber as being transformed from one hermaphrodite body into two. The chamber, viewed from above presents an alchemical vessel within which the hermaphrodite, compound body twitches and coils in a fluid medium until it splits into two independent bodies. The energy and momentum of their movement swirls the visual media between the bodies: negative space is itself pregnant with ethical charge, visualized as textures and particles in the gaps between the bodies, rippling in the wake of the dancers’ gestures.

This epochal fission is also the birth of desire, of sexual love, as Aristophanes famously described in Plato’s Symposium, and marks the transition between Act 1, an intimate epoch, and Act 2, our epoch, in which we find ourselves as isolate bodies in a void, seeking one another via the much sparser tissues of language and sign.

Act 2 is shot outdoors. The dancer who emerges shows traces of energetic, now erotic, entanglement with her distant partner. She discovers a (male) dancer already in an open field. The textures and particles trailing behind her lead back to an implied third being, the dancer from Act 1 who remains hidden as the first dancer evolves through her sequence of more and more passionate, elaborated movement with the discovered dancer. We use the word passion in its ancient sense of a primordial force below the level of emotions. The first dancer is multiplied by temporal copies of herself, and plays contrapuntally with her own delayed selves as well as with the other dancers.

This second act closes with the fusion of the dancer with her multiples and the emergence of the hidden dancer as an authentic other.


PEOPLE: Sha Xin Wei, Soo-yeon Cho, Desh Fernando
+ Topological Media Lab
TOUCH 2 a performance :Soo-yeon Cho, Kiani de Valle
Set: Topological Media Lab
Remedios Terrarium




O4 – From 2008-2013,the research strand for shaping a responsive environment’s media response to inhabitant activity has evolved into a greatly refined and much more powerful software system: the OZONE media choreography framework.

This system allows:

(a) the reading of arbitrary configurations of sensors (including cameras and microphones, but also any array of physical sensors that can be interfaced to a computer through serial inputs);

(b) feature extraction in realtime;

(c) continuous evolution of behavior and orchestration;

(d) mappings to networks of video synthesis computers, realtime sound synthesis computers, theatrical lighting systems, or any electronically or digitally controllable system. (We have controlled for example, household fans and lamps, networks of small commercial toys and LED’s.) In brief the system uses pattern recognition on motion-capture data, to animate and mix the motions of virtual puppets, model-free learning using methods from partial differential equations, and computational physics of lattices and dynamical systems.








The Ozone media choreography system factors into the following set of software abstractions: (1) sensor input conditioning, (2) simple statistics, (3) continuous state engine for behavior of the media engines, (4) realtime video re-synthesis instruments, (5) realtime sound re-synthesis instruments, (6) animation interfaces to other protocols, such as DMX, custom LED networks, and actuators. The implementation framework is Max/MSP/Jitter, with substantial extensions to custom computational physics, computer vision, and other methods.


Sha Xin Wei, system architecture, experiment design, media choreography
Navid Navab, realtime sound
Julian Stein, realtime lighting
Evan Montpellier, visual programming, state engine


Harry Smoak, media choreography, lighting, experiment design

Michael Fortin, computational fluid dynamics and video

Morgan Sutherland, state engine, sensor fusion, media choreography, project management

Tyr Umbach, realtime video, state engine

Tim Sutton, realtime sound

Jean-Sebastien Rousseau, realtime video

Delphine Nain, computational fluid dynamics and video
Yon Visell, Emmanuel Thivierge, state engine




Based on previous work with Meteor Shower, Cosmicomics presents a fantastical sky animated by a fusion of lunar dreams inspired by Italo Calvino’s eponymous novel, and by the quantum inflationary cosmology created by Andre Linde. A large ceiling-mounted display (three plasma displays or a projected screen) opens a window into a fable of a cosmos, filled with liquid light and sound that dance to movement, epoch, and the alchemical condition of the Moon.

Cosmicomics was presented at Elektra 9-13 May 2007, Montreal.



1 tracking camera
3 tiled plasma screens
Video processing computer
Sound processing computer

Camera-based tracking, motion-feature extraction, media choreography state engine, realtime sound processing, realtime video processing.


Sha Xin Wei – Director, Art Concept
Harry Smoak – Director of production, creative advisor
Jean-Sébastien Rousseau – Video design and Max/Jitter OpenGL programming, Models and special effects video
Timothy Sutton – Sound design and Max/MSP programming

Emmanuel Thivierge – State engine programming, Camera feature extraction
Josée-Anne Drolet – Project Coordinator, Models and special effects video

Olfa Driss – Research, Models and special effects video
Michael Fortin – Graphics programming, OpenGL and optimization