Project description

Kimchi and Chips present their new work, SWAP PLACES, at CYNETART, 2011.

Swap Places is a digital media installation which couples 3D scanning with progressive projection techniques. Visitors can step into a dynamic field of light which actively responds to match their defined shape and react to the gestures of the visitors.

The project evolved in response to the ‘Networking Tomorrow’s Art for an Unknown Future’ commission, launched by the ECAS festival network. The commission enables projects which respond to the theme ‘Festival as lab,’ and works which respond to the canvas of the festival setting. The commission focuses on evolving and experimental projects, particularly those that present a new type of art object, technology or form of participation, and those that have not yet been fully realised.

Kimchi and Chips artistic inquiry looks into new ways of storytelling, especially through the development of techniques which augment the real world and humans using technology. This leads to the development of new tools which they make freely available, and are designed in general to use low cost, every day hardware.

Swap Places began with the ‘Kinect Hadouken’ presentation. This work, made popular through blog sites such as Wired, Engadget, and Create Digital Motion, demonstrated a virtual light acting on real world, 3D objects, by manually applying illumination onto objects using a video projector. This involved dynamically scanning the scene in 3D, calculating the illumination based on the position and angle of the surface elements, and then re-projecting the calculated illumination pattern using a video projector.

When we see an object, we can imagine both its texture, something about the light being cast onto it. By overriding what we see when we look at an object with projector light, we can superimpose artificial surface properties, create virtual light sources, and even warp the apparent shape of the object.

Kinect Hadouken sparked public imagination, and through the ECAS commission, Kimchi and Chips were given the opportunity to develop the concept further. SWAP PLACES is the first concrete attempt to bring the technology Kimchi and Chips researched into a coherent, participatory experience for audiences. The commission will enable audiences to experience the technology acting on themselves, within the playful, open-minded and forward-thinking environment of a festival.

The project responds to the Festival As Lab thematic, engaging audiences in new ways of thinking and seeing themselves and their surroundings. Premiering at CYNETART, in November 2011, SWAP PLACES will then feature at CTM (Berlin) and FutureEverything (Manchester), before moving on to tour across other E.C.A.S festivals. The work is in a continuous state of evolvution, and will be informed by the audiences who experience it. A set of snapshots of this research will be presented at the different festivals. Furthermore, the development process and results can be tracked and downloaded from Github through the process at (https://github.com/elliotwoods/Swap-Places).


This evolution of capturing and analysing audience response is working towards the development of a wider-scale, more immersive realisation of SWAP PLACES. The idea looks to incorporate a set of dancers, along with larger numbers of audience members, creating an experience within a performance or club-night setting. It is a work in progress, open to influence from other artists, musicians, curators and festivals.

SWAP PLACES//Project Description

SWAP PLACES is a digital media installation, comprising three large mirrors, two projectors and two Kinect 3D cameras. SWAP PLACES couples 3D scanning with progressive projection techniques. A system dynamically scans the surfaces within a space, and re-projects calculated patterns of light back onto them. The real world therefore becomes augmented to reflect the computer’s imagination.

Visitors can step into this light field, and swap their own geometry with a digital image of themselves. By looking naturally at their own body, visitors see their skin, limbs and shape superimposed with an intricate pattern of light created by the machine in order to deceive and indicate. In this way, visitors swap the place that they are in with another space, and swap their known image of themselves with an imaginary reflection.

Edges and surfaces fizz as the limitations of real and virtual interfere with each other. Visitors view and cause this battle of realities, and can discover specific new capabilities.

The project intends to evolve through experimentation and new ideas. It works towards a new interactive medium and an unfamiliar experience for festival attendees, inviting them to challenge perceptions of reality and digital enhancement, beyond that which can be offered by devices. In SWAP PLACES, the human body becomes a canvas, replaced by our ‘digital’ selves, as seen by the machine.

Once a human is recognised there are a number of different experiences, witnessed in large mirrors. We see ourselves as digital – pixellated, restricted, and enabled. Then we can interact with this digital projection, move, share light, rub our arm and watch as it transforms.

This is a unique experience, and one which perfectly exploits the environment of a festival.


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