inSight: The Prehistory of Homo Interscient

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While the daily routine of archaeologists is dealing with antiques, we are nonetheless amazed by the genius of our forefathers from time to time, and are shocked by the social impacts of their inventions. After all, what we treat as artifacts were once the most cutting-edge technologies. Since the dust raised by them has already settled, we may learn from what has happened in order to predict how technology will affect human beings in the future.

Today we are super excited to introduce our newest discovery, which will fill a long-existing gap in the prehistory. As we all know, the continuously recorded history starts after the Total War, and before the war, there existed two kinds of human beings—homo interscient, which is us, and homo sapiens, our ancestor. It might not be easy for us to imagine that the homo sapiens cannot really know each other's mind. For us, thinking together with other people equals to exchanging ideas with them. For the homo sapiens, however, thinking is one thing, while informing other people is another. In order to exchange ideas, it seems that they mainly relied on very primitive methods, such as modulate their voice to carry information with data rates as low as several bits per second. Not only did they have inefficient ways to communicate within their species, but they also lacked the solidarity which might have helped us in defeating them in the war.

Nonetheless, it was the homo sapiens who invented us, the homo interscient. We already know that mind communication was treated by them as a scientific and technological breakthrough. And we also know that once there was a first community of people like us, they immediately saw themselves a different kind of human than the old species. So did homo sapiens. Accumulated enmity between the two species eventually led to the outbreak of the Total War, and apparently, we won it, admittedly with a heavy loss. The destruction was so severe that most of the historical records before our current era got lost, so that people have no way to know the details of the prehistory, and can only rely on archaeological discoveries.

The video clip we recovered recently is an significant breakthrough in knowing the early days of the homo interscient. It suggests an answer to an eye-catching question—how was the interscient technology adopted in its early age? As the video (which is a commercial advertisement) shows, the technology was first promoted as a consumer product named inSight. The manufacturer carefully chose a minimal set of interscient applications (or maybe that actually is how much they were able to offer on that stage), and advertised the technology as an augmentation to people's lifestyle. This seeming harmlessness might facilitated the early adoption. And once there was a solid community of adopters, the trend could never be stopped.

—Weili, Tyler, and Lama

(inSight: The Prehistory of Homo Interscient is a collaboration among SHI Weili, Tyler HENRY, and Lama SHEHADEH.)

Frankenstein's Frankenstein

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In this production of Frankenstein, the team experimented with several digital technologies in order to bring about an immersive theatrical experience.

Two projectors were used simultaneously. The first projector threw huge ambient images (fire, thunder, etc) onto the backdrop to set the keynote. This background image, together with the actors, was then captured by a webcam and sent to VDMX, where the projections were controlled. Before the captured image was sent to the second projector, its brightness and saturation were respectively mapped from the direction of the forearms of the two actors, which was captured by the Myo armbands. Therefore, not only would there be multiple overlaying images of the actors and the stage, but also that the attributes of this visual environment were responsive to the arm movement of the actors, which is a simple but effective indicator of the emotion of the characters.

In the end of the play, after killing its creator, the monster of Frankenstein began to vomit, indicating that it was going to give birth to its next generation—an echo of the circular wording of the play's title.

(Project team: Christopher DAMEN, Mark PUNCHINSKY, Stephanie BEATTIE, SHI Weili, Michael GLEN, Kieun KIM, LIU Jiaqi)