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Smart House/ Dumb Interactivity



I started experimenting with morphing objects in 2002 as part of my video performance work Smart House/ Dumb Interactivity. Smart House/ Dumb Interactivity is the theme of my Masters’ Thesis which I recently completed at NYU. The thesis is in two parts; a 40 page theoretical paper and a video performance. The paper can be downloaded as a pdf from paper The video can be viewed via quicktime streaming here videoThe idea in part came from a notion that in the future a smart house would be self-cleaning. When the owner was not at home the house would begin a cleaning cycle where it would move the furniture around, dust, straighten and arrange all the objects, pictures etc. in the home and have the place spic and span when the owner returned. One of the oft repeated complaints of any homemaker is that their cleaning person tears through their home leaving everything askew or putting things back in places where they don’t belong. Assuming that a marketing person and an engineer would get together to solve this complaint for the self cleaning home, I thought about how one might teach a home to return the objects to their rightful place after cleaning. I imagined that a simple set of webcams and mapping software would accomplish this. All the Smart Home need do was take a snapshot before cleaning and moving the objects and furniture around and then later return the objects to their place using the snapshot and image map as a guide.
This presented an interesting variation to my mind. What if one could couple interior design software to the smart house cleaning program. The owner could then program rearranging the furniture, rehanging the pictures and so on in different configurations so that after each cleaning the home would present a different domestic tableau. In order to represent that notion in my dvd of Smart House in did a short piece using a simple morphing program. I took a photo of objects in disarray on my bedside table then I carefully cleaned every one and arranged them in an orderly and artful composition somewhat in the manner in a genre painting. I then took a photo of the two and made a short video showing the morph process. One sometimes sees this sort of before and after morph used in home improvement or decorating shows on television. However they tend to issue from a product sales point of view. What I had done was to apply the techniques I learned in art school when composing a still life. My morphs have a deep sense of the compositional processes used in painting and photography, film, set design etc. In other words they are informed by an artist’s eye.