– haptic, augmented
Feeling Absence is an interactive installation that
allows visitors to feel real shadows through touch.
It explores enhancing the perception of reality
with additional sensory modalities.
Shadows are an absence of light. Created by
objects blocking the light, they disappear once
an object is taken away or the light is turned off.
Although immaterial, the shadows nevertheless
are an important part of the material world. They
are everywhere. They belong to objects and are
attached to them: they move whenever the object
casting the shadow moves.
Can shadows become material objects in themselves?
Can we add materiality to shadows and
let people feel them through touch? Would they
become even more real? Can we disconnect shadows
from the objects that create them; make them
exist independently and persistently?
The Feeling Absence installation consists of a
table and two opposing chairs in a dark room.
The table is brightly lit so that objects placed on
the table cast prominent hard shadows on its surface.
Once the visitors take a seat on one of the
instrumented chairs they can touch and feel the
shadows that are cast on the table.
The visitors can create shadows by using objects
provided in the Feeling Absence installation but
they also can create shadows by using their bodies
and personal artifacts, such as accessories
or mobile phones. As soon as they slide their
fingers across those shadows they would feel
prominent tactile textures on the smooth table
surface. The tactile feedback is produced using a
novel tactile feedback technology, called electrovibraiton
that we describe later. Thus, in the Feeling
Absence installation, the shadows gain a materiality
and can be experienced and explored through
touch, just like 'real' objects.
This project was created at Disney Research Pittsburgh together with Olivier Bau and Ivan Poupyrev.