Membrain by Yasser Ansari, Peter Horvath and Bruno Kruse was one of my favorite pieces at the IPT Winter Show 2008. I was really interested in the way it worked, and Yasser offered to email me more information about the piece. Thanks Yasser!
membrain explores the idea of a collective memory and challenges the traditionally separate notions of the past and present. membrain constructs a reality that is based simultaneously on the past and present experiences of a group.
How the piece works:
At the center of the membrain project is a live video display and an interactive object representing a communal brain. Observers interact with the communal brain through proximity and touch while the live video display shows what the brain is seeing. In its default state, the brain is constantly scanning for people and possible social interactions. Once the brain detects presence, a series of carefully scripted events take place. As observers approach, the brain will begin to glow brighter. When an observer touches the brain, the brain achieves full brightness and the video display will zoom into the individual pixels that are being used to construct the live video. These pixels are all previous images captured by the brain. If the interaction is sustained and a face is detected for longer than a few seconds, a new snapshot is taken and added as a memory. This memory becomes part of the communal or collective memory. Once the snapshot is taken and added to the collective memory, observers will be able to view the most recent image by touching the brain and zooming in. The video will zoom back out as the observer moves away. Once the observer walks away, the brain will fall back to its dimly lit state awaiting further interaction.