Habitus is real-time projection mapping on people.

It was early 2014 when media artist Hanna Haaslahti contacted us for a project she had in mind. It would base on real-time projection mapping on people. This sounded so interesting that we immediately hopped onboard.

The key idea of the art installation was to transfer an ancient body paint concept from a Chilean Selknam tribe to modern day, using Gestalt laws of perception as a basis. The now extinct Selknam tribe used a particular style of body painting in their rituals, documented by Martín Gusinde. These shapes and patterns are naturally grouped by the human observer (The Laws of Organization in Perceptual Forms (1923) by Gestalt psychologist Max Wertheimer) and with this installation they can be seen projected on people, constantly changing.

The installation consists of two identical units. The units monitor a space between them and project light on people inside the area. The projections evolve during time and react to the movement of the people. When two or more people touch each other the system triggers a new evolution.

The result is interesting considering the fact that you as an observer are projected on to. To have a clue what is happening you don’t look at a screen – you look at yourself and others around you. This is a huge shift from traditional audience-screen setup.

The technology used in the installation, real-time projection mapping on people, can be extended to various use scenarios. Next step for us is to examine interactive dynamic illumination and design lighting on changing surfaces. That will be interesting!

Habitus installation is on display in Fields exhibition in Latvian National Arts Museum, Riga. The exhibition is open during May 15 – August 3, 2014.

Demonstrating Habitus at our office. Video by Hanna Haaslahti.