Conference Paper

The Garden of Time: a tangible interactive video installation.

DOI: 10.1145/2148131.2148199 Conference: Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Tangible and Embedded Interaction 2012, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, February 19-22, 2012
Source: DBLP
ABSTRACT
In this paper we present the interactive video installation titled "The Garden of Time": a tangible interface designed specifically to emphasize the conceptual nature of the project and to provide a different and entertaining filmic experience to its users.

Full-text

Available from: Jorge C. S. Cardoso
The Garden of Time: a Tangible Interactive Video
Installation
Abstract
In this paper we present the interactive video
installation titled “The Garden of Time”: a tangible
interface designed specifically to emphasize the
conceptual nature of the project and to provide a
different and entertaining filmic experience to its users.
Keywords
Interactive video, tangible interface, filmic narrative
ACM Classification Keywords
H.5.2 [Information Interfaces and Presentation I.7]:
User Interfaces (D.2.2, H.1.2, I.3.6)
Introduction
The ”Garden of Time” is an interactive video installation
conceptually based on the short story “The Garden of
Forking Paths” [1] by Jorge Luís Borges.
Figure 1 - The installation
Copyright is held by the author/owner(s).
TEI 2012, Feb 19-22, 2012, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
ACM 978-1-4503-0541-9/11/08-09.
Jorge C. S. Cardoso
School of Arts/CITAR
Portuguese Catholic University
Rua Diogo Botelho 1327,
4169-005 Porto.
Portugal
jorgecardoso@ieee.org
Carlos Sena Caires
School of Arts/CITAR
Portuguese Catholic University
Rua Diogo Botelho 1327,
4169-005 Porto.
Portugal
ccaires@porto.ucp.pt
In order to create an engaging and
entertaining experience closely related
to the concept of piece, which was
based on the forking paths and on the
occurrence of divergence and
convergence of a story, we created a
custom tangible object for video
interaction in the form of a wooden
labyrinth. The object is a 3d labyrinth
built by stacking wooden cubes with
differently shaped paths. Some of
these cubes have forking paths that
introduce a level of randomness. The
labyrinth has one entry point and
three exits and dropping a marble in
the entry makes it go through one of
the three paths and come out on the
corresponding exit. Due to the forking
elements, the marble can traverse any
one of these three exits. A computer
running the videos triggers different
filmic segment based on which path
the marble takes.
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Concept - The Garden of the Forking Paths
This project is an homage to Borges’ short story and
tries to emphasize the hyper-textual and interactive
characteristics of the text. Borges’ story is a crime
fiction about the murder of Dr. Stephen Albert, a man
engaged in deciphering a mysterious book written by a
chinese governor Ts’ui Pên. The legend was that Ts’ui
n wanted to undertake two tasks: to write a vast and
intricate novel, and to build an equally vast and
intricate labyrinth. He died before completing his novel
and what he wrote made no sense and was seen as
”contradictory jumble of irresolute drafts”. The
labyrinth was never found either. Dr. Albert realized
that the novel represented both tasks: it was written in
the form of a labyrinth and that was why it seemed to
make no sense. The novel was a labyrinth that forked
in time, not space, describing a world where all possible
outcomes of an event occur, creating diverging paths
that can sometimes converge again.
Interactive narrative
”The Garden of Forking Paths” has been described as
the invention of the hypertext novel [2] and has been
the inspiration for many in the field of interactive fiction
[3, 4]. Our interactive video installation ”The Garden of
Time” is a micro-story that proposes a journey in time
to the multiple possibilities of a moment in our
character’s life. The protagonist in our story faces a
dilemma: to commit suicide or continue living. In one of
those moments, he assumes his destiny, in another he
tries to gain courage, in another still he gives up. It is
up to the spectator/interactor of the installation to find
out the possibilities of the filmic narrative (Figure 2).
Interaction is accomplished simply by dropping a
marble in the entry point of the wooden maze,
symbolizing a decision point for our character. Through
this interaction, and according to the paths traversed
by the marble in the maze, he will be able to watch the
unfolding of the multiple existing possibilities. The
installation is neither completely deterministic nor
completely random - just like in Ts’ui Pên’s book. At
each point in the narrative, each path triggers a
different video that moves the story forward but the
random factors that exist in the paths allow a more
open narrative and allow the participant to continually
find slightly different versions of the story. The
interaction object effectively constitutes a tangible user
interface [5]: users don’t interact with a computer,
they interact with a story about forking paths by
picking up and dropping physical marbles in a physical
labyrinth with forking paths. The 3d labyrinth provides
a very clear connection to the concept of the work and
it serves two interconnected objectives: it helps
understanding the artistic concept of the piece, and it
provides cues about the interactive behaviour of the
installation.
References
[1] J. L. Borges. Collected Fictions. Penguin, 1999.
[2] N. Wardrip-Fruin and N. Montfort. The New Media
Reader. The MIT Press, 20
[3] J. D. Bolter and M. Joyce. Hypertext and creative
writing. In Proceeding of the ACM conference on
Hypertext - HYPERTEXT ’87, pages 4150, NY, USA,
Nov. 1987. ACM Press.
[4] S. Moulthrop. Reading from the map: metonymy
and metaphor in the fiction of “Forking Paths”, pages
119132. MIT Press, Mar. 1991.
[5] B. Ullmer and H. Ishii. Emerging frameworks for
tangible user interfaces. IBM Systems Journal,
39(3):915931, July 2000.
Figure 2 - Forking paths in the
narrative.
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