Artistic Considerations in the use of the EyeCon Motion Tracking System


EyeCon allows a variety of movement parameters to be used as "input" to the system:

In terms of output, the sky's the limit. A few examples which come to mind:

Here then is a sample mapping:

Each choice of mapping (the arrows) may have two directions of compliance /2/. That is, "more movement" may mean "more sound" -- but it can also mean "less sound". This may sound counterintuitive, but there are cases when it feels exactly right. For example, holding a shape -- what we dancers call a suspension -- may require a lot of energy. So although not moving, this moment might anyway be well represented by mapping "less motion" to "more sound".

Must mapping be intuitive? Of course not. But in practice it won't work very well otherwise. What we have found is that straying, even a little, from what "makes sense" on a feeling level, results in an outsider quickly looses the connection. It is harder than you think to follow these mappings, any mappings, even when you've had them explained! Therefore, I would advise to stay as intuitive as possible. "Boring" you say? No way! Believe me, there is still ample room for experimentation and surprises in and around this basic framework.

Indeed, as I look at the diagram above, it occurs to me that if all those things were happening at once, no one would have any idea what was going on! I actually can't think of a single situation when we used more than two mapping at one time. In an entire piece, we rarely employ more than three or four! We have made pieces with upwards of 250 Eyecon elements in them; this is not what I am talking about. The number of mappings -- the kinds of the parameters used -- are far more limited. Not because it would be technically difficult to do so. It wouldn't. The reason is simply that one very quickly comes up against the limits of what the inexperienced viewer can follow.

The arrows in the diagram above should also not be confused with something like "tracks" in a composition. You might think, well, in an orchestra you are not "aware" of what every individual instrument is playing either, and yet the complexity can be marvelous. In the case of an orchestra, however, there is at least mutual support! If you use too many mappings they will likely fight one another, and the result will be that no single one will be evident at all. In all likelihood, no single audience member will know that anything interactive has occurred. But like I say: don't take my word for it. Try it!

Making good mapping choices is really the "art" of using Eyecon. There are no simple rules. Bizarre combinations of parameters have produced stunning results. As I have emphasized already, sufficient clarity is the most common problem. Ways to raise clarity include:

And finally here's one that creates a stir:

Mappings may of course also be too simple. To lower the clarity, I recommend: