Frontera v.2 by Lilia Perez Romero is an interactive portrait installation where visitors can play with their own reflections.  What is the reason for these electronic portrayals?  According to the artist, “In an age where a ruling paradigm regarding technological art is physical interactivity, it’s only natural that one of the oldest visual representation practices, that of portrayal, transforms accordingly. This fact has been acknowledged in literature and cinema, thus interactive portraits have become integrated into our image of the future. Frontera v.2, has been created within this scope of works and could represent a first approach towards realising what others have envisioned.” [1]

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In an earlier version, Frontera v.1, the responding image would be a stranger. After interacting with the portrayed stranger, Romero thought some visitors would problably like to become themselves part of the work by being portrayed. Therefore, Frontera v.2 has two important changed components: the video booth and the playback screen. The video booth creates interactive self-portraits of the watcher and shows it back on the playback screen. These playback images react on movement as if they were dissociated morror images. This works because of with real-time video manipulation in response to the user's actions. Technically speaking, this work is based on computer vision and motion tracking technologies. The video booth looks as a large photo booth that records video instead of taking pictures. When inside the booth, the user shows a set of movements in a game-like environment. In response, Frontera’s program will turn the resulting video sequences into an interactive portrait. After the recording session ends, the user can play with his image or allow others to do so. The videobooth is to Frontera’s interactive portrait what a camera is to photography. [2] [3]

Frontera v.2 has a resemblance to Interface from Peter Campus. Interface used closed loop video which is similar to the workings of the video booth in Frontera v. 2. Campus tried to explore questions of identity, self and perception in a intuitive, yet uneasy way. The artwork was set in a dark room with a video camera recording from one side of a transparant piece of glass while its recorded images were shown on another glass. Therefore, 2 images are reflected on the glass. Depending on where the watcher stands in the piece, the images will seperate or overlap, creating feelings of amusement and uncertainty. Frontera v.2 however uses the portrayals to physically interact with the visitor. Unlike Interface,  that has a looped video running, Frontera v.2 has an order in it’s artwork and uses a video booth in which the participant must makes some specific moves and when that ends, he moves on to the playback screen. Also, Interface is set up in a dark room, while this is not neccasary for Frontera v.2. [4]

David Rokeby talks about the mirror in his article Transforming Mirrors: Subjectivity and Control in Interactive Media. “We discover our ‘selves’ in the mirror of the universe. (...) The mirror is used as a technique of expression.” [5] Frontera v.2 however, might have taken this a bit more literal than Rokeby intended, as the artwork uses actual reflections to create movement.

 

Sources:

[1] Website Frontera

[2] Website Frontera

[3] Turbulence.org

[4] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 104

[5] Rokeby, "Transforming Mirrors..." in Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 223