La Funambule Virtuelle by Michel Bret and Marie-Helene Tramus
A PC computer, Pentium 1.5 GHz, 512 MB of memory, disk 6 GB
System Windows 2000
sensor “Polhemus” ISOTRACK II, or sensor “ITRAX”
A video projector 1000 lumens
A screen of about 2 meters by 2 meters
La funambule, or The Tightrope, is an interactive installation by Michel Bret and Marie-Helene Tramus. A screen displaying a tightrope walker is affected by motion sensors that respond to a participant standing directly in front of the piece. The tightrope in the projection extends down toward the center of the screen and to a line on the floor, inviting visitors to step onto the tightrope with the tightrope walker. However, when they do, the dance of interactivity ensues. The tightrope walker is unbalanced, forcing our virtual friend to correct itself in order to stay aloft. Any movement by the participant is reflected on screen, moving the tightrope and in turn affecting the tightrope walker. Special programming allows for virtual ‘learning’ of the program, keeping the walker from falling no matter how the rope is disturbed. Generally the tightrope walker strives to copy the posture of the participant to achieve balance. Though very basic, this form of artificial intelligence gives our character a plethora of responses to interactions that haven’t been directly programmed into the system, but instead learned, or adapted, based on interactions with the participant. (1)
Centralizing around an idea of balance and imbalance, the piece is more than just interaction with a program for the sake of interaction. The artists instead proposed that this is a dance between two people, giving this piece a more symbolic nature, dealing with human relationships, with action and reaction. There is a delicate relationship between the program and the user, and every move on one end affects the other.
Cube, “”La funambule” Michel Bret et Marie-Hélène Tramus.” Last
modified 2002. Accessed February 1, 2012.