The observer finds himself in a museum environment, a framed picture hanging on a wall. Upon coming closer, the viewer notices that exactly the spot of the picture he is looking at is changing under his gaze.
Our motivation for this project was the fact that, at the end of the 1980s, people were still looking at the computer primarily as a tool and not as a medium. The painter exchanged his brush for the mouse, but he used it to do almost exactly the same things that he once did on an analog basis. For us this was art with computers, not the beginning of computer art.
With this installation we have thus tried to promote one of the most important media qualities of the computer, namely interactivity. By purpose we have chosen the traditional museum environment. Also by purpose the painting we used was chosen: «Boy with a child-drawing in his hand» by Francesco Carotto (Renaissance 1.0). This painting shows the first documented child-drawing in art history – an adequate metaphor for the state of computer-art at the early 1990s.
A «framed» flatscreen displays the painting. Behind this screen we installed an eyetracker (camera and PC). The camera is pointing at the viewers eyes. The camera-images are sent to the PC where they are digitized. The PC analyses the videosignal and locates the reflections of an infrared-lightsource in the viewers eyes. With this it can calculate exactly on which part of the painting the viewer is looking at. These positions are then sent to a graphic workstation where an algorithm is distorting the picture exactly at these coordinates. This means that as soon as a viewer looks at a particular part of the picture this part is distorted.
If no one looks at the picture for more than 30 seconds the picture is regenerated to its original condition.
In the past an old master might leave an impression in the mind of the passive onlooker – now the onlooker can leave an impression on the old master.