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Your Destiny

Your Destiny is an immersive, interactive installation based on tarot cards. When the audience comes into the room, they first see a projection of the backside of the tarot cards on the screen. A camera recognizes the visitor’s movements. When the visitor stands in front of the camera, tarot cardYour Destinys will flip over in the shape of the visitor’s silhouette, revealing the front of the tarot cards. A pre-recorded voice will be heard by the audience as the tarot cards are displayed, voicing the symbolic meaning of each revealed card. As the visitor moves and creates new silhouettes, a new display of front facing tarot cards and voices are revealed.

Through programming, this work responds to the viewer’s movements and form and shows the digital image randomly and vertically within their figure on the screen. It allows visitors various possibilities of interaction through image, animation, and sound. The audience can enjoy colorful and varied visualizations as a result of their movement.

In this project, the main theme is the use of tarot cards as a visual. My tarot deck has been designed and reinterpreted in a modern photomontage style. Fot these photomontage tarot cards, i have taken pictures of models to represent the characters in the tarot card deck, and photos of New York for the background.” [1]

The inspiration for this work comes from the book, “The Castle of Crossed Destinies” by Italo Calvino [link]. It is said that we would like to be able to see our destinies. In many parts of the world, tarot cards are used as a tool to see into the future. Even though some parts of our destiny are pre-determined, in my opinion, we can manipulate other parts. Moreover, one person’s destiny is mixed with the destiny of others. We can make a new destiny as we can change the tarot by our own movement.” [1]

The idea of motion tracking using a video camera has been around a couple of decades, and researched in a field known as “Computer Vision”. Historically, Myron Kreuger created some of the first body interaction based camera in design field. He used the computer and a camera to create a real-time relationship between the participants’ movements and the environment. His project, Video Place (1974, see linked entry) coordinated the movement of a graphic element with the actions of the audiences. [2]  

Your Destiny uses a camera to feed the input into a computer, which in turn processes the image data into cells, detecting and processing the color value of each cell. Each cell is assigned a random tarot card. Differences in the color value of the cell determine whether a card will be flipped or not. The data is sent to the projector and shown as tarot cards on the screen. A similar technique is used in Daniel Rozin’s Wooden Mirror (1999, see linked entry) [3]. The process that is used for these artworks was allready envisioned by Myron Krueger in 1977. In Responsive Environments he describes it as follows: “The environments described suggest a new art medium based on commitment to real-time interaction between men and machines. The medium is comprised of sensing [motion tracking], display [projection] and control systems [computer software]. It accepts inputs from or about the participant and then outputs in a way he can recognize as corresponding to his behavior. The relationship between inputs and outputs is arbitrary and variable, allowing the artist to intervene between the participants’ actions and the results perceived.” [4] In the case of Your Destiny, Kwon intervenes by converting the input into cells and assigning them with tarot cards.

Jieun Kwon wrote a paper (Your destiny: dynamic interactive installation for digital Gesamtkunstwerk) on her installation and the techniques she used. If you have an ACM Web Account you can download her paper here.

Your Destiny was exhibited at the 404 Festival in 2008.

More information about the artwork can be found here (Artwork #4) and in Kwon’s paper.



[1] Jieun Kwon on 404 Festival <> (artwork #4)

[2] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p.44 & p.166

[3] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 31

[4] Kreuger, excerpted in Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 258