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Intergalactic Immigration Station, 2015
A 3D scanning social practice project in a public square, CNC routed architectural capture station, 3D scanning equipment, two LCD displays, green alien costumes. Location: Schenley Plaza, Pittsburgh PA
Collaborators: Zhiwan Cheung, School of Art, Leah Wulfman, School of Architecture, Zach Rispoli, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University
For this collaborative performance project, Intergalactic Immigration Station, I directed a technology-engaged social practice intervention, based on the theme of an “intergalactic” version of the US Department of Homeland Security.
This project was selected and sponsored as part of a public arts festival, Open Engagement, founded by artist Jen Delos Reyes, an artist-led initiative committed to expanding the dialogue of socially engaged art. In 2014, the conference held an exhibition of public art projects throughout the city of Pittsburgh, PA.
Our collaborative team of performers and technologists invaded Schenley Park, outfitted in custom and campy green alien jumpsuits, inviting participants to enter a “futuristic volumetric capture structure”. Using 3D scanning technology and digitally fabricated CNC routed custom architecture, this social practice project commented on the questionable potential of new forms of facial recognition and biometric data capture.
The metaphor of the “alien” was
loosely employed to comment on the controversial context and problematic policies of the US immigration experience. Participants were invited to be scanned, to create a biometric 3D scan of their face. Each participant was also requested to answer standard demographic questions; as part of a critique of the invasive process of immigration.
Equal parts Artaud-inspired theatre and experiment in public volumetric capture, this piece provoked issues of how we trace and track human identity in the digital age, as the controversial potential of facial recognition technology becomes commonplace in public spaces.
Pop-up Volumetric Capture
Architect Leah Wulfman designed a modular structure for “pop-up” volumetric capture, composed of interconnecting CNC routed MDF, illuminated by silver paint.
The structure was designed to allow for multi-camera 3D scanning and capture. Once inside, individuals were able to be captured from multiple angles.
Conversations on Immigration
At the intake station, prior to being scanned, each participant was presented with the copious amount of paperwork required to partake in the immigration process.
The arduous paperwork process, alien to those who are already residents, illuminated the invasive complexity of immigration, creating a context where provocative conversations could occur.
3D Virtual Bio-Metric “IDs”
Collaborator Zach Rispoli developed custom software using “Open Frameworks” to rapidly modify each 3D scan. Our dataset of 3D models intentionally removed characteristics such as race, age, or gender.
Each 3D model, “alienated” from the original subject, commented on how the complexity of ethnicity and race should be carefully handled in the digital residue we create.