I wasn’t very happy with the outcome of my midterm for Animals, which was an augmented reality print that used Unity to superimpose 3d emoticons over little cat drawings that I made. I had been thinking and reading about different cat experiments and the human obsession with animal intelligence. Many of the experiments try to determine how cat vision works, if cats have high level brain functions like object permanence and longterm memory and language skills. So I was interested in juxtaposing the language of those articles with a silly cat emoticon narrative and a less silly narrative for the real cats, represented by the drawings, being experimented on.
Unfortunately, it took me over a week to find a suitable AR environment to develop in. I had to settle on using ARToolKit with Unity, which required having these rather ugly large black squares. I actually that they fit the narrative in a certain way. I tried to make them resemble some of the vision charts used in cat experiments, but that tripped up the AR code. I also wanted to use images of cats, photographs of the experiments, but there wasn’t enough contrast in the photos, so I had to use simple black and white drawings.
Despite the shortcomings, I still got great feedback from the class. With the set up I had, the 3d text also didn’t totally come across at first, which was good to learn. I think the extrudes were to large, so they looked more like sculptural elements at first. Some people in class realized they were emoticons, and I think the connection between the subjective interpretation of cat emotions and the emoticons was made. The comment was made that both representations were abstractions, though the drawings were understood to be the objective representation. I hope to work more on this at some point, if I could get the AR working well in a hand held device or cell phone that would give the user a little more intimacy with the print and the 3d graphics. I would hope to eventually use the photographs, or maybe make drawings based on the photographs (I tried this but my rendering skills are more suited to little cartoon characters than realistic depictions of scenes with complex imagery…)