The objective of the ECHO experience is to generate empathy and connect people through shared identity and narrative. Situated inside a photo booth installation, using bespoke facial tracking/fragmentation software, the user is able to combine their facial features with a range of others, creating an avatar that they can animate with their own expressions. How do we feel when someone blinks with our eyes, smiles with our lips or speaks with our tongue?
Echo also experiments with ideas of empathy with narrative, creating a virtual mirror that enables the storyteller and viewer to merge as one. The participant is delivered another’s prerecorded personal story. As the on-screen narrator speaks a subtle slippage between you (the viewer) and the other occurs; the viewer’s face begins to imprint onto the narrator's face, merging your identity and experience in real time.
The experience is exciting, confronting and entirely immersive as the participant becomes the subject matter of the artwork. The AI protagonist of the experience, Echo, drives you through the journey from Empathy to Narcissism, from the deeply emotional to the avatar/selfie escape and play.
The first stage of Echo was developed as a 3 month artist residency project, commissioned by the Cube, QUT, creative Industries. The research project was completed at the end of April 2017 and was installed in the Cube for 5 days. In that time over 500 people interacted with the installation and became part of the ECHO archive community. Each participant took away a unique experience with them.