Water Poem is an interactive video installation. The audiences are encouraged to interact with the projector by simply moving it and project wherever they want. The projected content is texts coming from English website of 300 most famous ancient Chinese poems from Tang dynasty. Water Poem will search any sentence that contains the word “water” and randomly display each sentence based on a pre-designed condition. If the projector is not moved, the text will change in a random interval from 30 to 45 seconds, if it is moved, based on the strength of the motion, when it reach a certain threshold, the text will change immediately. The visual of the text is in a constant fluid status, the more motion applied to the projector, the more fluid the text will appear until it totally become illegible. Once the motion become subtle, the text will gradually turn back into a relatively stable mode that makes itself legible again.
Water Poem tries to express a sense of dislocation. By this dislocation of space, time and meaning, Water Poem tends to reflect the artist’s current experience and feelings, a dislocation of life in a foreign country with different culture and way of understanding. By inviting the audience to control and to transform the text in space, time and meaning, Water Poem also hopes to dislocate the audience into their own floating memory and imagination.
The poetic meaning related to water that the text reflects and the fluidity of the visual are embodied into the space, transforming its concrete character of the space into a constant flux, a liquid skin. Meanwhile, the difference between the meaning of English translation and the original Chinese text, the fragmented phrases from randomly chosen poem all contributes to the dislocation of the meaning, making it ambiguous and fluctuating. Water Poem encourage the audience to control the projection of the text thus to embody the literal and visual content onto anything they want, the de-construction of the meaning might be enhanced. By encountering the thousand years old content of the poem to the modern technology of Internet is another way of dislocating the time.
Technically, water poem incorporates Max/msp/jitter and Processing. The system then communicates with the project wirelessly through an iPhone attached on the back of the projector. Processing is in charge of retrieving and parsing text from the website, it would receive a message from Max to take the retrieving action, it then save the text on the hard drive, meanwhile Max/msp/jitter would be evoked to read the text and make it into a texture mapped onto a fluid simulated nurbs surface. Various parameters of the fluidity is connected to the motion of the projector constantly.
The max patch is developed from a simple fluid simulation equation. The connection of iPhone to max is using Open Sound Control protocol with custom iPhone osc application and max osc library by Tod Machover. we also designed the whole osc patch from scratch. The connection of max to processing uses the maxlink library. The processing patch could also work independently as a poem search engine which lets you input keywords in both English and Chinese (due to the language compatibility, it currently only support to input Chinese in the sketch book not the java applet).
For details, please refer to the actual patches. Here are the links for extra libraries and application to execute the project.
OSC library: cnmat.berkeley.edu/downloads
Oscmote for iPhone: lux.vu/blog/oscemote/