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Sjansmachine 2.0 Currents 2011
Categories: News, Projects

 Sjansmachine at Currents 2011 New Media Festival in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.

Sjansmachine is a collaboration with Carmin Karasic and Rolf van Gelder.

How have Facebook and online dating sites modified social behavior? What happens when the virtual friend is brought into physical space? How has online dating influenced interpersonal attraction? Like social media, Sjansmachine presents data driven friend suggestions. Emerging technologies, such as face detection and QR codes, are playfully introduced to the public. Sjansmachine’s subjective logic for capturing portraits and matching participants highlights ways in which technologies guide our behavior.

Sjansmachine (Chance machine) is an interactive installation that works with real-time images and face detection software. It reflects the world we live in and the ever-increasing technologies that incorporate daily life. The aim of this installation is to bring people closer together in a playful and fun way. Like many social networking tools on the Internet these days, Sjansmachine enables you to connect with other people. It plays with the idea that the virtual world is replacing our social life and therefore wants people to connect in the real world again.

The artwork consists of a series of portraits of participants, and a photo booth for taking each participant’s portrait. These portraits are projected on two rows of semi-translucent Plexiglas squares. This highly animated display creates the instantly engaging Sjansmachine wall.

Inside the booth, the participant sees himself on a computer screen. The Sjansmachine camera detects a face automatically and the participant’s portrait is captured. Two hand-sized cubes are on a shelf below the screen. Each cube surface has text and a QR code to identify a different movie genre: ‘drama’, ‘action’, ‘thriller’, ‘comedy’, etc. The screen prompts the participant to use the cubes to enter their three favorite (movie) genres. The participant intuitively holds a cube in front of the screen to enter their genre choices. After the third genre is entered, a robotic voice says, “Go see yourself on the Sjansmachine wall.” The participant exits the booth to find their portrait added to the projection.

The Sjansmachine algorithms continue to subjectively decide when to snap portraits, match participants, and publically display these matched participants. Mixing face detection, QR codes, humor, and indeterminacy the artwork engages participants in a form of speed dating. The face detection technology alludes to our digital presence, which often precedes us.

Sjansmachine was commissioned by Plaza Futura at Plazaplus Festival in Eindhoven. Version 2.0 of Sjansmachine was commissioned by The Dutch Film Festival in Utrecht in 2010 and also exhibited at the New Media Festival Currents in Santa Fe, New Mexico (2011). Sjansmachine was shortlisted in 2010 for Celeste Network Prize USA.

Sjansmachine is appealing to both eyes and heart. Not only fun is guaranteed, but also the stimulation of meetings, talks and even heated discussions amongst visitors. What is the use of meeting like this? What is the benefit of social media networks? How could digital technologies ever know what’s best for us? Questions like these and many others arose immediately during and after playing with it. Sjansmachine proved a successful, stimulative means for visitors to meet and interact with each other. – Claartje Opdam (Dutch Film Festival)

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