Hand From Above [openFrameworks]

Chris O’Shea is a multidisciplinary artist who works a lot with openFrameworks projects. His work always had a kinetic approach and he plays a lot with human interaction. Human interaction interferes with the intellect of things and it lets objects recognize you.

Hand From Above is the latest project from Chris O’Shea, a joint co-commission between FACT: Foundation for Art & Creative Technology and Liverpool City Council for BBC Big Screen Liverpool and the Live Sites Network. It premiered during the inaugural Abandon Normal Devices Festival.

Inspired by Land of the Giants and Goliath, the project aims to remind us of mythical stories by mischievously unleashing a giant hand from the BBC Big Screen. Passers are playfully transformed being tickled, stretched, flicked or removed entirely in real-time by a giant deity.

Fitted with a CCTV camera, The BBC Big Screen is linked into a computer that runs the custom built software then outputs to the screen. The software picks a person based on their proportions & how alone they are from other people, then tracks the blob over time using optical flow. If the giant hand removes, flicks or shrinks a person, firstly it rubs out the person from the live video using the background reference pixels. Then the tracked person is redrawn over the top in relation to what the hand is doing, i.e. being picked up, or flying out to the left of the screen (not shown in this video). When the hand shrinks a person it redraws them into the video at half scale. When there is too big a crowd it resorts to tickling people, with a random selection.

Many people thought it was a real hand, or at least controlled by an operator. Many didn’t care how it worked. People liked seeing themselves on a big screen and then were completely surprised when this big hand came in and did something to someone. Apparently one lady said “I haven’t had a man’s hand all over me like that in years!” Chris

Hand from Above was built using openFrameworks & openCV.

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