CHAMELEON PROJECT, prototype 06 : Mimicking emotional contagion in social groups.

exhibitied at Natural History Museum, London June 2009

exhibited at UCLH Hospital foyer area, London August 2008

download video example of CHAMELEON prototype 06: (Quicktime, 7.9 meg)

CHAMELEON project, prototype 06 is a multi-channel video installation exploring how emotions transfer in social groups.

In the work, 12 individuals socialize together. The emotional feelings of each individual constantly infect the emotional harmony of the group. Over time behavioural patterns, hierarchical and social power structures emerge as they constantly search for an emotional homeostasis. Prototype 06 expands the emotional algorithms used in prototype 03.

Chameleon, prototype 06 was built with the help of Max MSP expert, Christian Topfner. The first stage used still images and then we moved onto using video sequences. Chameleon prototype 06 was built for the University College Hospital foyer as a single channel installation. An aim is to make it a multi-channel video installation. (See pics)

The piece does emit sound. It requires one screen, two speakers and one computer.

media release for UCLH exhibition : "As you sit in UCH foyer, you may think of friends or family – or maybe about an upcoming consultation session. When we interact with other people we unconsciously become part of a rhythmic exchange as we synchronise with the facial expressions, voices, movements and even the physiological states of people we are communicating with. Science has revealed that, when you 'fake' a smile to please a group, the same parts in the brain highlight as if you really felt happy. This is how emotions spread between us - this brain activity and transfer is known as emotional contagion.

Artist, Tina Gonsalves, is working with scientists and art curators to explore the CHAMELEON project, an artwork about the interplay of emotional contagion. Over four weeks, visitors to UCH can view an interaction between 12 characters on the screen there. This is part of a two year investigation into human group and social interaction. While this phase 1 of the project involves interaction between characters on one screen, the final phase 3 of the project will enable interaction between a number of screen based characters and groups of real visitors to the work. The phase 3 installation will be shown throughout UK and internationally from 2010".


The project is collaboration with UK based neuroscientists prof Hugo Critchley and prof Chris Frith, affective computer scientists Prof Rosalind Picard, and Dr Rana El kaliouby at the MIT Medialab, Cambridge, and curated by Helen Sloan of SCAN. Gonsalves would like to acknowledge the in kind support from the MIT Media Lab, Banff New Media Institute, SCAN and Institute of Neurology at UCL. The project is funded by the Wellcome Trust Large Art Award, Australian Network for Art and Technology Synapse Residency, Arts Council England, Australia Arts Council inter-arts board, Australia Arts Council Visual Arts Board.
Chameleon, Prototype 06, UCLH Hospital foyer, 2008
Chameleon, Prototype 06, After Darwin: Contemporary Expressions, Natural History Museum, 2009