CHAMELEON PROJECT, prototype 09 : Fabrica, Brighton UK

An interactive experiment in emotional contagion

How is it that an individual’s smile can lift the atmosphere of a room,
or that we find ourselves ‘catching’ another’s mood from a display of anger,
fear or disgust? Chameleonis an interactive video installation that
explores the subject of emotional contagion between groups and
individuals and it stems from Tina Gonsalves’ continuing fascination with
human emotion, intimacy and vulnerability.

For Chameleonat Fabrica, the ninth in a series of ten artistic and scientific
experiments, the gallery becomes an emotional theatre in which visitors
and digital video portraits interact.

Gonsalves and her team have developed software to seek out visitors’
emotions and then trigger an ‘emotionally intelligent and learning’
computer system to play back video portraits in response. Each day the
mood of the Chameleonportraits will adapt to the range of visitors’
emotional expressions, affecting the tone and emotional ecology of the
gallery space.

Chameleonhighlights how often we are on the threshold of trying to make
sense of each other and how we search for meaning and authenticity
through balanced codes of expressions, dialogue and body language.
Tina Gonsalves leads a collaborative team merging the disciplinary
boundaries ofart, science and technologyand giving new forms to the
scope and function of the artist.She is artist in residence at the Wellcome
Department of Neuroimaging London, UK, MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, USA,
Brighton and Sussex Medical School Brighton, UK, and Nokia Research
Labs Tampere, Finland.

The Chameleon Projectis a collaboration between Tina Gonsalves,
leading neuroscientists and affective computer scientists, emotional
designers and curators. It is funded through the Wellcome Trust with
Australia Arts Council, Arts Council England, Australian Network for Arts
and Technology, Lighthouse, and is supported by UCL, Brighton and
Sussex Medical School, Solent Centre for Innovation and Design, SCAN,
MIT Media Lab, Dana Centre and The Banff New Media Institute, Canada.

Artist Talk
Sat October 3, 2-3pm
Tina Gonsalves will talk about the development of the Chameleonproject and her experiment-
based approach.

Brochure of Chameleon Project @ Fabrica, Oct 2009

video of Tina Gonsalves, Helen Sloan, Hugo Critchley and Matthew Miller discussing prototype 09 (64meg) (shot by Philip Carr)

video of installation at Fabrica 01, October 2009

video of installation at Fabrica 02, October 2009


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.
installation Photo of Chameleon at Fabrica, Brighton, UK October 2009 (photo: Philip Carr)