art projects
Categories: Art

Commission: Commissioned by the Henry Art Gallery, with support from the Barton Family Foundation, Linden Rhoads and DXARTS.
Exhibition: Exhibited at the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, USA
May 2013 – November 2015
Materials: Video cameras, monitors, computers, ultrasonic speakers, electronics
Description: Sanctum is a public art work by James Coupe and Juan Pampin. It uses the persistent flow of people around the Henry Art Gallery as input, extracting narratives from the demographics of passers-by and the patterns of their movement. The flow of people is used as a physical analogue to another type of crowd, the virtual inhabitants of social networks such as Facebook.

As a person approaches the gallery, they are tracked, analyzed and recorded by video cameras programmed to identify people according to their age and gender. They hear a cacophony of voices, all telling stories. As they get closer to the gallery, the voices become clearer, gradually becoming a single voice that matches their age and gender, and telling a story automatically composed from demographically-appropriate Facebook status updates. A grid of 18 large video monitors on the façade of the gallery picks their face out of the crowd, automatically integrating footage of them with a variety of live and pre-recorded footage from around the gallery façade.

The installation aims to create a locus of complex and intense social networking activity, reaching out of the gallery to embed the passer by. As unexpected flâneurs, people passing by the Henry are assaulted by a multitude of voices, videos and text, of which, as they approach the façade, they will eventually become the focal point.

Join the Sanctum Facebook application here. By joining, your Facebook status updates will become content for Sanctum’s narrative system. All posts that you make to Facebook will remain anonymous – they will be tagged with age and gender, but no other personal data will be used. If you visit Sanctum at the Henry Art Gallery, you can potentially see your status updates used as parts of the stories that are generated.

Credits: With thanks to DXARTS, James Hughes, Yi Ding, Michael McCrea, Jimmy Johnson, Don Craig, So Young Shin, Ewa Trebacz, Tivon Rice, Marcin Paczkowski, Martin Jarmick, Ha Na Lee, Reid Swanson, John Robinson and Percipo
Technical: Sanctum uses computer vision algorithms to detect, profile and track people as they approach the work. The project’s Facebook App creates a database of status posts tagged according to age and gender, and uses an algorithm to join status posts together to form short narratives. These are converted into audio feeds and beamed at specific passers-by using custom-designed ultrasonic speakers in tandem with the computer vision tracking system. When people get within twelve feet of the gallery facade, their image will appear on the video monitors, alongside other people of a similar demographic. The work uses SuperCollider and OpenFrameworks, alongside MySQL databases.
Reviews/News: News Tribune: Projecting Ourselves
Seattle Weekly: Sanctum at the Henry
Seattle Star: Mining the New Gold
FlipTheMedia: Are You Ready for Sanctum?
The Stranger: Is it Safe?
The Daily: The Henry unveils ‘Sanctum
IMAGES: sanctum sanctum
VIDEOS: image image

Categories: Art -