Karolina Sobecka is a Polish artist that works with animation, design, interactivity, computer games and other media. Her work often engages public space and explores ways in which we interact with the world we create. Sniff is an interactive projection in a storefront window. When motion is detected along the sidewalk in front of the display, a virtual dog appears and responds the person’s behavior and gestures. The passerby’s movements are tracked by a computer vision system, and the dog behaves differently depending on how he is engaged. Like a real canine, big swift actions are interpreted as threatening, while slow and friendly actions directed to him are interpreted as friendly. He tracks and remembers the attitude of the viewer and forms a relationship with them over time based on the history of interaction. Depending on the nature of the relationship, he may bark, growl, roll over or even play fetch.
The installation is created with Unity3d Game Engine which renders the dog and makes it change its behavior based on tracking data. Infrared-sensitive cameras are used to detect movements of passer-by in front of the display window. Sniff explores the engagement between two different planes of understanding and the relationships that emerge. The experience is familiar yet strange, leading us to re-examine the notions we take for granted. The dog’s behavior represents the processes of assessment, evaluation and testing that are performed every time anything new enters our lives.