Mathew allen & Jack Ratcliffe

About Man Machine installation (MMINSTALLATION)

In the mid-20th century, Marshall McLuhan stated that modern technology had outered the brain and nervous system.

This still-accelerating process continues to produce huge cognitive changes in humans, but one barrier sits between humanity and its technology: physical bodies.

This installation merges the physical attributes of the human and the computer, generating a visualisation which highlights the human body as the ultimate interface - and the ultimate barrier - for human-computer ineration. It uses the human heart rate and body heat combined with the computer's processing load and temperature to determine the visualisation. The heart rate determines the size of the pulsating orb, while the computer's processing load determines how smoothly or disrupted the orb's outline becomes. The speed of the orbiting wave is determined by the body's temperature, while the fluidity of the wave is generated by the temperature of the controlling computer.

The difference in which factors affect which elements produces an interesting juxtapostion: the human's readings can be altered by emotional changes, environmental shifts and countless other factors, involuntarily shifting the body's outputs. The computer, on the other hand, is insuceptable to such subtlties, but benefits from direct control of it's temperature regulation system in response to highenten interactions. Equally, the human and the machine perceive common experiences in incredibly divergent ways. Watching relaxing or shocking video on the computer would have hugely differeing effects on the human, while the computer will respond indentically to experiencing both: simply by increasing it's processing output.

Conversely, different video qualities would affect the system, but produce little difference to man. We invited the public to interact with the human and note the response generated by the computer.

How it was made:

MMII uses five sensors to read the biorhythms from the human performed – brainwave, pulse rate, temperature, galvanic skin response and movement. It passes these readings through an Arduino and feeds them into an OpenFrameworks script that generates the 3D visualisation projected behind the performer.


>> Hotel Elephant, Artlicks Weekend 2015

>> Richmix, EXHIBI[4]TIONS 2015

>> Interfaces Monthly, The Trampery+Barbican 2016

Man Machine II (Barbican/Trampery Exhibition) from Jack Ratcliffe on Vimeo.