Dasein - an interactive art installation


It was clear from the outset that monitoring, recording and playing back video on the fly, from multiple sources, with limited resources was going to be tricky.

There were suggestions for solutions using Pure Data and make kits like Arduino. But it was believed a KISS approach (keep it simple, stupid) was best.

So the idea was to use off the shelf parts and available, reusable hardware for as little money as possible.

Using Adobe Flash meant we had a programmable, designable and network aware media platform to work with, which already had a wide range of community support and tutorials.


What we couldn't beg borrow or steal, we bought locally on the cheap.

The cameras were basic USB web cams, of a generic type. The only provision was that they were the same make and model (to help troubleshoot any problems).

An old Lenovo 3000 C200 laptop was used, which had: an Intel Core 2 Duo T5500 (1.66GHz, 2MBL2, 667MHzFSB); 1GB ram; an 80GB hard disk and a VGA / s-video output for the projector. As well as plenty of USB ports for the cameras.

The projector was a typical type used for slideshows and presentations, nothing too fancy.


As much open source software as possible was to be used.

This included:

The additional proprietry elements used were Adobe Flash and Adobe Flash Player (now for Linux, yeay).

Complete Process.

The project begins as a participant enters the enclosed space of the installation.

As they move forward, the first camera (alpha) senses their movement and once this 'activity level' goes above a certain tolerance, the camera begins recording.

This live feed is captured via the flash media server, is encoded to flv on the fly, and stored locally on the laptop.

Once the participant has progressed outside the cameras range, the activity drops below the required tolerance level and stops recording.

The same process occurs for a second camera (beta) which also records the persons progress, and saves a new video file.

As the participant reaches the end of the tunnel, a third camera (gamma) senses their motion and plays a flash movie which loads the recorded video.

From the laptop, the browser plays the video, which is projected through the glass for the participant to observe.

A new participant entering the tunnel and triggering the cameras, records over the previous video files, removing privacy concerns and ensuring a unique experience.

Source Code.

We're working to make the source code (flash / actionscript) available for people to comment on, criticize and hopefully create their own works.

Eventually you'll be able to download it to learn from, use or modify for your own purposes.

If you'd like to be notified when this is available, please drop mike an email.

Thanks, acknowledgements and further reading.

Huge thanks to the following sources, which were helpful in creating this project:

And understanding the following actionscript classes was key:

As well as the wealth of tutorials for the various open source software used.