Thesis I – Project Blog 3

Thesis Paper Outline – Matthew Hopkins

  • Quote – “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney
  • Intro (Abstract) – summary of what the paper is about
    1. Anthropomorphism
      1. Where it started
      2. Where it used
      3. Where it is going
    2.  Project
      1. Relates to combing anthropomorphism and A.I.
      2. How artist can easily communicate using the combination
  • Thesis Statement
    1. Interacting with anthropomorphic A.Is can create and intensify participators’ connections, emotionally and physically, towards synthetic beings. Giving an artist the flexibility to communicate directly to their audience by manipulating the human psychology.
  • Background (Intro) – reason why I made my project
    1. Experience
      1. My background & skills
      2. Opportunity to create an interactive installation piece
      3. Learning in skills and tools
    2. Inspired from Disney and other productions
      1. Universal Studios – Harry potter ride attraction with talking walls
    3. Being able to watch participators and visitors reactions
  • Tech Background – describe hardware & software works if they did not understand
    1. Unity, zBrush, Maya, Blender, substance painter
    2. Lipsync – facial animations
    3. Excel – story progression datasheet
    4. Kinect v2 – input device to capture data
  • Defense
    1. Social Cognition
      1. *
    2.  Technopomorphism/Personification
      1. *
    3. Theory of Mind
      1. *
    4. Uncanny Valley
      1. *
  • Description of Project
    1. Overall/Summary
      1. “Project Frame” is a dynamic interactive experience featuring a hanging oil painting that responses to visual and audio inputs. It will detect the presence of the viewers, follow faces and body movements, and listen for speech responses. All of which, will advance down a fixed “script” that the A.I. continuously references. The final presentation will consist of an environment that will be build around the frame for maximum immersion.
      2. Story
        • Pen name* loved his work more than anything, so much so, that his soul was bound to his greatest piece of work, his portrait. Participators can interact and learn from this broken soul. If they are lucky enough, then they can discover his own lives story
    2. Design
      1.  Character
        1. The true meaning behind the man in the painting
        2. Technical story map *picture*
      2. Art style
        1. References
          1. Victorian era
          2. Dishonors and other video games
          3. Realistic stylization
        2. Installation
          1. Layout
          2. Setup
          3. Design
        3. Behind the scenes – Code
          1. Special functions
            1. Interaction data
            2. Interaction mood level
        4. Response from people
          1. Hypothesis
            1. Creeped out, Curious, entertained
            2. Create emotional connection
          2. Results
      3. Reason I choice the decisions I made
        1. How I started on the project
          • Hardware testing
        2. Everything, besides hardware, is designed around the main character
          • Story, background art, interactions
    3. Conclusion



Procedural Art – FX project WIPs

Character progress

Done this week:

  • the UVs combined
  • character 50% rigged – needs to accessories and hands weighted
  • blendshape readys to be sculpted – zbrush file specially made for the character’s head
  • Throw textures together to get a base maps

Thesis I – Project Blog 2

Character background meeting

  • Alone does not like people
  • Needs people to survive and thrive
  • Grumpy / Scroogey
  • He knows he is in the painting
  • Has regrets – like missing out on his family because of work, past experiences
  • Likes to talk about his perspective of what he sees from as a painting
  • He is an Artist! Who loves his work, the painting, so much his soul is attached to it
  • Goes by his pen name


  • Take away message of the painting – Take a step back from work every once awhile and make time for yourself & your family.
    • Like a warning to visitors through the interact
  • Based locally in a distance Victorian era

Background Art

  • Canvas painting in BG
    • Happy – painting of family
    • Sad – distorted self portrait
    • Uses the same canvas but distorts and blends between the two


Thesis Topic:

Interacting with anthropomorphic A.Is can create and intensify participators’ connections, emotionally and physically, towards synthetic beings. Giving an artist the flexibility to communicate straight to their audience.


Anthropomorphism research

Giving human characteristics to animals, inanimate objects or natural phenomena is a human trait called “to anthropomorphize.”

The term anthropomorphism was coined by the Greek philosopher Xenophanes when describing the similarity between religious believers and their gods

Neuroscience research has shown that similar brain regions are involved when we think about the behavior of both humans and of nonhuman entities, suggesting that anthropomorphism may be using similar processes as those used for thinking about other people.

Human brains are tuned to try to understand other human’s intentions, thoughts and feelings. This concept is called Theory of Mind.

Specific regions of the brain contain populations of ‘mirror’ neurons are the same regions of the brain that are active when a person is anthropomorphizing.

Predicting the actions of animals and inanimate objects employs the same brain regions as predicting the behavior of another human. Though we can consciously differentiate between human and non-human, the same mechanisms in our brain are activated when we are observing actions of both.”

What accounts for this selectivity? One factor is similarity. An entity is more likely to be anthropomorphized if it appears to have many traits similar to those of humans (for example, through humanlike movements or physical features such as a face).

Various motivations may also influence anthropomorphism. For example, lacking social connections with other people might motivate lonely individuals to seek out connections from nonhuman items. Anthropomorphism helps us to simplify and make more sense of complicated entities.

Patricia Ganea, a psychologist at Toronto University, ran a series of experiments on three- to five-year-olds in which they were given information about animals in straight factual form and then in a more fantastical anthropomorphized way.

children were likely to attribute human characteristics to other animals and were less likely to retain factual information about them when told they lived their lives as furry humans.

attributing human-like intentions and beliefs is a “very natural way to explain certain animal behaviors”

lead to inappropriate behaviors

Proposed to be a result of a cognitive default state. The main idea behind this hypothesis is that the human brain evolved to efficiently process social information.

automatic response to any human-like behaviour (Caporael & Heyes, 1997) or human-like feature (Guthrie, 1997) that requires a swift identification or interpretation, which cannot be accounted for using the knowledge at hand.

Epley, Waytz, and Cacioppo (2007) proposes that anthropomorphizing has strong motivational triggers, particularly effectance and sociality.

The first is described as the need to make sense of the actions of other agents to reduce uncertainty concerning their behavior

he second refers to the need of people to maintain social connections

increased tendency to anthropomorphize in situations of high cognitive load (e.g. situations in which a lot of information needs to be processed at the same time) and in social isolation (Waytz, Gray, Epley, & Wegner, 2010).

rooted in social cognition,

Automatic processes such as motor matching mechanisms will probably be engaged as a result of observing animals displaying behaviours that are familiar to humans, especially if their anatomy and general configuration resemble those of a person (Buccino et al., 2004Kupferberg et al., 2012)

Anthropomorphic interpretations of nonhuman entities, especially animals, are supported by a set of cognitive mechanisms. Some of these processes, including motor matching mechanisms, evolved schemata and empathy for pain from the social cognition domain, are probably engaged in anthropomorphizing and mind attribution in an automatic way.

anthropomorphism provides an alternative “model” to help us to interpret behavior.

  • Personification: The attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something non-human, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form.
  • Anthropomorphism is literal. Speaking animals or objects who talk, think, or behave like humans are all anthropomorphic. Think of Thomas the Tank Engine, Winnie the Pooh, or Peter Rabbit. They literally act as if human.
  • Personification is figurative. Do you sometimes feel like your computer hates you, especially when it’s not working right? Well, it can’t literally hate you because it’s not human.

Technopomorphism is the attribution of technological characteristics to human traits, emotions, intentions, or biological functions.

This brings to mind a third major problem with anthropomorphism: the uncanny valley. While adding humanlike interactions can contribute to good UX, too much (but not quite enough) similarity to a human can result in frustration, discomfort, and even revulsion.

Animism (i.e., perceiving life in nonliving entities)


Recipe for supreme happiness was other people

People need other humans in daily life for reasons ranging from the practical to the existential

Need is so strong that people sometimes create humans out of non-humans

Humanlike characteristics

Physical appearance

Emotional states perceived to be uniquely human

Inner mental states and motivations

Anthropomorphism does not include behavioral descriptions of observable actions

Requires going beyond what is directly observable to make inferences about unobservant humanlike characteristics

Does not merely entail animism

Animate life is not a uniquely human property

Does not include any requirement of reasoned or reflective endorsement of an inference

Anthropomorphism is no necessarily inaccurate

Considering an inference anthropomorphic only when it is clearly a mistake is itself a mistake

Some people anthropomorphize more than others, some situations induce anthropomorphism more than others, children tend to anthropomorphize more than adults, some cultures are notorious for their anthropomorphic religions and worldview

People reason about an unknown stimulus based on a better-known representation of a related stimulus, in this case reasoning about a nonhuman agent based on representations of the self or humans

Socially and effectance motivation

Sociality motivation is the fundamental need for social connection with other humans. When lacking social connection with other humans, people may compensate by creating humans out of nonhuman agents through anthropomorphism-increasing belief in anthropomorphized religious agents, GOD, or perceiving nonhumans to be more humanlike, PETS

Anthropomorphism can satisfy effectance motivation by providing a sense of understanding and control of a nonhuman agent, and should therefore increase as effectance motivation increases.

Participants in study1 who felt more chronically disconnected provided higher rankings of the supportive anthropomorphic traits than participants who felt more socially connected.

Participants who were chronically lonely would create agents of social support by anthropomorphizing their pets

Satisfy sociality needs

How effectance motivation may influence anthropomorphism

Dispositional tendency to seek understanding and control is facilitated by as stimulus that enables anthropomorphism

Seeing a nonhuman agent as humanlike not only entails the attribution of humanlike characteristics, but it also carries the consequence of moral agency



Due to the negative effect of anthropomorphism, right up to 2004, Pittsburgh Zoo did no publicly give name to its inhabitants – zoo decided to reverse policy and give animals name” because anthropomorphism can give rise to positive alternative effects

Use of the Paro robot in a nursing home: beyond the ethical question of quthenticity of the human-robot relationship, it clearly appeared that this therapeutic robot, developed by the Japanese AIST industrial consortium, was found especially comforting to patients with dementia




Thesis I – Project Blog 1

Main visual interactions:

  • At Attention – character interacting/listening
  • Present – Detected people
  • Alone/Idle – no one is visible and in idle mode

Audio interactions:

  • Silence – No real understanding and quite.
  • Understands the audio – move down the story
  • Bright/loud sounds – startles/stumbles the character

Interaction pipeline:

  • Starter Convo
  • General Questions – FILLERS Basic small talk with key words – gives hints of why and what he has saw (about people, and envirnoment). Could reply with a question to get info.
  • Rambling – He talks about his life stories, his time, his places, things about his personally. If someone questions the story, he stops explains in a little depth and then ramble about something else. *If loud noise detected or used keyword goes back to the main starter convo.
  • Keyword for fallback/home to starter convo

Life stories are randomly picked – Stories will have different audio with the same story but said differently.

IDLE modes should have different states – get attention, show emotion, move, look.

NEED indicator to tell if he is idle or not – candle could be flickering when active and static when not.

Other Notes:

  • Does not seem interested in people
  • He needs people to move and he likes the ability but hates to interact with people
    • In static could show discomfort, and want attention.
  • Think of different participators experiences – think of 4 words that they would say about the character personality.
  • How long should the interaction should be – MAX experience TIME????

Thesis Proposal Form

Thesis Proposal Form

What is your area of focus for your thesis research?

My area of focus for my thesis research is the uncanny valley and the experience of human-robot/A.I. interactions.

Please provide 3-5 artists whose work inspires you or that you plan to research as part of your thesis work.

Golan Levin, Edward Ihnatowicz, Kenneth Rinaldo, Lozano-hemmer


What type of work is your thesis project? (Game, installation, ARG, etc.)AND What technology needs does it require? Will you be using your own technology or Becker’s resources?

Installation. It will require a PC using Unity, Monitor, speakers, and Kinect V2.

Describe your project idea and how it ties into your thesis research in 1-2 paragraphs.

“Project Frame” is a dynamic interactive experience featuring a hanging oil painting that responses to visual and audio inputs. It will detect the presence of the viewers, follow faces and body movements, and listen for speech responses. All of which, will advance down a fixed “script” that the A.I. continuously references. The final presentation will consist of an environment that will be build around the frame for maximum immersion.

This project ties into my thesis because it involves human-A.I. interaction. I want to research the effect of the uncanny valley, positive or negative. Is there a usable use for it? Also, can different physical spaces promote this effect? Researching deeper into this, will help me heighten the overall experience of the project.


Describe your planned presentation method for your thesis project, (keeping in mind the gallery showcase at the end of the year).

I envision a space that mimics a Victorian library (with scope in mind). The main piece, the painting, is hung on the center wall. I plan to adapt the lighting in the space to hide the Kinect and any other sensors that are used in the piece. The painting itself will be a monitor with a frame built around the screen. Rest of the electronics, such as the computer, will be located behind in the walls.


Please list 4 major project milestones for your interactive work for this (You may also want to list your milestones for next semester but clarify especially where you want your project to be at the end of this 3-month semester)

  1. Programming A.I. branch layout/designed  *Me: character rigged and blendshapes done
  2. MIDTERM – Rough draft of the basic script finished. A.I. tree interacting with inputs. Alpha demo where users can say hello and have it hello back. Some character movements – eyes, etc. *Me: character textured, connect/import blendshapes with lipsync. | Help on the script
  3. Character face animated, have lipSync working with correct responses. Background done.
  4. FINAL – Ground work down for a interaction demo – Detects users and voice input affects the A.I. interaction using the script. *Basic interactions (audio, and visual) are smooth!

Detailed list:

  1. Art: Character is imported with textured, rigged, and blendshapes are applied. Prog: Must have branch structure designed which allows for input data effect the output visually. Such as (eyes follow detected user or head follows detected user)
  2. Art: Fill out the background of the scene and get lighting close to final. Prog: Have vocal input effect output.
  3. Art: Have basic on animations imported. (Arm movements on interaction, etc.) Prog: Have lipSync working, and Animations linked with the correct responses.
  4. Art: Post effects – overlays and any other polish work. Prog: Add more interactions with the data. Expand the tree and make sure it does not break during run time.


What are your project needs as far studio teams (ex- 2 artists, 3 programmers)?

  • 2 artists for background modeling, texturing and animations.
  • Writer for interaction mapping script
  • 2-3 programmers for hardware working, and basic A.I. work.
  • 1 audio engineer for voice and other ambient sounds.

* These numbers are guessed +/-. As I am not sure what help I may need.

Modern Growth

Modern Growth



Modern Growth is an modern take of a harp with a twist. Designed for the green room in Barrett at Becker College. The mirrored vine will be at the center of the room and extrude from the ground up to adult height. Under the vine, there are numerous strings which will have water dropping down. Each string plays an important role. If a visitor gets courageous and touch said strings, an audible musical note will play and the string will light up. String length also plays a role because longer strings will be bass notes while the shorter strings are higher pitch. These sounds will be played from the base of the sculpture hidden from view. Since the design is like a harp in nature, multiple strings can be played at once.

The piece is used to break up the space in the room. Most of the time, the room is empty. My idea is to bring people together even if it is just to study or relax. I believe this piece can be used as a white noise generator because of the waterfall. It could also be an ice breaker where multiple people can come together and touch the strings.

The visual design is taking elements from nature, Pentagon by Monir Farmanfarmaian, the location and instruments. The room use to be a green room in the old mansion. Using the original use of the room, I decided to create a vine that broke through the floor. The material of the vine is mirrors. This is a take on the modern, and sci-fi look as this building houses many game courses for the School of Design and Technology.

Expected emotional responses from the piece could result in calmness, happiness, and being surprised.

I was inspired by Pentagon by Monir Farmanfarmaian. I had the chance to view the piece in person and was blown away. The way the mirrors reflected light was visually stunning. Another inspiration was the location for the piece.


Inspirational Images/Components used in my Design

Pentagon – Monir Farmanfarmaian

Image result for string waterfall


Components Needed

  • Mirrors
  • Housing base – possibly wood
  • Water + solution
  • Plastic for water base
  • Water pump and hoses
  • Broken tiles – used to blend the base into the floor
  • Metal for the sculpture
  • Nylon
  • Speakers
  • RGB leds
  • Vibration sensors

Blog Entry – Museum Visit Responses

  1. how does fashion play a role in your work — if you have a character(s) then those design decisions are important OR if you have no humans in your work, discuss the fashion of your favorite game with people in it.

Fashion is important within my work on characters. Depending on how the styles are designed and used, the wardrobes can influence the audience. We can use fashion in many ways as to describe who the character is, when is the character from, and why do they look the way they do. Most of the time, I use fashion to set a setting for the model to reside within. For example, I might pick a certain suit that would set a place and time that would relate to a certain time period. This could evolve into something else as I add elements of clothes that I personally like. Having my own personal preferences influence my characters, allows me to experiment with the endless possibilities that can create a unique character.


  1. how could you make fashion interactive and what statement would that make to wear it?

Today, there are numerous pieces of clothing that is interactive. Programmable LED tshirts, Air-Filtering scarves, heated sports clothing, posture-correcting shirts, app-enabled LED jacks, reactive feather jackets, etc. The list goes on and on. I believe that is the most important part about fashion. Allowing the individual to express themselves through clothing. Most of the interactive clothing seems to be corny or practical. Something that could be interesting would be a coat that can be modularized. Each piece (arms, pockets, collar) can be swapped out with whatever design the individual. Attaching the parts together would be an issue though. Velcro would be the easiest, but durability would be the main issue.

Another unique possibility to make fashion interactive would be a “mood ring” clothing. The clothing would react to external and internal temperature and change color. I imagine the clothing being filled with a liquid to make this happen. The liquid would be the one reacting to the temps. Both designs would give the individual a personalitzed piece of clothing, one being based on their own preferences, and one being affected by the surrounding elements.


  1. Find the piece pictured below, in the Eunice and Julian Cohen Galleria (Gallery 163). Note the name of the piece and then describe your impression of the piece — what are questions it draws forth from you upon viewing?

“Flicker” by Ian Sommerville (1959), 2004 Glass chandelier, flat-screen monitor, Morse code unit, and computer. Unfortunately, this piece was not working as intended. As the blinking was not working. The Morse code unit was not attached as well. With that said, the initial impression of the piece was bland. Without the blink, the piece is only a glass chandelier. At first, I did not even notice it hanging up until someone else pointed it out. If it was lit, even without the blink, I believe it would have caught my eye. If it was working as intended, I would have been curious of the blinks. I might have tried to decode the Morse to figure out what the message was. This would have been a fun piece to experience. Although the name of the piece is confusing. It is straight forward, this chandelier is about Ian Sommerville’s dreamachine “Flicker” as it will blink Morse code text of the piece. I think the title is a weak part of the piece but I wonder if the reason Evans called it that because he imagined that these lights are only talking about Flicker and Sommerville.

Other questions that came to mind are:

What is it trying to say?

How can I figure it out? Without cheating….

Could I use this interaction in one of my pieces?

Would it be a better experience if it eye level? Or is the experience better because it is higher up and massive?

Would lowering the ambient light, and putting it into a darker room, create a better environment (more immersive) to experience this piece?

Would anyone notice the Morse code blinks if the chandelier was piece among other items that resemble its style?


  1. Discuss how you can imagine taking one of the pieces in the exhibit and if you were asked to contribute a work with a similar look/feel/message now, how could you make it into something interactive? Keep in mind the stated message of the Bauhaus as well as the individual feel/reading you get from the piece you choose.

In the Bauhaus exhibit, I was fascinated by the abstract shapes. I wanted to pull them apart and visualize the prints in 3 dimensions. I want to walk around the work in space and see them with depth. The way I would do this would be to create an AR experience. I would create bigger versions of the postcards with the abstract shapes, and balanced forms. The viewers would open an app on a tablet that would allow the user to aim at the prints and the prints would come alive. Depending on the image, the shapes could rotate, scale, dotted lines might move, etc. The viewer could walk around and see the in-betweens of the print in 3D. Allowing them to the freedom to experience the forms that create the Bauhaus style.



Box of Life’s Rhythm

Box of Life’s Rhythm



Box of Life’s Rhythm is a self-reflection interaction with a box containing a beating heart. The interactor opens and holds the box. As they hold the box, their index finger will lay on the pulse sensor that is located on the left side. Once the pulse is detect, the heart within will began to beat matching the interactor’s own heart rate. Four red LEDs will light up. Two LEDs are static. They illuminate the box and heart. The other two LEDs will pulse to the rhythm of the interactor’s pulse.

*This piece is merely part of a larger idea. There would be two boxes on display facing one another. As the interactors hold onto the boxes, each heart would beat to the other person’s heart rate.

The emotional response expected from this piece would be the feeling of being disturbed but some individuals might be excited and interest. The personal value of the piece was the physical build. Trying to piece together all the components into the box was a challenge. Redesigning the heart to beat with a servo motor. Wires breaking over and over again. The rubber band in the heart not sticking until adding massive amounts of hot glue. A faulty pulse sensor. Even with all those challenges, the build was completed and works as planned.



  • 4 330Ω Resistors
  • 4 Red LEDs
  • 9 volt battery
  • Arduino Uno board
  • Black cardstock
  • Cardboard
  • Duct Tape
  • Hot Glue
  • Jewelry box
  • Pulse Sensor
  • Rubber heart
  • Rubber Bands
  • Servo motor
  • Wires

Links to parts

Wooden Box

Heart Prop

Pulse Sensor

Arduino Uno



The concept of the piece originally bigger scaled interaction that required two people to complete the “circuit”. Once the “circuit” was completed the wavelength would be displayed on the wall along with LEDs that would change color and brightness based off of the signal.

Original Description of “Coupling” – It takes two to be one…

2 people lay their hands on two metal plates. There is one in the middle between them forcing them to “hold hands”. Once their hands are touching the plates, a frequency or current would transmit through them both to the middle column. While this is happening, a picture/video of their unique wavelength is show. Based on the wavelength, LED panels would changs colors based off that signal. The resulting expressions would be curiosity, excitement, and Unity.


Concept Description


Blog Entry – Research and Project Updates – 2019 #13

This week I have been working numerous projects. First project is my human interaction final. As of now, I am struggling to get an heart rate from skin conductivity. I believe I will have to redesign the project to simulate the heart rate when the box is touched and held. Although I do have some time to develop it before the need to redesign it.

The other project I worked on this week was the 3d digital art final. I finally got a character that “fits” my requirement for the project. Here is a screenshot:

I am going to do a polish pass of the face and detail it out with wrinkles, defects, and to make the face asymmetrical. Also the character’s face has multiple layers that allows me to remove the beard and make the face fuller or not but the only thing I am deciding on is the clothes.  I haven’t figured out the style yet but I am feeling something Victorian or Gothic suit.


Tutorials/Interesting Videos:


Idea – Beat Box

Idea – Beat Box?


Beat Box is a self-reflection interaction with a box containing a beating heart. As an interactor opens and holds the metal jewelry box, the heart within will began to beat matching the interactor’s own heart rate using conductivity and a servo motor. Four or more hidden RGB LEDs will light the interior of the box with color. The color and intensity will be controlled by the same input data as the heart. Lower the rate, cooler the colors while higher the rate, warmer the colors and brighter it is within the box.

This piece is merely part of a modified version of a final piece. There would be two boxes on display facing one another. As the interactors hold onto the boxes, each heart would beat to the other person’s heart rate.


Other Options

  • I would add in a small speaker to create some type of ambient, droning beat to match the heart rate.
  • Instead of a metal jewelry box, the heart would be suspended in the heart within an acrylic enclosure as if it was floating. The interaction would be the same, but the input would have to be adjusted. The viewers would have to lay their hand on a platform for the heart to beat.
  • The last alternative for a gallery version would be the main artist would wear a monitor during the show. The heart would beat in sync with the artist in real time for everyone to view.


Components Needed

  • Rubber heart
  • Metal jewelry box
  • Acrylic plastic to split the box
  • Arduino board
  • Servo motor with 2 attachments to push the heart
  • Cloth interior – hide electronics
  • RGB LEDs
  • Arduino battery

Required Outputs

  • RGB LEDs
  • Servo Motor to drive heart

Required Input

  • Metal conductive material to get heart rate