Diagne and Lartigue’s project was commissioned by Google’s DevArt project and is called Les métamorphoses de Mr. Kalia. Like most Dreamworks flicks, it only provides a plot in the loosest sense of the word, but what it lacks in depth, Mr. Kalia’s story makes up for in dynamism by enabling gallery-goers to control the character’s movement through the Kinect’s skeleton-tracking capabilities.
“We like the idea of having something really happening,” says Diagne. “In this case, having an animation that hasn’t been crafted but that’s just the reflection of real world movement, creating a dialogue between our work and its environment.”
As visitors move through the gallery the story progresses and Mr. Kalia begins transforming. The experience is more Dalí than Disney. Mr. Kalia’s body is covered by locks, his hands turn into gushing fountains, and birds begin flocking to branches that sprout from various parts of his body.
Mr. Kalia’s transformation was brought to life using an impressive toolchain that included the Kinect, C++, Coffeescript, CSS, Google Compute Engine, Nite, Node.js, OpenFrameworks, Openni, Paper.js, Socket.io, and Tween.js, all to be rendered in a Google Chrome browser window. The character was created with vector graphics allowing it to scale and be displayed in a web browser or in an arty warehouse gallery.
“Technically speaking, one could say that this project is halfway between traditional animation and video games,” says Diagne. “We borrow from the first to tell little poetic stories with graphics and music and from the later to access another layer of storytelling through interactions.” …
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