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Before you swim five, elegant, digital fish – a complex, moving image projected onto a large, screen “aquarium.” The digital fish mimic the movements of five, white koi in the tank beside you, while a sixth fish is absent from the view. You are that sixth fish, an orange koi whose own observations dictate what you see in the projection.
The exhibit is a collaboration between Ken Goldberg, an artist and professor of industrial engineering and computer science at the University of California at Berkeley, and Pietro Perona, director of NSF’s Engineering Research Center for Neuromorphic Systems Engineering (CNSE) at the California Institute of Technology. In INFILTRATE, Goldberg focuses on our understanding of perspective, an effort motivated by his post-9/11 realization that different cultures viewing the same scene can draw completely different interpretations.
In the early stages of their collaboration, Perona told Goldberg about the research of CNSE researcher Michael Dickinson, who determined what flies see during flight. NSF supported Dickinson’s research on flies, which he conducted while a researcher at UC-Berkeley. The study relied upon new technology that tracked the motion of the tiny insects, the same technique Goldberg applied to fish. Three cameras track the movement of all of the fish, while a novel computer program digitally reconstructs images of what the orange fish sees.