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The Stranger

Year: 2017
Format: 2 channel HD Video, 3D Animation
Duration: 2 min 32 sec
Audio: Stereo Sound
Commissioned by TodaysArt.

The Stranger is a two-screen installation exploring motion capture data libraries, their gendered presentation of movement and the lenghts at which such data can be decontextualised.

Motion capture technology (mocap) is used in animation and cinematography but also finds applications in biomechanics, forensic research and robotics. Originally developed for gait analysis, mocap is used to record the actions of objects or bodies. Movement data is recorded as coordinates in virtual space by multiple sensors placed on the subject or by capturing on body optical markers with dedicated cameras. A walking human figure is captured as multiple data points, mirroring the corporeal joints and spine. In 3D animation software, the captured motion can animate any figure with corresponding joints, be it fictional, fantastical or humanoid.

During the recording process, motion capture technology entirely disregards the surrounding environment, bystanders, light and weather, only capturing raw movement data. Indoor mocap recording studios are referred to as ‘volume’, alluring to an empty anonymous space anywhere.

In The Stranger, two screens are facing each other. On each screen, the same figure is seen moving: One screen shows the figure punching, while the other is being hit. The figures seemingly react to each others actions -- there is no signal interaction between the two figures, rather the video is edited to simulate a storyline. The mocap data is taken from Mixamo, a mocap library owned by Adobe Systems offering movement data for 3d artists. While the data can be recontextualised for anything, all movement data in the library is categorized by male or female. While a male character is sitting with its legs spread, the female crosses its legs. While the male character is holding its arms open 'to carry' the female is lying helplessly in virtual space to 'be carried'.

The Stranger is questioning the power of decontextualised raw data, scientifically or fictional, and pushes the normalisation of a gendered body.

Related writing

↑ [ANIMAC / SCANIMATE ↗](https://ohiostate.pressbooks.pub/graphicshistory/chapter/12-2-animac-scanimate/) early mocap systems. Note the woman in harness vs the engineer in suit and control.

ANIMAC / SCANIMATE ↗ early mocap systems. Note the woman in harness vs the engineer in suit and control.

↑ **The Stranger** at TodaysArt festival 2017 at Filmhuis Den Haag.

The Stranger at TodaysArt festival 2017 at Filmhuis Den Haag.

Credits

⦁ Animation: Simone C Niquille
⦁ Mocap Data: Mixamo [hit] & [punch]

technoflesh Studio ( ᐛ )و

Design & Research practice
of Simone C Niquille

Located in Amsterdam, NL

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