An attempt to develop virtual personalities in the CAVE environment, carried out as part of the Artist-in-Residence Program.
Catherine Ikam and Louis Fléri have been developing 3-D figures with realistic human faces since 1992. These figures interact according to analog and random behavioral patterns in real-time with visitors to virtual reality installations. With this work, the artists are attempting to create the illusion of an emotional encounter with a personality. Despite—or, perhaps, precisely because of—our awareness that this is a matter of an artifact, we feel emotionally touched by these synthetic faces. The point of this is to explore emotion and interactivity, presence and absence, and the question of which patterns of behavior artificial personalities have to be endowed with in order to create the illusion that they possess autonomy, intentionality and the capacity to act of their own free will.
Ars Electronica Futurelab staffers developed a virtual environment for the CAVE that was based on the work of Ikam and Fleri. The aim was to test the environment’s suitability to simulate interpersonal communication and to discover the limits of current possibilities to realistically represent faces. In addition, designers integrated language control capabilities in order to enable users to engage in verbal dialogue with virtual persons.