To an overview of the exhibit

The Portable Effects installation runs on seven Macintosh™ computers connected to a local Ethernet™ hub. Of the three primary stations, two are for input, one for output. The input applications add information to a shared database; the output application displays that information. All three of these custom applications are built in Macromedia Director 5.0™, and use purpose-built Xtras™—external code modules created with a specific protocol for communicating with Director™.

To an overview of the Unloading Dock

Conceived as a multi-input photo booth, the Unloading Dock invites visitors to consider how they carry their stuff. The station employs two industrial weighing scales to determine the ratio of a person’s body weight to the weight of the stuff carried. It is equipped with three Connectix QuickCams™ that snap photos of each visitor's face, bag, and feet. In lieu of a trackball, a large handle is provided for navigation and selection. The scale recessed in the floor also notifies the computer when somebody is present. To 'QUIT' the program, a visitor need simply walk away.

To an overview of the Inspection Station

The second input station is called the Inspection Station. Here you are prompted to consider the collection of things that you happen to be carrying, and to ask yourself what these things are for. Virtual affordances—for sorting, arranging, and recording—augment tactile exploration and physical manipulation of one’s personal objects. Seated before a table in this intimate—almost confessional—space, visitors enter data with keyboard, trackball, microphone, and two video cameras.

To an overview of the Portrait Gallery

The Portrait Gallery is the primary output station. Here individuals can compare their own nomadic design choices with the solutions of other visitors. Flashing buttons and a Las Vegas slot machine handle are the input devices for a guessing game that challenges participants to consider "Who might carry this stuff?" The station uses a digital IO board to gather button input and to control button lights.

Once a visitor has tried the game, she can browse through the self-portraits that previous visitors have created. Each portrait is a composition of images, sounds, and text that were recorded through a series of transactions conducted in the Inspection Station and the Unloading Dock. A visitor should be able to find his own nomadic portrait in this collection without too much trouble, or invoke simple sorting operations to explore similarities and differences among the other portraits.

Two additional output stations—the Talking Bags—use Macintosh PowerBooks™ to play samples of audio, text, and image that visitors have recorded in the Inspection Station. One Talking Bag is hidden in a doctor’s valise, the other in a photographer’s vest.

To an overview of the Portable Portraits

For visitors who prefer to look and not touch, a selection of "Portable Portraits"—person-on-the-street video documentaries that Rachel Strickland has been collecting since 1987—are screened continuously at a video station.

home | concept | synopsis | reviews | credits | schedule