Mark-David Hosale, John Thompson: DEFENDEX-ESPGX

  • ©2005, Mark-David Hosale and John Thompson





Creation Year:



    Interactive art sculpture


    22 inches x 62.25 inches x 40.625 inches


Artist Statement:

    The DEFENDEX-ESPGX combines real-time audio and video synthesis processing with physical interaction. The challenge in developing this work was providing a meaningful interface that connects the virtual and physical. The context of the DEFENDEX-ESPGX, 1950s technology, affects how users interact with the medium. The device evokes a past era in which technologies were seemingly simpler and less abstract. This nostalgia is compelling and draws users to interact with the device. Users understand how to use the controls even though they are not aware of the virtual system behind the interface. Because of this, the continuum between the physical and the virtual becomes transparent. Unlike conventional technologies where interaction with the device is predictable, the DEFENDEX-ESPGX may usurp the users’ expectations. The device may have compelling nostalgic value, but is interwoven with modern technology. The combination transforms the device to something alien. It leaves its familiar context and becomes foreign. The message is redefined through this contradictory medium. Parallels between past and current technologies and the eras they represent resolve this contradiction. These parallels are reflected in the content fed back to the user by the virtual system. The content is not meant to be pedantic or convey a particular message, but it draws on nostalgic references to encourage implied comparisons between the fearful culture of the Cold War and the culture of fear associated with the current War on Terror. The device also performs surveillance functions. It grabs control data and content from an external video camera and microphone. The control data are derived from motion-detection and audio information, while the content can be displayed with or without processing. This provides the system with two modes of interaction: active and passive. Users who interact with the system directly through the DEFENDEX-ESPGX are active users. The subjects of surveillance within the system are passive users. This means that the system encompasses more than the DEFENDEX-ESPGX itself, but also the entire space in which it is contained (the sensor space). Active users control the surveillance device while being watched at the same time. In order to watch, you must be watched.Physically, the DEFENDEX-ESPGX is a stand-alone unit approximate five feet tall, with a surveillance camera mounted above and a microphone attached. It has a data feedback panel, three master faders, and several switches and knobs. At head height, a monitor provides a visual interface. Speakers are mounted to the sides of the DEFENDEX-ESPGX , where they deliver stereo sound. Haptic feedback is provided via vibrating motors located within the DEFENDEXESPGX.