Sculpture Mimetype

Conducting the Written Word

Graduation project (B.A.) on the search of visual equivalents for mimic and gestural expressions of the human race. Beyond emoji, gifs and memes – How can we communicate emotions in a more intuitive and subtle way?

“Language is nothing rigid & immutable, instead it changes and emerges constantly.” (Eugenio Coseriu 1974)

In digital cor­respon­dence (instant messaging etc.) verbal and non­verbal com­munication are apart. We read something funny, then chuckle to ourself and seconds after we reply with an emoji face with tears of joy. Not only does switching between text and emoji keyboards interrupt a fluent dialogue, but also the small nuances of human non­verbal com­munication get lost: In both the sending and receiving process.

There are 104 dimensions of motion and nine dimensions of phonetics in non­verbal com­munication. In combination these dimensions allow our body to convey an almost infinite amount of expressions. Non­verbal com­munication is a language under­stood globally. But we don’t use it to its full potential. In my graduation project I re­searched non-optical methods of recording gestures and facial expressions (e.g. through electro­myography and pulse sensors). I searched for methods of drawing conclusions about emotions and made experiments with trans­lating emotions into visual, tactile and auditive forms. My research resulted in four exhibition pieces that I would like to share with you hereafter.

Disciplines:Film, Graphic Design, Sculpting

Research & Inspiration

Silent films are a fantastic source to explorer the vast variety in mimics and gestures. For my research I created a database of unique gestures containing ≈100h of footage. As you can imagine, it was a joyful experience collecting this data.

Muted gestures

Abstract Expressionism

“Putting on emotions”

hover or click & hold with your mouse.

17 projection discs designed to fit on a modified record player. A light source built into the record player is used to project the cuttings of the discs with 24fps to the ceiling. Each disc represents one emotion. A symbolic initial – for example “W” for “Wrath” – was designed for every record cover, accompanied by information about the emotion and alternative labels for it.

The user was able to choose one emotion, put it on the record player and experience it as an ambient art installation. The light source changed its color depending on the emotion that was “played”.

Poster Designs

1. Emojilemma“The state of not knowing what the hell the emoji is trying to tell you.”
2. Tones of emotionIn a research study I asked 145 participants what color they would refer to each of the 17 emotions: “fear, anger, envy, hate, guilt, joy, love, disgust, courage, pride, shame, grief, despair, affection, happiness, confidence, complacency.”
3. The overly manly manThe dimensions of phonetics & kinetics

“Welcome and Farewell” – short film

3 different 3 minutes long short movies of 3 different gestural and 6 different tonal inter­pretations of the poem “Welcome and Farewell” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Each of the three actors were asked to perform a non­verbal inter­pretation of the poem – verse by verse. Another three voice-over artist were asked to perform an additional verbal narration of the poem in various languages.

There were in total six distinct audio tracks: English, French, German, Italian, Vietnamese and a self developed language by Fabian Otto. People watching the film were able to choose between those three gestural (video tracks) and six phonetic (audio tracks) inter­pretations. They could experience a poem presented in a language they might not know but under­stand its meaning by watching only the non­verbal play. I intended to show that there is a language that is understood globally and that language is the language of non­verbal communication.

CastFabian Otto, Duc-Hieu Pham, Lisa Frühbeis, Rick Whelan, Mike Porter and Rafael Banasik.
LocationGreenscreen Studio – University of Applied Sciences Augsburg
AssistanceChristian Bachl
CameraRED Epic | Recorded in 2K and 300 fps