Feeling Absence



Color Textures overview

Feeling Absence is an interactive installation that allows visitors to feel real shadows through touch. It explores enhancing the perception of reality with additional sensory modalities. Shadows are an absence of light. Although immaterial, the shadows are an important part of the material world. They are everywhere. They belong to objects and are attached to them: they move whenever the object casting the shadow moves. Can we disconnect shadows from the objects that create them, make them exist independently and persistently?
The Feeling Absence installation consists of a table and two opposing chairs in a dark room. The table is brightly lit so that objects placed on the table cast prominent hard shadows on its surface. The visitors can create shadows by using objects provided in the Feeling Absence installation but they also can create shadows by using their bodies and personal artifacts such as accessories or mobile phones. Once the visitors take a seat on one of the instrumented chairs they can touch and feel the shadows that are cast on the table. The tactile feedback is produced using the Revel technology.


Color Textures overview
We explored what shadows could feel like, what textures they would have. For example, a shadow's texture could reflect the character or shape of an object. The shadow of a spiky object would feel rough, while the one of a round object would feel smooth.


Color Textures overview
The visitors can create shadows by using objects provided in the Feeling Absence installation but they also can create shadows by using personal artifacts, such as accessories or mobile phones, or their bodies.


Color Textures overview
The Feeling Absence installation consists of a table and two opposing chairs in a dark room. A simple spotlight is used as a light source.


Color Textures overview
The Feeling Absence installation uses the Revel technology. Revel is based on Reverse-Electrovibration. It injects a weak electrical signal into anywhere on the user’s body, creating an oscillating electrical field around the user’s skin. When sliding his or her fingers on the surface of the table, the user perceives highly distinctive tactile textures that augment the physical object. Varying the properties of the signal, such as the shape, amplitude and frequency, can provide a wide range of tactile sensations.


Color Textures overview
A Revel device is attached to each chair, enabling personal tactile feedback for each visitor independently. A depth camera is used to track the position of the visitor's contacts with the table and provide the appropriate tactile sensation when a visitor slides a finger on a shadow.


Publications / Exhibitions


Pending. More information and video soon.


Team and Credits


The Feeling Absence concept and installation was developped with Philipp Schossler and Ivan Poupyrev at Disney Research in Pittsburgh, PA.