X-Ray Flashlight Installation Lets You Be Superman

As you can see in this video, the Out of Bounds project uses a flashlight to let you "see" what's behind a wall, burning through different layers to reveal a room. This Superman X-Ray vision effect is no only amazing but mesmerizing, even if you are a Batman fan. We talked to artist, electronics tinkerer and programmer Chris O'Shea about the technology he used to achieve this effect and his inspiration. Full interview and pics after the jump.Jesus Diaz: It looks like this piece is inspired by Superman's powers, but it seems to me like nowadays you need to be an expert on technology, like Batman, to be a superhero in the art world. Or at least, part of it. So the question is: who would you like to be, Clark Kent or Bruce Wayne?

Chris O'Shea: Well the idea was to give people the feeling of being able to see through walls, using a device that we use in our everyday lives, but in a playful and unexpected way. This was inspired by wanting superhero x-ray vision as a child.

I'd like to be neither really. Both have to hide who they really are every day. Bruce has to rely on technology, which will inevitably crash. My answer then would be Superman, without having to be Clark Kent.

JD: Could you explain the technology more in detail? I see it's IR-based, but I'm interested in knowing more technical stuff about it.

CO'S: Yes, the technology is infrared, so whilst we don't see the IR light from the torches, the camera does. It is programmed in c++ using openFrameWorks, a set of c++ libraries & a framework aimed at designers and artists.

Computer vision in the software looks for pixels of light within the projection area. It then uses this to wear away layers of images, such as two layers of brick and then into the out of bounds space itself.

JD: How long did it take you to complete the piece, from concept to final montage?

CO'S: A week, including finding the equipment, developing the software and installing it on site.

JD: That's amazing. With help or own your own? What I mean is, are you a self-taught gadget tinkerer/hacker or do you get help from collaborators who specialize in electronics and computers?

CO'S: Two years ago I graduated from MediaLab Arts at the University of Plymouth, England. There I was taught the fundamentals of programming in Director & Java. I attended a small openFrameWorks workshop, but mostly I am self taught and learn as I go along with each project.

JD: Renaissance man, indeed. Thanks for talking to us, Chris. And congrats for the amazing art instalation. Absolutely beautiful and mesmerizing.

CO'S: Thanks for getting in touch and for writing about Out of Bounds. I read Gizmodo each day. Also, thanks for your kind words :)

If you are in London before October 14, visit the Design Museum to experience Chris' Out of Bounds installation

[Chris O'Shea via Creative Review]

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