[Video] GH Hovagimyan: 3D Karaoke with the Kinect

It is no accident that GH Hovagimyan chose the idea of Karaoke for this work. Part of the work is a dialog with old media (mass media) represented by the form of pop music and our collective access to it. The Kinect camera is also an extension of many of his previous video performance works but in this case adding an interactive component. There is of course the ongoing position of DIY and Hacker culture that has allowed him to use the camera and create an open source project. His insistence has always been to focus on the creative process rather than creating a product for a market, whether it be the art market or the entertainment market.

[Mar 1] 3D Karaoke with the Kinect

GH Hovagimyan
Fri, Mar 1, 2013, 7pm

Admission: FREE

Harvestworks – www.harvestworks.org
596 Broadway, #602 | New York, NY 10012 | Phone: 212-431-1130
Subway: F/M/D/B Broadway/Lafayette, R Prince, 6 Bleeker


GH Hovagimyan: I’ve been working with the Kinect camera for a couple of years now. I’ve used it as a controller for two different performance pieces, Boxing Rants (2011) and Mapped Morphs (2012). I decided to explore the idea of live 3D video using two or more Kinect cameras. The Kinect camera projects and infra-red dot matrix that is read by it’s infra-red camera. It also has an RGB video camera. The infra-red matrix gives a precise x,y,z point coordinate creating a 3 dimensional point cloud. The RGB video is then mapped onto the surface of the 3D point cloud creating a 3D video. With one camera you get a 180 degree view. With two cameras you get a full 360 degree view. This idea was originally developed in an Artists Meeting group AR workshop in July 2012 and I further developed this at a residency in the UK at the Pixel Palace in Newcastle. It was there that I came up with the idea of adding mp3 files and streaming text to create a 3D Karaoke machine. I used Processing as a coding environment and also used some of the open source libraries that have been created to access the Kinect camera data stream. I added a pull down menu for the songs that is view on the screen along with a camera fustrum (virtual camera) that can circle the 3d image or automatically or be controlled by the mouse. I have presented this work in the US and UK and have had good response to it. It’s very engaging. The back end of the coding allows for mp3’s to be added as well as lyrics in different languages. I am hoping to get a residency in Germany or France so that I might add French and German Lyrics. The work lends itself to a new media workshop residency because there is a way for students to get engaged with simple processing code and adding songs of their own choosing. The code has been released on GIT-Hub as an open source project. This is another part of the workshop process allowing for additional variations on the project.

In fact there are several different upgrades and additions that can be done in the future. At the moment the program uses two cameras. This causes some problems with blending the two images because the cameras infra-red matrices interfere with one another. This may be solved by adding a third camera. This is a hardware problem insofar as the kinect camera needs a dedicated USB bus for each camera. Personal computers have two USB buses. This necessitates a workaround either adding a second networked computer or perhaps using an Arduino chip for a third bus. Another addition would be to make the menus and the camera fustrum respond to the hand gesture control of the karaoke singer. Yet another would be to use dedicated karaoke files that are made for karaoke machines eliminating the need for hand coding. Using this type of strategy may push the application into the commercial world and might become problematic. The piece is conceived of as an ongoing (peripatetic) artwork. Part of the process is developing the piece and customizing the song list for each performance.

Indeed, part of the theoretical parameters for this work has to do with the evolution and exploration of New Media Art and the new working processes surrounding it.

About the Artist

G.H. Hovagimyan is an experimental artist working in a variety of forms. An Internet and new media pioneer, his works ranges from hypertext works to digital performance art, interactive installations and HD video.

His works have been exhibited at MoMA, Mass MoCA, The Whitney Museum, The New Museum, The Walker Art Center, Jeu De Paume, MAC Marseille, MAC Lyon, Pompidou Center, Lincoln Center, ICA The Clocktower, The Kitchen, The Alternative Museum, Eyebeam Art & Technology, List Visual Arts Center, La Gaite Du Lyrique, Stuttgart Kunstverein, Steim Institute, the Moscow Center for Contemporary Art, Postmasters Gallery, Pace Digital Gallery

He has also exhibited works in major festivals and art fairs including; Art Basel Miami, Pulse Miami, Art Cologne, Split Film Festival, Conflux Festival, Video Dumbo, Scope Art Fair, Frieze Art Fair, Avignon Numerique, The Documenta, Interferences 2nd International Festival of Urban Multimedia Arts, Les Musiques, Marseille and Prix Ars Electronica 98 where he won an award for his collaborative work with Peter Sinclair.

His works are in the collections of The Walker Art Center, The Whitney Museum, The Alternative Museum, Computer Fine Arts Collection and Perpetual Art Machine

Recent awards include: Pixel Palace, Newcastle, UK Artist Residency – 2012, SVA MFACA Artists in Residence 2011-2012 – LMCC Governor’s Island Artist Residency – 2010, Plazaville – 2009 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc. for its Turbulence web site made possible with funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, 2003 fellowship from Experimental Television Center, 2003 TAM Digital Media Commissions, 2002 Artists Fellowship from Franklin Furnace, 2002 pilot artist in residence program from Eyebeam, NYC.

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