THESIS JOURNAL

This is where my thesis documentation and process will live throughout the next few weeks as I explore my thesis research.

Thesis Statement

How can digital avatars and virtual worlds open up new ways to deliver messages, stories and information? How do they become reflections of the real world, creating feedback loops off of each other?

This focus has come out of a few classes at ITP that I have found myself completely immersed in (performative avatars, motion capture and computational approaches to narrative). The culmination of learned skills and conceptual theories has led me to explore how I can apply them to reflect and critically examine the present world we live in. I am curious in exploring avatars as extensions of digital human communication and representation. I want to explore the uncanny valley and digital anthropomorphism. What does it mean to use yourself as a dataset, creating a virtual likeness of you? What are the tradeoffs between staying true to your physical representation and the ideal self representation that lives virtually, forever? How do we address these emerging virtual worlds and our digital representations that reside in them? The internet has become a new form of social contact and a laboratory of experimentation, allowing constructions and re-constructions of the self that characterize and explore our different identities and personalities.

At this point, my thesis will be a series of experiments with a possible installation.

Research

Project Influences:

Replika

NEON

Ashley Graham

Lil Miquela

La Turbo Avedon

Neural Story Generator

Closed Loop

Two Chatbots

Generative Engine

Robot Sophia

Kool-Aid Man

Bibliography:

Papers/Online Sources

Digital Anthropomorphism

Avatars and Computer-Mediated Communication

Interactive Realistic Digital Avatars

Algorithms - Resources

How to Build a Data Set For Your Machine Learning Project

Books

Digital Performance

The Mind's Eye

Hamlet on the Holodeck

Gödel, Escher, Bach

Implementation

I plan to build three different digital versions of myself (one made using a structure sensor, second using a photo/headshot morph with iClone, and third through photogrammetry using Metashape/Agisoft to combine the photos into a 3D model). Each one will have it's pros and cons and I am interested to explore how using different technologies to represent oneself reflects slight differences. I will also rig each avatar.

 

The second part of production would be training/fine tuning an NLP model (using GPT-2 or possibly a chatbot) that I would then link to each rigged avatar in Unreal. At the very least I would have one avatar rigged to this, but my goal would be to have each avatar linked to a different NLP model that has been trained off of slightly different datasets in order to show how datasets can reflect different outcomes and therefore decisions.

PROCESS / DOCUMENTATION

WEEK 2

Photogrammetry Scanning

My aim was to create a rough photogrammetry prototype just to test out the process and pipeline. With the help of my friends, Veronica helped take photos on a DSLR while Son helped document the process. I ended up having 130 photos that I ran through Agisoft, a photogrammetric processing software for digital images. First, I added my photos to Agisoft and then aligned them (Agisoft estimates the camera positions for each image, building a sparse cloud. After then I build a dense cloud and then a mesh and finally texture. Out of all the scanning methods, photogrammetry creates the most true texture because of the use of DSLRs, but the mesh isn't as accurate as using the structure sensor. The lighting conditions were not great, forcing us to use a slower shutter speed. Ideally this should be done in bright, natural light during the day. There was also a missing spot on the back of my head. I plan to make all these corrections on my next photogrammetry iteration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Headshot Morph with iClone

I used iClone's Headshot morph plugin, which is an AI based 3D head generator that is able to generate a 3D head from a single photo. This will be the least accurate to my physical likeness of all three models.

TBC - This will be updated weekly