ObserverObject (2010) is a work by Joachim Rotteveel, it is a self-portrait and an augmented reality interface which enables the visitor to look through the eyes of the artist/artwork at oneself.


Joachim Rotteveel: ObserverObject

ObserverObject (formerly known as HeadHunters) is the first in a series of self-portraits of Joachim Rotteveel. The work is part of an artistic research about self-portraits in contemporary media.

ObserverObject is a replica of Joachim Rotteveel's head, equipped with touch/pressure sensors and LED's behind a flexible silicone skin. Cameras are mounted in the eye sockets with a tracking system that tries to identify and track the face of the observer. When an individual is seen by the head he can manipulate his own image in a 3D environment by moving his head. Pushing on the highlighted spots on the face changes the projected self-image.

In this interactive self-portrait you look through the eyes of the artist -the eyes of the artwork- at yourself. Through an activity involving both touching and looking you become involved in something not unsimilar to drawing. Touching and operating an artificial head gives a very different – and perhaps more intimate – experience of an electronic interface than you generally would expect from electronic devices. In most cases, an apparatus is an extension of the human body, in this design the human form is an extension of the apparatus.

With this work Joachim tries to make people aware of how the process of seeing and being seen works. Seeing is a feedback loop in which the observer is involved in the artwork. The installation ObserverObject is both an object and an observer who is changed by the act of seeing. The object and the observer are one.



The human face is probably one of the first interfaces we come to understand in life, because evolution has prepared us for it. We have parts of the brain especially dedicated to recognizing faces and reading emotions. We like looking at faces. We communicate through faces. We imagine the Mona Lisa stares back at us as we look at her. Many things can have a face if you start looking for it. The animist approach that eastern cultures have towards technology supposes a spirit of some kind in all matter. The artists purposefully try to evoke an atmosphere in which objects start to communicate. In a way the face is the most striking natural interface for technology.

The self-portrait is more than capturing an image in the mirror with paint on canvas. By uniting the role of the artist, the subject and the researcher, the self-portrait offers the most intimate access to the artistic consciousness. The artist takes his own knife in hands to dissect and redesign himself as an object. In the past, the self-portrait was a way to show your skills as an artist. In the last century the self-portrait has been a way to represent internal processes of yourself. Today the self-portrait is completely integrated into the daily lives of everyone. We all make digital images of ourselves to show our identity on Social Networks. We are not even realizing that we are creating a self-image.



Stan Wannet

Simon de Bakker

Jan Misker


Many thanks to: 

Melissa Coleman

Ronald Schinkelshoek: www.studioschinkelshoek.nl 

SKM Rapid Modelling B.V.: www.skmrapid.nl

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