Synthetic Emotions



Barbara Rauch

This research project maps emotions and visualises the virtual emergence of emotions. Rauch uses 3D-surface capturing devices to scan facial expressions in animals (taxidermy) and humans to then sculpt with the Phantom Arm/ SensAble FreeForm device in 3D virtual space. When working with the haptic sculpting tool one receives a physical feedback on the hand and arm; the experience of touching and sculpting digital data in cyberspace is still awkward, as if the virtual data was not quite real data.


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Rauch has recently morphed 3D laser scans of taxidermy with a large database of the human face. She aims to show an evolution of facial expressions of emotions. The application developed to further access faces and expressions that the human face was never able to express and rapid form printed objects allowed us to bring these composites of synthetic and real data back into the material reality.

The talk is a case study about synthetic emotions. It is a reflection on some practical work that was conducted at UCL in London, UK. The work has then progressed into a discussion about artificial expression and artificial emotion and affect. To present this material of an artificial evolution of emotions, the audience is asked to go back and forth from digital data to physical/ actual output.

Dr. Barbara Rauch is an artist practitioner and research academic. She is currently in a tenure-track teaching/ research position at OCAD University, Toronto in the Faculty of Art and Digital Futures Initiative. Rauch is the Director of the e_Motion Laboratory, researching the development of emotion with the facilitation of data analysis, using advanced technology in 3D printing and visual analysis.

Rauch is collaborating researcher on three major research projects, Neutral Carbon, a Federal Development initiative, medical data visualization through Ontario Research Funds – Research Excellence Round 4 competition: Project Title: Centre of Innovation in Information Visualization and Data Driven Design (CIV/DDD) and GRAND, a SSHRC supported project, where she works in the field of autism and haptic emotion studies with researchers across Canada.