Tely is a device that orients itself to the motion of a distant person, in a way conveying presence through absence.
The conceptual process is marked by me transitioning more and more towards abstraction and even absence.
I. Portal
My project started with an exploration of the concept of portal between two rooms and I was interested in capturing a snapshot of the other room (in this case, a point cloud) that could be viewed from the first room.
II. Mediated Presence - Motion Sculpture
Then, rather than viewing the distant space in a detailed, fleshed out way, I thought about a mediated experience, partly inspired by the reading The Thousand Dreams of Stellavista, where the space retains the memory of their users and responds back. So I started exploring the memory of space through virtual sculptures of their motion, projected back to space in augmented reality (this became a separate project in progress).
III. Tele-Absence
Finally, I've decided to push this to the other end of the spectrum where the presence of the distant person is no longer materialized, but passively felt; what I landed on is a device that is very figural, but at the same time it registers the absence of figurality of the distant presence.

I was also referencing this commentary from Elliott Malkin, which attempts to theorize tele-absence. Reading a novel without a certain letter, it actually accentuates it; the absence becomes the presence. For my project, the device moves when there is motion from the distant person, and it stays fairly quiet when they are static - it highlights the absence more than the presence.
Components & Schema
This is a 2-way process: each room has a Tely that orients itself to the person in the other room.
Tracking & Uploading
Tracking device position via Fologram relative to a virtual origin point in real-time
Calculate turning angles for the tilt-pan servos via a C# script and send those data to Firebase
(Getting the instructions from Firebase and deploy to an Arduino board setup for local testing)
Circuit + ESP32 Code

Pan-tilt functionality

Real-time orienting over WiFi

Video Storyboard

Narrative Video

Final Project for VIS2223 Digital Media: Telepresence

Instructor: Allen Sayegh, Humbi Song

Individual Project

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