Sniff is an interactive projection in a storefront window. As the viewer walks by the projection a dog follows him, dynamically responds to his gestures and changes his behavior based on the state of engagement with the viewer.
Software development for Sniff was led James George.
Sniff production was supported by a Finishing Funds grant from the Experimental Television Center. The Experimental Television Center’s Finishing Funds program is supported by the Electronic Media and Film Program at the New York State Council on the Arts.
This project is an exploration of how much we attune to each other when we interact, how much we are formed in the interaction, embodying both minds.
In her essay ‘The Body we care for,’ Vinciane Despret tells the story of Clever Hans – a horse, who became famous in 1904 for his ability to do arithmetic, including multiplication, division and extracting square root problems. It turned out that Hans couldn’t actually do arithmetic – he was responding to unintentional minimal movement of the bodies of his questioners. Despret explores in her essay the ‘links between consciousness, affects and bodies’ it suggests.
“Hans could play the role of a device that induced new articulations between consciousness, affects, muscles, will, events ‘at the fringe’ of consciousness. Hans, in other words, could become a device that enabled humans to learn more about their bodies and their affects. Hans embodied the chance to explore other ways by which human and non-human bodies become more sensitive to each other.
They had to learn to which cues Hans was sensitive, without knowing that they were learning. How could this happen? The practice was not on the questioner’s side only: Hans was teaching them what made him move. Hans has made them move otherwise, he changed the habits of their bodies and made them talk another language. He taught them how to be affected differently in order to affect differently.
Hans the horse was as much leading them as the humans were leading him. Their human bodies were not only sensitive to their own desire to make the horse succeed, they were also translating the horse’s desire to help them to lead him successfully.
Who influences and who is influenced, in this story, are questions that can no longer receive a clear answer. Both, human and horse, are cause and effect of each other’s movements. Both induce and are induced, affect and are affected. Both embody each other’s mind.”