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Monkey Business

A collaborative project realized by Jan M. Sieber and Ralph Kistler
The documentary film was made by Susann Maria Hempel

Overall dimensions of the installation: 180cm x 80cm x 25cm. Monkey: 75 cm tall
Inside components and materials: Kinect Sensor, Computer, Microcontroller, electronic components, Servo motors, steel. Casing: synthetic fabrics, cord, steel

New Face Award
at 15th Japan Media Art Festival, Tokyo, Japan

The above image can be downloaded in a higher resolution by right-click and "save target as"

A cuddly toy monkey hanging on a wall like a Jumping Jack.
With a friendly "Hello" the puppet starts to react to the visitors movements
and immediately apes every gesture with its arms and legs, its head and body.
You can let the ape act smoothly or invite him to a wild dance.
But in a subtle way the monkey asks for another move you have never ever performed before.
Playing the game you will loose control unconsciously
and after the seductive encounter you might start wondering
what is all this monkey business about?
Who pulls the strings?

“Monkey Business” is an interactive installation where a cuddly toy monkey apes the gestures of the user. The monkey hangs like a Jumping Jack on the wall and gets his vividness from 10 built-in servos that are driven by a set of a sensor, a processing data computer and a microcontroller. The flexible suspension of the ape together with fast responding motors allows an astonishing quick-witted behavior and a tempting interaction experience for the user. All technical devices are covered in order to facilitate a direct communication between the visitor and the soft toy. The work reflects in a playful way the problem of real natural interaction and states an ironic comment about the present art business through this iconic monkey figure.

The system consists of a tracking camera sensor (Microsoft XBox Kinect) on top of the toy monkey for tracking the visitor‘s movements, a hidden computer to analyze and convert the tracking data (OpenNI Framework, osceleton, OSC), a programming patch (Processing) to process the data into movement angles and send it to a microcontroller board (Arduino) inside the toy‘s body, which controls ten servo motors attached to a metal skeleton and in this way moves the ape‘s arms, legs, head and body.

Getting things work....


The documentary film of Susann Maria Hempel quotes the following artworks

Jean Baptiste Deshays de Colleville, "Monkey Painter",1750
Decamps, Alexandre Gabriel, "The Monkey Painter", 1840
Hugo Rheinhold, "Monkey with skull", 1893
Gabriel von Max, "Monkey in front of a skeleton", 1890

Thank you for sharing! Dossier: Les meilleurs hacks Kinect connus jusqu'à présent:
Jan M. Sieber and Ralph Kistler have created pure awesome in the living room. Using some Arduino motors and an Xbox 360 Kinect, a monkey will follow a person’s movements. Just check out the 8 minute long video below, laugh your socks off and then wonder the rest of the day how you will be able to get your own. Jed Bradshaw,
This poetic video with an excellent sound track and voice over doesn’t quite deserve to be called a ‘Making Of’. In fact the analogies drawn between the arts’ audience and critcs and the user and a system are quite witty. Tim, Adverblog
The Paltry Sapien
¿De qué te sirve tu Kinect si no puedes jugar a Simón dice con un mono de peluche? En efecto, para nada. Afortunadamente para Microsoft y para nosotros, el dúo formado por Jan Sieber y Ralph Kistler ha logrado hackear el dispositivo y brindarnos este imprescindible uso. Gracias desde lo más profundo de nuestros corazones.¡Mira, el mono me imita! ¿O eres tu quien imita al peluche? No importa, la cuestión es que la Kinect lee y graba el movimiento de nuestro cuerpo, trasladando la información al simpático mono… enfundado en una especie de exoesqueleto. Lo de ese armazón formado por cables, piezas metálicas y otros componentes es de lo más inquietante, no sólo porque el mono de peluche podría usarlo para dominar el mundo, sino también porque si sirve para él también podríamos colocárselo a algo o alguien diferente… Ivan L. Gimeno,FayerWayer
"Obviously, the future of Kinect is about being wired up to a soft toy monkey with a robotic skeleton that can jerkily mirror your actions. Jan M. Sieber and Ralph Kistler’s Monkey Business is both delightful and profoundly horrible." Daily links,Edge Magazine
"Hack a Kinect and then use it to read your movements and make a monkey copy them: It’s an idea so simple and cool that you’re kicking yourself for not having come up with it. Or you did come up with it and you’re kicking yourself for not doing it. Either way, Jan Sieber and Ralph Kistler did do it and it’s both an awesome toy and an awesome play on words." Eric Limer,geekosystem
Geeky Gadgets
Girl Gamers UK
"Just when you thought that people had squeezed the last drop of creativity out of Microsoft's Kinect, something like this comes along."Brian Heater,engadget
"this little dancing monkey hack is definitely the cutest dancer we've covered Elisabeth Fish, PC World
"The video after the break shows the monkey in action for about 1 minute. Then the team go through the build and application of the clever little monkey in a musical/documentary style video. There is also a creepy section where the monkey draws its own skeleton then freaks out.. Enjoy.."Nick Schulze, Hack a Day
"I need to have one of these. Seriously. Everyone should have their own mechanical monkey hanging from their walls that will always wave back when you wave to it. Always there when you'd like to jam a little bit of "Monkey See, Monkey Do" just to pass the time. In all seriousness, the tech behind this cute little mimicking monkey is quite impressive."The Dashhacks Network

photos(c) 2011 by Jan Sieber and Ralph Kistler.
movie (c) 2011 by in+erac+ions production