Face Hack is an interactive game installation employing cinematic content. The player takes on the role of a character in a film sequence. Three cameras and a programmed computer interface capture the player’s face in real time and attach it to the body of the character in the film sequence. The complete image on the screen is the real-time head of the viewer attached to the character in a narrative situation, be it combat or confrontation. Players can then immediately respond by altering their facial expression, making fun with the actions and emotions of the character: the player’s face is interacting with the character’s body in the film. In real-time, the player sits down in a fixed position, the head unmoved to be captured by the three cameras, while facing the game on the screen. The fact that the player cannot move creates a strong dissociation between his real physical body and that of the fictional character.
Your screen-face is free, but you are constantly sitting…
The setup of “Face Hack” constrains the player’s head in a fixed position. He is then presented in a tracked cube, which puts the player’s head in sync with the original film narrative. The player now becomes the character on screen, both literally and figuratively. “Face Hack” enables you to virtually become someone in the film, while leaving your physical body constrained. The cube is responsible for any movement, so all you have to do is stay put and indicate pain using facial expression if desired. This contrast creates a disassociative experience for the player t owards the moving body on the screen and the facial expression that come from the mind especially when some facial expression is call for certain body movement. “Face Hack” are always asking you how you could engage in a situation that you have to express without moving you body.
Unpredictable coming shots
Films are edited shot by shot in sequence. The player is an actor in “Face Hack”. In the production of film, the actor has to act in individual shots, following shot direction as briefed by the director. In “Face Hack”, you are acting in an edited film. As time, space, situation and mood continuously changes, the next shot is always unpredictable. Therefore, you have to immediately adjust your reaction time on screen. Thus, the player would be engaged in a constant thinking process, thinking with their action, thinking with the action taken on the character in the film.
Authoring your style of play, detour the film
Once the character’s head has been covered by the cube, the film has already been detourned. In addition to the player’s play, it has a second level of detournement. Your acts taken on the 3D cube (no matter how remote or stationary) combine with the character’s body to give new meaning to the film content. Moreover, “Face Hack” does not have a concrete rule or a definite goal to achieve; hence players are free to instill their own styles. Thus, they are learning through play, discovering in the process, gaining the favored experience they want.
Who are you willing to be? A hero? Or a loser?
Once you start to play the game, you are under control by “Face Hack” in some sense. “Face Hack” has set you up to become someone else. You don’t have total freedom to choose your favored role. Your character follows the line of narration in the film. It is challenging to test the player’s boundary of acceptance and the nimbleness of mind. Other factors include how much of the role he is willing to identify himself with, how he copes with the reluctance to do so, and/or how he accepts his virtual identity which he would never in the real world otherwise. Ultimately, “Face Hack” takes away the freedom of choice, forcing the player to understand himself in a different way, as his identity is always shifting, shedding light to the problem of how to survive in the gray area between being free and being in chains.