Imprisoned 囚

Fall 2018

Project Brief

An interactive performance work powered by Microsoft Kinect and Processing

The work incorporates sight and sound to express the somewhat eternal sense of being imprisoned by the surrounding and portray the process of getting alone. The visual effect of entangled nets and threads around the performer is real-time controllable and  reacts to the performer’s strength of breath. The work borrows the Chinese character “囚” in its visual form – a man trapped in space. The work also borrows a quote from “Life, Life” by Arseny Tarkovsky, as the finale - “I was, I am, and I will be”. This is Imprisoned.

Designed & Implemented by Yufeng Zhao & Zeping Fei.
Performed by Zeping Fei.
Instructed by Aaron Sherwood.

Done in Fall 2018 for NYU Abu Dhabi Interactive Media Program.

Design Research

An interactive Performance piece is composed by audiovisual effects, choreography, and interactions. Referenced works are commercial VJ works and artistic performances.

Click on the referenced images to view the source.


To build dynamic visuals, fluid simulations and particle systems are common approaches. The technical development of such either requires from-scratch understanding of physical simulations or less controls if using an existing frameworks.


The audio is either generative or, more likely, composed given a fixed length. Ambient or techno music/sound effects are often picked due to its nice fit to the mysterious relation between the performer and visual.


In terms of choreography, the performer often makes exaggerated moves with embodiments of rather pure intentions. The methodology applied is to follow the flow of the body’s original rationale corresponding to the audiovisual effects and the subject matters, unleashing the undermining emotions in motions. 


Interactive Art and Embodiment is referenced for the excellent analysis on the Implicit Body Framework. When designing the physical interactions in relation to the digital world, a solid exploration in body embodiments configuration is essential. The craft of configuration has a significant weight for interaction pieces. Common approaches are cameras to capture motions and microphones to capture voice. Projection mapping is also a strong tool to establish the links with aligned coordinates.

Concept Development

Imprisoned  is an interactive performance which portrays a person struggling in his own space. Thoughts visualized as nets and strings from within one's mind entangle one. Breathing hurts and blurs out the chaos. 

The Chinese character  (imprisonment) can best express the theme in which  (human) is trapped in  (trap or space).

In the end, the puzzle is realized as an unescapable myth. Borrowed from "Life, Life" by Arseny Tarkovsky, the performer speaks out the monologue: “I was, I am, and I will be.”

Concept Mindmap


This visual is mainly powered by KinectProcessing, and some relevant libraries (OpenCV, OSC, Syphon). Souce code is hosted on Github.

The audio is a pre-composed piecewith gathered online license-free sound clips. Listen to it on SoundCloud.

The actual performance was held at NYU Abu Dhabi Art Center. Check it out on Youtube.

Prototypes of Visual Design

Data Flow of Final Implementation

Iterative Contours and Silhouette

Final Implementation for Nets Visuals

Final Implementation of Threads Visuals

Experiment with Threads Visuals

Other works

Using Format