Reflexion, developed originally as Reflection of Presence by Stefan Agamanolis, V. Michael Bove Jr., and Alex Westner and continued with a new name by Stefan Agamanolis in collaboration with Cian Cullinan, used the layering of live video images from distinct remote locations as the “magic mirror” metaphor for this interpersonal video communication tool. The audio is presented live and the visual scene is composed by a system that responds to both visual and auditory cues. It exploits these cues to emphasize the center of attention in an effort to improve interaction and communication by enhancing it with the power to respond and adapt to its users. In this sense it creates a type of interaction that is in some way richer than a face to face engagement. Shown above is a three person conversation against a background that was selected by the participants (any image file can be use), where the varying opacity of the segmented individual is a reflective of their level of participation in the conversation.
I joined Stefan and Cian soon after I started at the Media Lab. They were looking to extend Reflexion and for people with ideas and interest in helping them do so. It was also convenient as I was located at the MIT Media Lab and they were at Media Lab Europe, so the networking capabilities of the program could be tested. For me it was more than anything an opportunity to familiarize myself with Isis, a multi-media scripting language developed at the Media Lab. Isis is a programming environment whose software libraries follow a multileve design strategy consisting of interpolated layers that each offer a different level of abstraction. It was designed to support the development of demanding multi-media application and its condensed syntax better reflects the multi-layeres, multi-sensory, and multi-person nature of responsive media. Reflexion and, later, my thesis were both written in Isis.