Research and Feedback:
This week I have talked with many different people about my project. I have received a lot of feedback and references for additional research materials and inspirations.
I talked with Uri Berger, a friend of Shir, who did his Ph.D. on disgust. The conversation was fascinating. He walked me through different disgust theories and helped me better understand what can cause this feeling we have towards rats.
I also talked with Marina and Mark Dion on my concept and received extremely helpful feedback from them.
Movie: White God, 2015
Book: More Cunning Than Man: A Social History of Rats and Man by Robert Hendrickson.
Movies: Willard 1971
And its sequel Ben 1972
Artist: Catherine Chalmers (film animals).
I also contacted Arturo Vidich, who did Body Island, and we scheduled to talk today.
See here: http://www.arturovidich.com/body-island/
This past week I have done a lot of testings with my rats. The first thing I wanted to examine was how fast can they understand a simple task. I tested If I could quickly train my rats to touch an object. Here is the first training session:
It seems like they understand what they need to do very fast, but their learning still needs to be reinforced by repetitions.
Building a cardboard prototype:
I built an arena that will enable me to test if it was possible to track the rats with computer vision algorithms.
It was important for me to create an arena that will be assembled and disassembled quickly. The video below depicts the rats being detected. I used processing’s Blob Detection library in order to achieve that.
In addition, I tested if I can detect their movement with an IR sensor. It seemed to work most of the times but not if their abdomen part would be in front of the beams. I assumed that because of their arched belly, it allows enough infra-red light to cross through. If I will use IR sensors, I will have to locate them in such way that will hit the rats’ main body mass.