Amputation Box

Interactive Installation (2006), Artists: David Jhave Johnston, Jinsil Seo, Diane Gromala


AmputationBox is an interactive art installation that blurs boundaries between virtual, networked and physical worlds. AmputationBox is also simply a box with a hole on the top. Participants can put their hands into the hole. Every object poked into the hole is visually amputated and redisplayed as virtual organism: creeping or flying flesh. The amputated flesh parts are displayed simultaneously in two different locations: the physical installation and the online website (

In this way, physical and online spaces form a continuum. Interaction with a physical AmputationBox automatically alters website content. The intent of the work is to make palpable the interconnectivity of physical space and networked reality. Symbolically, AmputationBox functions as an aesthetic meditation upon how after death our body parts are redistributed into the earth; by instantaneously and imagistically depicting this transformation it is hoped it will provoke momentary epiphanies.

Hand Box

Finger Box


Face Box 



Technical Description

System Requirements
Custom Created box (size: 24*24*24inch)
LCD Screen (49inch)
Green Screen (size: 23*21inch)
Florescent lights, CCTV camera, MAX/Jitter, Flash


How it works

1. Motion Detection
Users can reference their movement seeing a small screen on the top of the box.

2. Realtime Chroma Key-out
The video processing software Max/MSP detects video motion, chroma-keys out the background.

3. PNG Sequence
The system extracts a PNG sequence with a transparent alpha channel.

4. Upload
This image sequence automatically uploads and is integrated dynamically (as flying critters) into a local and online Flash interface.

5. Animation
Amputated parts are flipped, duplicated and converted into winged ‘critters’ that populate the display screen environment. The website contains and redisplays a reservoir of everyone who has been amputated.


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