'Sensing the Shining' explores new ways of visualizing the emotional reaction to movies, exemplified with Stanley Kubrick’s classic 'The Shining'.

Current advances in sensor technology, biofeedback and algorithms enable a deep and more thorough analysis of our emotional responses.

Companies like Facebook, Janus, and Affectiva are using an array of sensing techniques to gauge our emotional reaction to content such as advertising and news.

If we are increasingly able to measure and quantify our emotional response to visual content, what kind of new feedback loops between users and content could this create?

Movies are traditionally constructed to evoke emotional responses using surprise, delight or shock. Movie posters are designed to convey these moments in a single image.

Measuring the emotional response of the viewer using GSR technology, ‘Sensing the Shining’ creates a movie poster that takes the content of the movie itself to visualize the emotional reactions of the viewer while watching it.

As an experiment, ‘Sensing the Shining’ creates a new kind of responsive feedback interface for visual content that highlights the emotionally relevant parts of the movie.

Project Details


‘Sensing the Shining’ utilizes GSR technology – the technology used in lie detectors - that measures the speed of electromagnetic pulses between two sensors attached to two different fingers.

The GSR sensor

An emotional response increases the sweat level on human skin which also increases the speed of the impulse travelling between the contacts.

The raw data as measured by the GSR sensor throughout 'The Shining'


The movie is exported with the same intervals as the sensor measurements (0.2 second intervals / 5 frames per second). Each frame's width is then cropped according to the measurement of the data.

Quiet times

Tension mounts

A sudden moment

During the more uneventful parts of the movie, each frame is only shown as a small slice. The higher the measure of the emotional response, the more becomes visible of each frame.

Sudden peaks in measurements create “moments” that enable an almost entire view of the frame.


The cropped images are then stitched together in sequence to create the movie poster collage.

By cropping the movie frames according to the measured data time becomes visually condensed or stretched

According to the measurements of the sensor, emotinally meaningful moments become emphasized while the less exiting parts of the movie almost become visual noise.

Meeting the twins

In its entirety it gives a visual impression of the movie, its exciting parts, patterns and rhythms.

The final image plot

‘Sensing the Shining’ - A new kind of feedback interface for visual content that highlights the emotionally relevant parts of the movie as sensed by its viewer.