‘Seeing-I’ is a social-artistic experiment questioning the relationship between the individual and culture whilst measuring the balance in influence by society on the construction and shaping of an individual’s identity. The project, inspired by great thinkers and pioneers such as Josh Harris’ ‘We Live in Public’ and Sherry Turkle’s ‘Alone Together’, looks on a changing world through the use of digital technologies and examines their effects on our reality and experience.
For consecutive 28 days Mark will live someone else’s life (The ‘Input’) but will never leave the gallery space. Mark will experience the life of another through digital technology and will be conditioned by it 24/7; he will eat, walk, shower and sleep with it, being subject to someone else.
Over the course of the 28 days, Mark will have little to no physical human interactions; he will not be heard; will be looked at in the eyes; and will not be touched by anyone. He will be on his own with no reference points to validate any questions, desires or thoughts he may have, experiencing reality only through the Virtual-Reality (‘VR’) set he will wear.
Someone else’s real life, but none of his own.
He will eat the same foods, drink the same drinks but will he experience the same life? Will the lifestyle of the input influence Mark’s characteristics, mannerisms, memory, and personality, and to what extent? Will he lose his own identity whilst acquiring a new one, one which he got used to? Does the lack of freewill will eventually determine and shape who he is or will the notion of consciousness and self-awareness be enough to counteract this?
At the end of the 28 days, we will know how strong these factors on our lives are, how our personalities are shaped by means which are out of our control and to what extent we are accustomed to our own experiences without considering the agents and mediators taking a significant role in the production of habits, thoughts and experience.
These 28 days are the second phase towards the production of a fill length documentary film examining the notions mentioned above. We are currently speaking to universities, who are currently doing research into this field. We are also in communication with multiple psychiatrists, psychologists, neuroscientists and philosophers who will offer key expertise for the range of topics discussed over the course of the project. These discussions – before and after the 28 days – will be an integral addition to the documentary, as well as offering a way for any of the contributors to enhance their own research.
This part of the project is in itself is made with artistic intentions but must also be considered as scientific in its nature which offers a significant in depth look onto cognitive complexities.
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WHY IS THIS ART?
Farid is an artist using performative media to explore contemporary ideas of identity, reality and narrative whilst pushing the boundaries of artistic actions and philosophical ideas.
Reflecting on various projects looking at the transformation of identity using digital technologies, such as ‘We Live In Public’ by Josh Harris Farid attempts to engage with a more broader spectrum of experiences and subject/immerse himself completely to the life of another person and the implications of digital technologies.
As the project is mainly artistic in its essence, the idea is to create a gallery-lab environment where the artist will live, eat, drink, shower and sleep for the duration of the 28 days. The project takes reference to artists which works are perforamtive and durational such as Tehching Hsieh, Marina Abramovich (‘512 Hours’) and Josh Harris (‘We Live in Public’) along with those which offer an intimate insight such as Sophie Calle’s various private investigations.
The project also raises questions of intimacy, surveillance and voyeurism in contemporary culture and gives an uncensored look into intimate moments of one’s life; when Big Brother meeting Gogglebox.
WHY IS THIS SCIENCE?
As digital technologies take a more dominant place in our lives, we become more oblivious to our experiences and how they affect our body, mind and ways in which we see the world. As we spend more and more time looking at screens our perception of the world changes, our perception of the other changes.
‘Seeing-I’ explores these notions and give way to an in-depth research where Farid will act as a lab-rat and will allow scientists and technologists to take part and contribute to important research.
Conditioning the body to such immense experience may cause Farid’s eyes and brain a permanent damage which in this case probably affects us all as well.
WHY 28 DAYS?
Due to the amount of current documentation stipulating that we lose and develop habits after three weeks, we have decided that four weeks is an adequate timeframe to give an indication of how these new habits are adopted.
Mark will be watching the footage from the Input 6 days in the past. This allows the crew to prepare the food Mark will eat and drink. Mark will eat, shower and go to the toilet when the Input does, which enables Mark to have no interactions with anyone, except for with the psychologist over the 28 day period. Consequently he will only experience human interaction through the Input.
SETTING IN THE GALLERY
The gallery space will be the home for Mark for the 28 days. He will enter the space with the virtual reality (VR) glasses and headphones on not knowing his new surroundings. The space will be comprised as an ordinary room with a bed and table plus shower and toilet. The gallery space will be open to visitors online and offline looking at Mark from behind a glass window. The audience will not be able to communicate with Mark and will only be able to see what he sees after the 28 days in order not to disclose the identity of the other person.
Virtual Reality equipment is not a new but recently been brought back to the attention with the development of Oculus Rift for the wide public. Oculus Rift and other VR headsets have started to flow into the market giving users new ways to experience the digital world; from games, to browsing, watching films and making love, all by yourself. Our world is slowly shifting inwards into an individual experience, directed outwards by the different social media platforms we see and use more and more.
The VR set allow for a total immersive experience into an environment that simulates the physical presence of places in the real world, thus making the user loss orientation on one hand, and discover new world on the other.
Mark will lose his own life and will be introduced to a new one. Virtual but real, His but someone else’s.
The ‘Input’ refers to the person whose life will be lived twice; by himself and by Mark. The input will be wearing a set of ordinary looking glasses which will be installed transformed into a camera, recording in 180 degree 24/7 for a consecutive 28 days. Everything will be recorded, from the exciting and intimate parts to the most boring and mundane activities; brushing teeth, to eating and going out to a pub and will only take them off when he goes to sleep. His friends will become Mark’s friends, his world will become his. Mark will slowly get used to someone else’s life, but how much would he be immersed in this?
The input will be similar to Mark in order to create a somewhat familiar environment which will not be too much different from Mark’s world, therefore it will be a young, white male.
The input will be chosen through a selection process where anybody can nominate themselves to the project.
Seeing-I is a very complex project examining not only the way we experience the world digitally but also how our habits are conditioned by technology. The end result is unknown for everyone, and can have various implications of Marks physical and mental health.
Currently Mark is undergoing sessions with a psychologist, specifically for this project researching the possible reactions he might have. Through these sessions, we can assess what Mark’s current mental state and can then methodically compare how the events of the 28 day project have affected him. Mark will have a full medical check before and after this period, and will be required to talk to a psychologist for one hour a day for the 28 days (whilst still wearing the VR glasses). Medical personnel will be on standby throughout the project.
We have already spoken extensively to neuroscientists, and will continue to do so until the documentary is made, but also welcome additional research by anyone who would like to be involved with the project. Extra analysis and examination will need to be discussed to make sure it does not hinder our core ideals, but we are very open to further contributions.
The findings, whatever they may be, will be compiled into a documentary covering the entire project; the 28 days and the time after. Footage of Mark’s experiences during the 28 days along with t a series of interviews from before and after the event. The documentary will seek to give an objective look at the project and allow the audience to see the implications on his world. The interviews will feature various professionals from different disciplines to share their thoughts and ideas of the project along with the media and press which will cover the project.
This is a very ambitious project, so there is a lot to take into consideration when it comes to cost. Mark will require a team of medically trained invigilators at all times over the course of the 28 days as well as camera men, technicians and assistants on site 24 hours a day. This means sleeping accommodation and amenities must be provided for them on site.
Onsite editors will be present at all times to edit the footage of the Input’s life to ensure that there are no glitches, note down when the Input showers, goes to the toilet, eats and drinks. This job is crucial as the appropriate food must be prepared on time, and staff must be aware of when Mark needs to shower or go to the toilet in correspondence with the footage he is viewing.
The glasses the Input will wear currently do not exist and the cost of developing them is an issue. We are working closely with a glasses designer who will encase the electronics accordingly and design the glasses in such a way that no one is aware of the cameras or microphones. For this we will need a team of electricians to build them, with who we are currently in early contact.
This is to name a few of the costs, just to give you an idea of the size of this project.
The only way this experiment and documentary will go ahead is if we acquire the funding by other means, to ensure the findings remain truthful and unbiased. For these reasons, we are launching the campaign on KickStarter and it is through this crowd-funding site that we can both maintain creative control. We do also plan to open discussions with organisations that are looking into this topic area to help with funding and their own research.
For more information visit http://www.seeing-i.co.uk