Dysphasia is an interactive tele-presence project sited in the dislocation generated during the pandemic. It builds bridges between digital and physical space connecting users to places and people geographically distributed around the world.
COVID-19 restrictions are far-reaching and psychologically damaging. We are locked in at home, self-isolating and reduced to purely digital forms of communication, stripped of humanity and tenderness. As humans we are not equipped for such limited communication. We use complex signals in our communication that involve unconscious interactions from body language and a critical sense of presence.
Dysphasia builds on the missing physicality and reflects on the potentials of building a social bridge with physical presence that connects people geographically distributed around the world.
The project reconnects by way of a feedback loop between an online web app and an associated physical installation. Users access the website from private rooms around the world and engage in real-time interactions that can be set in any public space. They watch and remotely control light installations, and thus pay virtual visits to the site and get involved in a non-communicative remote dialogue dealing with presence and feel.
I: Distance, Distancing & Virtual Connectedness
COVID-19 subverts our habitual sense of spatial distance. We are forced to adapt to a new paradigm. How to respond to the disconnectedness we all have felt?
During the pandemic, we noticed that live streamings of public space became popular. These realtime videos evoke the familiar everyday experiences and the heated chat makes up for the missing social interactions to some extent.
Inspired by Bowen’s Tele-present Wind in which the wind in the wild is brought to the gallery through dried plant stalks, under the current circumstances we wonder: can WE be brought to the public space we are viewing in some way, and really feel and be felt?
II: Responsive, Interactive & Non-communicative
A series of footages retrieved from public surveillance cameras were adopted in this early experimental video. We studied the entanglements between humans that can be traced in an ordinary day at an ordinary place.
Distance to Atmospheric Sound
In order to mark the social intertwining of people visually and aurally, we take as variables the number of people in each frame and the distance between them when translating the scene to an atmospheric sound.
IP camera + Webcam
In our second experimental studies, we created a web app that “teleports” the visitor to a live streaming video of some random public spaces.
III: [not] Being Here: A Silent “Hello world”
Our first project proposal was an AR mobile app attempting to teleport virtual visitors to public space via a full feedback loop.
Later we started to emphasise the physicality as we endeavoured to build the social bridge between virtual and physical space by means of an installation and an associated website.
Dysphasia reconnects by way of a feedback loop between an online web app and an associated physical installation. Users access the website from private rooms around the world and engage in real-time interactions that can be set in any public space. They watch and remotely control light installations, and thus pay virtual visits to the site and get involved in a non-communicative remote dialogue dealing with presence and feel.
Instruction Video for Web App
The lighting installation is situated in an underground plaza at subway station in a southern Chinese city. However, the interaction is not site specific and can be set in any suitable public space to welcome virtual visitors to engage in a non-communicative dialogue.
The lighting units have no specific layout restrictions and can be easily adapted to site. The dot representation on the web end is changed accordingly. The projection on the ground shows the realtime number of virtual visitors and helps to engage people in the interaction.
Doris Deng & Bojia You
Supervised by Paul Bavister, Felix Faire
Spring 2021 DfPI, The Bartlett UCL
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