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December 2018

Interactive multimedia installation, smarphone, people


This installation is only visible through the eye of the smart-phone, our magic mind- and body-extension. The ones who dare to send their phone on an adventure are compensated with a little personalized animation film to take home.

Reflections by Benjamin Coles:

At the point of first encounter with the artwork, people, as we discussed, fear being without their phones. Those who decide to proceed anyway do so in the spirit of adventure.

The artwork then notably depicts a sleeping dream - sleep being the definitive and necessary experience of letting go (letting go of rational thought, of which the smartphone is arguably an apotheosis/symbol) - and so, for many people, the only or purest experience of mental adventure and creativity in their day-to-day lives.

As the phone moves further away, the dream quickly becomes darker and scarier, it becomes a compilation of visualisations of fear, one blending into another, until right at the end, when, at the scariest point, the point at which the phone has been away longest, we awake from the dream - the phone is back. The fearful experiences are also stimulating, capivating, adventurous experiences though. That's the benefit of doing what we fear, of letting go.

And, taking this interpretation to another level, it's not just that the loss of the phone represents fear. Our phones (like waking, conscious agency) offer a means of intentional escape from our deep anxieties, and without our phones (without conscious agency - i.e. while dreaming), we are more at the mercy of those anxieties. We cannot escape them so easily. This interpretation is supported especially by the more personal visualisations of fear - e.g. the mouth we disappear into at the end belongs to someone who resembles a person, presumably a loved one, in a picture on the wall in the bedroom at the start. As said though, being at the mercy of anxieties, rather than evading them, is also riveting and pulsating and rewarding.

Another element here is how our phones, through the artwork, become like little versions of us, or we become them. Or we enter into our phones' lives, take their perspectives. Our phones are already substitute friends, lovers, cultures, interests, offices, holidays... Everything is going into our phones! We ourselves are. It shows how we are already cyborgs!

I wonder whether there's an irony to it too - the mocking or showing up of nomophobia that makes use of our phones, and is an illustration of what cool, revelatory things we can do with our phones. It, on the one hand, questions and mocks and, on the other, functions through and so in a way promotes our dependence on our phones. (If someone is so free from being dependent on a phone that they don't even have one, they can't take part, and so they lose out.) I expect that captures your own personal ambivalence about your phone - aware of the amazing artistic and experiential possibilities it presents, but feeling also its darker influences on you.

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