Screening / 13 Eyes
- Abstract: 13 Eyes is an interactive installation that dynamically assembles monumental portraits of visitors by fusing together fragments of their respective faces. The resulting triptych conjures up imaginary beings at the intersection of familiarity and alterity. By sharing the microsocial space of the installation, (v)users’ self-representations blur with others in an uncanny fashion. Thus, the installation is an invitation to discuss the mediation of our self-image by technology and society and by our own vanity and fear.
The installation itself is a sculptural assembly of 13 obsolete, but fully working, iPhones. The devices are controlled by a hidden master charged with surreptitiously taking pictures, remotely manipulating them, and displaying the results. By invoking the ubiquity and cultural significance of the iPhone, the installation questions our relation to status and obsolescence, but also to surveillance and self-representation.
This artwork creates dynamic composite visuals that are neither fully generative nor entirely representative. Instead, the dynamic hybrid portraits inhabit a liminal space between familiarity and alterity. Visitors can recognize portions of their own corporality forcibly being merged with that of others. This creates a malaise that invites them to consider the human beings around them and the ways by which they are being collectively (mis)represented.
Who is it that I am sharing a face with? This performative quality of the installation extends the actual artwork beyond the interactive device to include the whole physical space and, more to the point, the visitors inside it. This creates a forum for the interactors to consider the ways through which technology mediates both the representation of self and of others. By using a cultural icon such as the iPhone, I hope to kickstart a necessary discussion about technology, about how it surreptitiously permeates and overtakes our human interactions and about how we hastily dispose of it when fashionably obsolete. In other words, this artwork’s strength not only lies in its aesthetic qualities but perhaps even more in its ability to bring about a shared discursive space.
- Biography: Jean-Philippe Côté creates interactive art from technological trash. His installations have been built from obsolete ATM screens, antiquated pen plotters, discarded laptops, archaic security cameras and outmoded iPhones. By de-scripting technical artifacts, his work imagines alternate futures for the e-waste our societies leave behind. Despite this dramatic undertone, his installations are interacted with in a playful and poetic way.
A recurring theme in his work is the mirroring of the visitor’s body. By exhibiting distorted, hybrid, blended and liminal representations of the self, his artworks are underlining the dislocation between who we are and the ways in which we present ourselves in a world heavily mediated by technology.
While he is a hardware tinkerer, it is through software that he transmutes old devices into art. He is a respected contributor of the open source community, especially in the fields of creative coding, networked music and physical computing. In short, his artistic approach allows him to reshape reality through a combination of technical appropriation, software remediation and algorithmic serendipity.
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