2010 | The Real You | interactive installation
Using surveillance cameras and small monitors, this piece captures and displays four live-fed, real-time versions of the viewer. Exposed cords and electronics make visible (and tangible) the often hidden circuitry that connects increasingly prevalent forms of digital media capture and display. The physicality of the digital equipment draws attention to the fact that such media transforms our reality into a simulated, constructed reality.
The cameras and monitors work together to create a digitized “mirror” for which the viewer experiences four seemingly real representations of her/himself from four different angles. As the viewer looks at the straight-on view of her/himself, he/she might be reminded of the numerous methods of digital self-capture in everyday life, including Facebook profile pictures, video Skype chat, cell phone camera portraits, and YouTube videos. The monitors in the piece that show the side, top, or back of the viewer present a vantage point like that of others’ digital capture, including friends’, family’s, or strangers’ cell phone cameras, surveillance cameras, and Google Earth imagery. Each monitor and camera combination work together to create a “framed” reality, a constructed image of one perspective of the viewer. When viewed simultaneously, the viewer “sees” an all-encompassing, digitally-constructed representation of themselves. Is this how we now “see” ourselves? Do we no longer “see” ourselves as physical beings, but are our self-images digital beings constructed from the vantage point of all of our pervasive digital technologies?
This piece poses more questions than it answers. Are digital, live views of us more real today than the actual selves we inhabit? If being real means we must “be or occur in fact or actually” is a live–feed, digitized version of you from all angles and staring back at the real you more real than the physical you because you cannot in real life see all aspects of yourself? Are digital live-feed videos of us "authentic"? Does digital capture prove to us that we are “absolute” more effectively than feeling our own skin because our lives are increasingly more digital than physical? Do we need digital technology to verify our existence, thus reminding us that we are not imaginary? Or does digital technology transform us from real to imaginary?