An interactive artwork featuring defamiliarized cellphones.
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An interactive artwork featuring defamiliarized cellphones.

Project Description

Every once in a while, a new technology (e.g. the Polio vaccine) makes the world a better place without demanding some sort of major trade-off. More often, however, our advancements require that society shift to accommodate their less desirable effects. ThreeYearContract calls our attention to the impossible promise of the cellphone: simultaneous presence both here and somewhere else.

TYC is comprised of two identical interactive objects. These objects appear to be plain wooden blocks with the basic proportions of an oversized smartphone. Each unit is placed in the center of a small carpet that sits on the ground, and these carpets are installed in two separate public areas. The work is battery operated, so the location of these installations is quite flexible and could even change over the duration of an exhibition.

When an audience member kneels on a carpet and places their forehead against a block, they activate the unit and cause it to make a call to its counterpart. The second unit responds by vibrating, and can be answered when another audience member places their forehead against it. The call is ended when either participant stands up.

Though non-participating observers can hear one side of the resulting conversation, they cannot hear the audio originating from the device. This is due to the use of a bone conduction transducer; a device that conducts sound to the inner ear directly through the skull. The absurd visual produced by interaction with TYC is intended to inspire critical reevaluation of our ubiquitous communication devices, and the ways that this technology controls how we interact with one another.