Neosentient: detecting a relaying a visual representation of self and others

Technology as an extension…
Technology becomes an extension by which we experience the world. A plane allows a pilot to experience flight, though he himself is not flying. A telescope gives a sailor a magnified vision of the shore, something which is imperceptible at our current vantage point. A camera allows a person to “see” a loved one through video chat and suddenly they become telepresent. We experience the world through our body, but more and more we rely on technology which transforms it into an extension of our body. In the example of the video chat, the camera physically exists within the space in the place of our eyes. The camera becomes our eyes. The technology detects that experience in some ways but does not have the same level of sentience as we do. The camera technology is detecting particular variables of that reality, such as image and audio, and relaying a representation to us. I am interested in creating an experience in which people come into a critical awareness of this phenomenon of extended experience through technology with by altering the representations which they expect to have.

I am interested in studying each element within this relationship
and each transfer of information which happens (arrows)…

In relation to Neo-sentience….
When thinking about technology as extensions Bill Seaman asked the question, if that technological object had a phenomenology in the way that we do, what would that be like? The neo-sentient is that the technology might have not only aspects of the sentience we have but also new aspects of perception and understanding about the environment.
It is interesting to think about this idea of the phenomenology of a neosentient in reference to the diagram above. The neosentient would not just be detecting and relaying a representation to us but also is aware of their own representation and perception of reality. It could detect one thing and relay something else. (We often feel this way with humans.) It could relay a representation that was endowed with additional pertinent information.

In review of all these things here are some questions:
What if the technology could be sentient of the experience it is relaying to us? If it could have an enhanced way of experiencing that moment more similar to the way we experience how could that change our relationship with both technology and the represented reality? What could be the phenomenology of that camera, telescope, or plane which is the intermediary actually creating the vision, clarity, or flight.

Representations of self // Developing the final project….
A mirror is a simple kind of technology which yields a representation of ourselves and has a high degree of expectation from previous interactions. It lends nicely to a comparison of the way in which we create digital representations of ourselves. It is also an object which represents self-consciousness and self-image.

I would like to create a mirror which replaces or alters the reflection you expect to see.
I am using the mirror as a way to think about issues of how we create and rely on digital representations of ourselves and others through digital technology and the internet.

Below: Simplified diagram of the transfer between the self and the digital representation of self and others. (eg: Could be thought of as a diagram of social media)

Below: We expect a mirror to supply a representation (reflection) of ourselves.

However what if this reflection/representation was partly altered or replaced.

  • watching a mirror means watching yourself, looking at yourself
  • moments of lag of in reflection
  • long periods of lag
  • a mirror gives an image of what is in front of it, but what if it wasn’t in front of it
  • a mirror which gives a reflection of the back of your body not the front
  • glitches in image (like pixels)
  • glitches in image: broken image (mirror)
  • image of someone else
  • replaced body part (technology as extensions of body)
  • enhanced body part (fun house)
  • What is the memory of the mirror? What data does it have?
  • What is the phenomenology of the mirror?
  • Could a mirror also be looking at you? Not just you looking at it
  • parallels self-consciousness (watching self) and self-image
  • People don’t look at mirror but past the mirror right? to see themselves (maybe a mirror as its own object has power in that way, if it had it’s own will, because it could provide a false sense of reality)
  • a mirror which matches your emotion
  • a mirror which presents a version of the current you and the previous digital representations of yourself
  • the mirror as a surface: a mirror which has images just below the surface
  • a mirror which alters the reflection of you and another person, switches them in some way?
  • Think about times that you see a mirror in which there is an illusion which doesn’t exist such as in a store where it looks like the room s extended.
  • what if you were looking in the mirror and whatever you fixated on would morph
  • perhaps the image of yourself shows up somewhere else instead of in front of you, like on the ceiling
  • think about how we rely on the representation in the mirror, ie- seeing what we look like to understand who we are/how our physical appearance is

Stories of process….
Previously I was interested in looking at tangible interactions and embodied experience as a way to contrast with the cognitive and disembodied experiences of technology. I was still interested in experience and digital versions of ourselves, making sense of the world through extensions of technology. I was a little confused as to how to think about this relationship and was having problems approaching it through this way of focusing on the differences between the embodied experience I have in the physical world and disembodied experience I have when I am engaging with technology, such as the computer.

Ranulf Glanville suggested I reflect on situations in which I was having an extended experience through technology but instead of feeling disembodied perhaps I it felt as if it was embodied or as if it was transcendent of embodiment. I identified and actually noticed two particular experiences which happened during skype chats with a loved one. This lead me to think about technology as an extension of the body as well as technology relaying representations of ourselves and another person to us.

Below are personal notations of these experiences…

  1. experience 1: I had a video chat in which I experienced a sense of helplessness in the telepresent moment however I realized it was exactly similar to that which would be happening if I was actually present. In this moment of helplessness all I had was the opportunity to be aware of my feelings and empathetically extending them to my loved one whom I was video chatting with. I caught myself looking at this person and it created a self-awareness of this action. It was an odd experience.
  2. experience 2 video chat: extension of body, I had an experience where I was video chatting with a loved one and they left the room for an extended time. I was busy on the phone while they left the video chat and was not aware, upon returning to the chat screen, that 1.the camera was still on and 2. that the person had truly left. This was an odd experience as I realized there was a hyper awareness in which it felt as if I was in fact in the room. My imagination ran wild and I imagined a situation in which I saw something such as a ghost or an intruder in the apartment. This thought was interesting because it operated off of my expectation to see something in the other side of the frame. Also, it made me aware that in the case of the intruder I would experience vulnerability, though I wouldn’t be physically vulnerable. The technology was an extension by which because of my expectation there was a hyper awareness of the room.
  3. accidental pocket dials This previous experience made me think of when someone pocket dials you and for the first 30 seconds of the message you are listening very closely because you are confused and expecting a voice but get background noise or lots of voices instead. I liked the idea of thinking of the phone as translating voice messages as representations of people/places/times. I also liked how in listening to a pocket dial, the way you listen to the information you are receiving changes as you realize it is not a typical message.
  4. surveillance cameras (connection to 2) I also thought about surveillance cameras and looked at an artists project to surveil her love life. This was through the Exposed exhibit at Tate Modern. She noted that when she went on dates the awareness of the camera created a hyper attention in the beginning but wore off as time went on. I also thought of an experience I had in which I was watching a surveillance output at a grocery store elevator. The elevators were in front of me and I was watching people on other floors.
  5. expectations and representations I thought about a bed which has a form of a person from the blankets and we think it is a person, or a tube which we mistake as a snake. I also like the combination of surveillance and representative physical form in this work I saw by Ryan Roe, called hang in:

About alexandria
Alexandria I. Jarvis Master of Graphic Design '12 North Carolina State University

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