interactive installation

Production : Cyland MediaLab,
VGC (Vlaamse Gemeenschapscomissie) (BE), Adem vzw (BE)
With support of : iMAL asbl/vzw, Brussels (BE), Flemish Ministry of Culture

Programming and engineering - Aleksey Grachev, Sergey Komarov, breath detector - Interface-Z

"Breathless" is the name of the interactive installation. The name itself is borrowed from Jean-Luc Godard, one of my favorite directors.

The name also refers to one of the functions of the installation - the visitor's breathing is part of it.

I have always been interested in Human Psychology. What makes people do certain things? It is known that some of the most powerful emotions are fear and pleasure. These two stimuli are motors that motivate people to action. The society, the states have long mastered this truth and they use it perfectly for their own purposes. Just like the mass media, which skillfully manipulate public opinion and create an atmosphere of either fear or joy depending on needs.

Mass media are omnipresent, they accompany us, they shape our vision of life. And if to add to the usual mass media such as television, newspapers, magazines, radio – Internet, their influence became dominant. My installation consists of three light sculptures. the first two objects are connected to the Internet by means of a computer, and getinformation input from RSS - a generalized summary of the site, which serves to describe news, changes, announcements in newspapers, blogs, in television on the Internet.

The first sculpture reads all the words associated with fear, and the second all that are associated with pleasure. The number of words found affects the intensity of the lighting. One word - one line of light, repeated many times one word can cause the sculpture to glow completely. All words, that a specially written application finds, are highlighted on the text displays at the top of the objects. The third sculpture represents the environment. Its light variability indicates the level of noise pollution.

All three objects have their own lives; they light up, they brighten, they dim. But they have another common feature that the anemometer provides.

the visitor can, with his/her breath, interrupt the endless process of both - light and text. The type of glow changes - all lines start blinking, and the words on the display turn into unreadable characters.

Breathing is one of the most important functions of our body, and at the same time it is an important symbolic act, about which many myths tell. Everyone knows the expressions - "Breathe your soul into what" - revive, "revive smth." “Put your soul into what” - give all your strength, for example.

And also important, this action is only possible if you are in the exhibition hall. In the modern world, when technologies give unlimited power to those who have them, man has become powerless against the mass media, and the only possibility - how to resist this machine - is a physical presence, which we observe all over the world - as it was in America, in France - yellow jackets, and now are happening in Belarus.

The installation  Breathless has all the characteristic features of Dementieva's style such as programmatic interactivity, the aspiration to make the viewer both the protagonist and the  creator of a work, who is indispensable to its existence, and at the same time the absence of pressure on the viewer, who is always given the choice whether to actively interact with a work or to pass by.
The installation consists of three interactive objects which can be made to radiate light. Two of them are directly connected to an RSS news feed, which keeps track of around 50 newspapers and magazines, the content from which is passed to the objects through a computer. Its program is set up to search words and notions related to the concepts of fear and desire. The first object represents fear and the second desire. If the machine finds one word associated with fear an arc of light flashes from the first object. If it finds several on different news portals the lighted arcs multiply making the light spiral upwards. The more words, the brighter the object. The words themselves appear at the top of the object. In parallel and in a similar manner the notion of desire is visualized. The third object functions following the same principle. It is wirelessly connected to the street and the number of its diode lines illuminated depends on the levels of both noise and air pollution. Additionally, inside each of these three objects an anemometer, a device used for measuring the speed of wind, is installed. The viewer who has ventured into the cabin can blow on the device transforming the work with his or her breath, influencing the lighting and mutating the words into meaningless marks. A simple act of breathing becomes important, symbolically affecting the surrounding environment.
All in all, we are presented with a peculiar diagram displayed on the three interactive objects. The heights of its columns, which represent statistical indicators, indicate the levels of fear and desire against a background of environmental pollution. All these indicators can be glibly discarded by simple human breathing.

Elena Selina

breathless from alexandra dementieva on Vimeo.