Sermon in Interview at the Ars Electronica Center Linz January 1997
1. Paul, how does "Telematic Dreaming" exactly functions and what's
the kick of the project in your opinion ?
Telematic dreaming functions like a mirror that
reflects your image within another persons reality. The basic technical
system consists of a camera situated above a Queen size double bed. The
camera receives an over-head view of the bed, which is fortunately of equal
ratio to that of video format. The image of the bed, and someone lying
on it, is sent via ISDN lines and teleconferencing systems to a video projector
situated above another bed, in a geographical distant location. The live
image is projected down on to the bed and so with it the live life size
image of the person. Another video camera situated next to the video projector
sends an image of the projection, and second person lying on the bed under
the projection, back to the first bed. Telematic Dreaming raises and addresses
many questions, but above all it is the question of consciousness that
interests me most. The visual image of the bodily form on a bed allows
the users consciousness to race back and forth between the cause and effect
of their remote and local body form. It is a means of extending consciousness
through a technological extension of the body.
2. How important is the role of the spectator ?
The spectator or user is central to the installation.
Without them the bed is an empty space of potential. When entering the
bed space the user becomes the voyeur of their own spectacle.
3. Present/Absent - the bodies "meet" somewhere in the digital network.
Does Telematic dreaming create a new relationship with the body ?
The bodily form encapsulates our consciousness.
I believe it is possible to extend our consciousness beyond it, as in a
telephone conversation or e-mail message, but we are a long way off the
conception of it. The bodily form as a signifier is still necessary to
identify and locate our consciousness at a distance. Therefore I am not
concerned with escaping my form but rather to look back and observe it
at a distance from the outside.
4. Touching as looking, looking as touching - what does this concentration
on one sense mean to you ?
The human senses are as malleable as is the language
that defines them. All sensory input definitions are a construct of language,
which itself constructs our reality. Just because language dictates that
we touch with our hands and see with our eyes doesnt mean thats all. Its
absolutely conceivable that we can also see with our hands and touch with
our eyes in just the same way, its a mater of manipulation and definition.
5. Paul, this project is a classic in the field of media art nowadays.
On which projects/themes are you working in these days ?
Telematic Dreaming is more than a piece, a project
or an installation. Since its first realisation in 1992 it has kept me
busy, both practically and mentally. Its simple, and Ive kept it that way
ever since. Ive been knocking around with projects and ideas on the periphery
of it since. But dare I say it (its been said so often) - the Internet
is for me the most interesting point of departure now, and in many ways
Im looking for a mutation within the Internet, a point at which I can intervene,
which is occurring in the development and combination of live video, real-audio
and Internet chat environments.