Karen Lancel & Hermen Maat

Strait jacket Embrace


source: lancelmaatnl

Straitjacket Embrace! deals with experiences of fear and desire for the other in contemporary public spaces. In our networked society the public space is no longer a space we can leave or exclude.

Interactive Video and RFID installation

Straitjacket Embrace! deals with experiences of fear and desire for the other in contemporary public spaces. In our networked society the public space is no longer a space we can leave or exclude. Through mobile technologies – like mobile phone, RFID – the controlling gaze of public space is everywhere; in our private homes, our beds, and even in our bodies. Lancel and Maat research the networked gaze as a ‘participatory panopticon’. They explore the personal gaze and individual narratives of the connected body; the way we meet and embrace.

For Straitjacket Embrace! Lancel and Maat designed a ‘fictional public space’ with an interactive straitjacket as interface. Here they invite their audience. The interactive traitjacket is wearable, like a second skin, and provides the wearer with both the experience of play and a phobic ‘self-surveillance system’. The space around the straitjacket is sonically created around audible stories, while visually creating a surrealistic panopticon. In their straitjacket Lancel and Maat turn a hidden RFID control system upside down into a private play-zone for your own body.

On RFID control technology

For the interactive straitjacket Lancel and Maat use ‘invisible technology’ called RFID (radio frequency identification). RFID is a system that uses tiny little chip-with-sensors, RFID tags, that provide objects each with an unique identity. RFID creates a wireless network, nowadays used for (product) control and logistics. Through RFID, anonymous strangers can ‘trace’ your private life wherever you go without you ever knowing it. Today these tiny little RFID tags can be found almost everywhere – in our mobile phones, under the skin of our pats, in bracelets and anklets worn by people in prison.

How does the straitjacket work?

The Straitjacket hangs from the ceiling surrounded by camera’s, audio feed and video projections. You are invited to put the straitjacket on and find both it’s enclosing functionality as well it’s natural invitation ‘to embrace yourself’. Through touching the straitjacket, your body becomes an interface. Invisibly in the front of the jacket Lancel and Maat placed not one unique RFID tagbut a hundred of them for you to play with. You ‘trace’ yourself by putting both your arms in the jacket and embracing yourself; by a smart hidden little RFID reader invisibly attached to your hand in the jacket, to ‘read’ the RFID tags. By softly caressing yourself the RFID tags open their information for you.

Left hand – With your left hand you activate projected live video images of yourself on the screens surrounding you. The images are generated by multiple cameras from different angles, connected to the RFID tags. Relating to each RFID tag, you manipulate these cameras, creating a surveillance system or Panopticon turned mad.
While playing in the privacy of the straitjacket your image on the screens is mixed with live video feeds of an audience gazing at you from public space. Your video image is simultaneously presented on a screen in the museum entrance hall. Here ‘you’ gaze at the audience – and the audience gazes back, at both your exclusive situation as well as at their own reactions.

Right hand – Your right hand turns your body into a multi-channel radio-archive.
Your body seems to contain intimate whispering voices of different people telling stories about trying to be safe in public space by being invisible and uncontrollable. For these stories Lancel and Maat had interviews with people who in some way feel excluded from the public space, like people living illegally in the city, prisoners, refugees and people dealing with mental health issues. The main question was: ‘what is a safe place for you in public space?’

The interviews lead to personal and intimate stories about the (im)possibility of creating an own safe place, and the often total dependency for this on strangers. In StraitJacket Embrace! your body contains a mediated memory for these stories on public space experiences.

Straitjacket Embrace! is both a self-surveillance system and a tool for storytelling; creating an audio-visual, immersiveenvironment through embracing yourself.

‘I am part of the networks and the networks are part of me…I link, therefore I am.’ William J. Mitchell, ME++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City.
Karen Lancel and Hermen Maat design objects, projections and digital networks to create ‘meeting places’ in city public spaces. These ‘meeting places’ are designed as seductive, visual performances and installations. Each ‘meeting place’ or social sculpture functions as an artistic ‘social lab’ in which the artists invite their audience as co-researchers. The audience is invited to experiment and play with social technologies; and to reflect on their perception of the city, and their experience of body, presence, identity and community. Through their artworks Lancel and Maat research contemporary social systems in a mediated society; in smart cities and augmented / immersive spaces. For every ‘meeting place’ they deconstruct existing communication technologies and strategies; and design a new innovative, integrated montage and process of embodied and virtual interaction. The ‘meeting places’ are shown internationally in dynamic urban public spaces such as museums, squares, theatre halls, trains stations; among others in the cities of Seoul, New York, Melbourne, Shanghai, Istanbul, Paris, London, Amsterdam. Through audience interaction Lancel and Maat show social portraits of urban mediated life.
Shows (selection) Ars Electronica Linz, Austria // ZKM Karlsruhe, Germany // Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, NL // Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, NL // Transmediale Berlin, Germany // Eyebeam, New York, USA // Artfair Artforum Berlin, Germany // Urban Screens 08, Melbourne, AUS // ISEA 04 Helsinki, Finland // Biennale Villette Numerique, Paris, France // Art Center Nabi, Seoul, South-Korea // Smart Project Space Amsterdam, NL // Chinese European Art Center-CEAC, Xiamen // De Appel Amsterdam, NL // DCC Shanghai – World Expo 2010, China // Technical University of Delft // V2_LAB for Unstable Media Rotterdam, NL // Urban Screens 05 Amsterdam, NL // Dutch Institute for Media Art Amsterdam (NIMK), NL // ISEA Istanbul 2011 Turkey // Banff New media Institute Canada // Second New Media Art Exhibition at Millennium Art Museum Beijing, China // Shanghai International Science and Art Expo, China // The Second Art @ Science International Exhibition/Symposium, Tsing Hua University Beijing, China //
Lancel is currently artistic PhD candidate at Technical University of Delft: ‘Participatory Systems Initiative’ (prof dr Frances Brazier, dr Caroline Nevejan). She was member of the Amsterdam School of the Arts (AHK) research group ‘ARTI’ (Artistic research, Theory & Interpretation) of Professors Marijke Hoogenboom and Henk Borgdorff 2008-2011. Maat teaches media art at the Minerva Art Academy Groningen, and is part of the Minerva Academy research group on ‘Image in Context’ of dr. Anke Coumans. Lancel headed the interactive media art department (IME) at MFA Frank Mohr Institute Groningen (core lecturer) 2005-2008.
Entering The Paranoid Panopticum you will run across your own fixation on control. While you will be able to control the visual by mirror and video- projection, a shift in the perception of reality takes place. Controlling changes into fear of being controlled, maximizing control becomes its own threat. In the Paranoid Panopticum you are haunted by your own mirrored projections. You can play with your own projection in a paradox based on the myth of Echo, Narcissus and his mirrored image. At the moment where Narcissus commits suicide, the mirrored image of the visitor is ‘suicided’. At this point the story starts over again.
The text in the installation is based on an Echo play (1923) by Alfred Kreijmborg. The lines of the characters in the play are spoken by Viviane de Muynck and Hermen Maat. The visual appearances of Echo and Narcissus are alternately played by the mirrored projections of the visitor and actress Viviane de Muynck.
In the installation the visitor is haunted by his own, mirrored projections. These projections start a dialogue with the pre-recorded images and texts of an actress and a male voice. This dialogue reflects on ones self-image and is based on the story of Echo and Narcissus. The multiplication of this image through the visual control possibilities of the mirror, live and semi-live video projection alienates the visitor from his own self(image). When the (projected) visitor meets the (projected) actress, he is confronted with his own fixation on control: Who am I? Who do I meet? How am I manipulated? With what image outside myself can I identify? These thoughts become part of the projected video image. At the same time the work shows the surprised the visitor a painterly video-portrait, in which the image of himself meets the image of the actress. The installation consists of a non-transparent privalite-glass, 1 meter high 3 meter long, which can change into a mirror. Opposite this wall there is a projection-screen. The spectator walks in-between the projectionscreen and the mirror. The mirror is permeable from behind so a video camera can record the spectator. This recorded image is projected on the screen opposite the mirror. As a consequence you see yourself looking over your own shoulder in the mirror. On the projection-screen the recorded images of the visitor are played back.
These images are digitally ‘live’ added in a story played by Viviane de Muynck and the Visitor.
source: lancelmaatnl
Karen Lancel en Hermen Maat ontwerpen ‘ontmoetingsplekken’ voor de publieke ruimte. Deze ‘ontmoetingsplekken’ zijn performances en installaties, die zij ontwerpen als verleidelijke, visuele omgevingen. Elke ‘ontmoetingsplek’ of sociaal sculptuur functioneert als een ‘artistiek sociaal lab’ waarin het publiek deelneemt als ‘co-researcher’. Hier nodigen de kunstenaars het publiek uit om te experimenteren en spelen met sociale technologieën; om zo te reflecteren op hun eigen perceptie van en de stedelijke omgeving, lichaam, identiteit, presence, community. Lancel en Maat onderzoeken sociale systemen in een gemediatiseerde samenleving; in smart cities en augmented / immersive spaces. Voor elke ‘ontmoetingsplek’ deconstrueren zij bestaande communicatie technologieën en strategieën; en ontwerpen een nieuwe, innovative montage en proces van fysieke en virtuele interactie. De ‘ontmoetingsplekken’ tonen sociale portretten van leven in een gemediatiseerde, stedelijke omgeving. De ‘ontmoetingsplekken’ vinden internationaal plaats in dynamische urbane ruimtes zoals museums, pleinen, theater halls, treins stations; van onder andere Seoul, New York, Melbourne, London, Istanbul, Parijs, Amsterdam, Shanghai.
De bezoeker wordt in de installatie achtervolgd door zijn eigen, gespiegelde projecties, die binnen de geprojecteerde ruimte een dialoog aangaan met vooraf opgenomen beelden en tekst van een actrice. Deze dialoog gaat over het zelfbeeld en is gebaseerd op de mythe van Echo en Narcissus. De verdubbeling en veelvoud van het zelfbeeld middels visuele controlemogelijkheden van spiegel, live en semi-live videoprojectie vervreemden de bezoeker van het eigen zelfbeeld. Wanneer de (geprojecteerde) bezoeker een ontmoeting aangaat met de geprojecteerde actrice, confronteert dit met de eigen fixatie op controle: Wie ben ik? En wie ontmoet wie? Wordt ik gemanipuleerd? Met welk beeld buiten mijzelf ik me kan identificeren? Deze gedachten worden onderdeel van het geprojecteerde videobeeld.Tegelijkertijd toon ik aan de gedesoriënteerde en verwonderde blik de schoonheid van een schilderachtig videoportret, waarin het beeld van de kijker en de actrice elkaar ontmoeten.