Breathe On Me (2005)

Breathe On Me is an installation/internet work consisting of a three-walled space with a number of hybrid fan/webcam devices affixed to the walls. The "FanCam" devices are modified netcams such that Internet users can control the direction of the fan from the remote webcam view combined with pan and tilt controls. Internet users can choose one of the devices in the space, log onto a FanCam, visually locate visitors in the physical space and then turn on the fan and "breathe" towards the person. Visitors in the physical space are invited to enter a space where they will be remotely seen and will not know who is telepresent. Once seen by internet participants, they will receive an offer of fan “breath’ as a fundamental form of communication. Visitors who enter the space are asking to receive a telepresent stranger’s touch in the form of wind. Internet users reach out to ...

Full Description

Breathe On Me is an installation/internet work consisting of a three-walled space with a number of hybrid fan/webcam devices affixed to the walls. The "FanCam" devices are modified netcams such that Internet users can control the direction of the fan from the remote webcam view combined with pan and tilt controls. Internet users can choose one of the devices in the space, log onto a FanCam, visually locate visitors in the physical space and then turn on the fan and "breathe" towards the person. Visitors in the physical space are invited to enter a space where they will be remotely seen and will not know who is telepresent. Once seen by internet participants, they will receive an offer of fan “breath’ as a fundamental form of communication. Visitors who enter the space are asking to receive a telepresent stranger’s touch in the form of wind. Internet users reach out to physical visitors in the simple offer of moving air.

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Artist Statement

Writing in the 1960s, Fluxus artist Dick Higgins proposed the expansion of the artwork into the everyday world of “super boring” ordinary events. This sent the designating wand of the readymade into undelineated dimensions of time and space. Added to life-time now, is its double, net-time. The webcam replaces the artifice of digital video as a real-time source for artwork, transforming a utopian technological desire for transoptic vision into a slow pulsing succession of grainy frames and the long uneventful moments between spectacles. The banal object, the empty room, and the darkened city tap into the pulse of telepresence, its cycling from being to absence. In other avenues this new surveillance medium extends the optic pleasures of cultural taboo, the sublime distant landscape, the dissolution of private and public spheres. But almost by accident, with staggered frame, the low tech image feed becomes an relentless entrancing and problematic witness, unveiling an Internet subconscious beneath the proliferation of virtual institutions. The magic of telepresence evokes the fundamental questions of existence and subjecthood.

“Rendezvous”: Duchamp’s allusion to the artwork as encounter points towards a generative moment produced by considerations of chance, internal attractions and the construction of meaning. The webcam is most readily understood as surveillance technology, providing voyeuristic pleasure and feeding the problematics of expanding control societies. As image recognition emerges as the next technology of vision control, my work attempts to reposition the problematics of webcam surveillance into the productive gestures (modes) of identification, coincidence and consultation.

With this in mind, my work operates through a series of inquiries, observations, interactions and re-presentations of particularly chosen existing worldwide webcams and installed alterations and configurations of my own design. The format of this work has involved video installation, performance, serial objects, inkjet transparencies and most recently coinciding network/physical spaces.

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