Participate in the creation of a book and exhibitions about our interactions with screens and screen-based media.
Participate in the creation of a book and exhibitions about our interactions with screens and screen-based media. Read more
About this project
"A frank and powerful examination of the multimedia age." The Telegraph.
"..this is alarming, as Cooper demonstrates how our perceptions are mediated by technology, so removed from first-hand sensory contact. On the other hand, as I view these entranced and often eerily beautiful faces, why am I reminded of the Mona Lisa? These are portraits as if from the other side, beckoning us into their virtual world." The Guardian.
With this Kickstarter we're looking to fund a campaign designed to engage us, the audience, in capturing and sharing images and video of our interaction with screens, as well as to produce a book and exhibitions.
The project hub will consist of a temporary web portal that will give password protected access to the project management site, to project backers. The public side of the site will enable anyone to share automatically-collected images of themselves, using their webcams. A prompting system will playfully structure and guide more active participation in the project, inviting participants to create "calls" for content, or "respond" by sharing content that they have created. A social media aggregator will collect additional image and video submissions using Twitter hashtags; and a collection of visualizations of submitted content will enable editing and tagging by the community. Participants will be able to upload still or video content from their computers, as responses to calls.
All these functions will be housed in a single website optimized for both traditional and mobile web browsers. The public side of the site will function for the duration of the campaign, at the end of which it will turn into an archive. The project management side of the site will exist for much longer.
Content produced and curated by the community over the course of the campaign will find its way into three kinds of end products, detailed below:
1. Installation videos, interactive exhibits, and grids of framed images.
2. A book.
3. A documentary.
Since 2008 I've been working on a project called "Immersion", where we record people through-the-screen as they respond to media such as video games, TV shows, children's cartoons, movies, porn, horror, music videos, sports, comedy; all the various types of media that we receive and interact with through screens.
The aim is to build up a portrait series that begins with babies and ends with the very old, taking in every type of media content along the way. Screen time takes up an increasingly large part of our lives: babies being born right now arrive in a landscape where computers, smartphones, the internet, and social media already exist, while the oldest generation alive today can remember a time before TV was a fixture of our living rooms.
Immersion is intended to be a complex portrait with depth and scale, light and dark, rather than a campaign or simplistic message. It will include as many age groups, ethnic groups and media types as we can accommodate. It's shot on a Red camera and the end product is hybrid- video as well as still images that are lifted from the footage. So far we've got an age range going from babies to the middle aged and have shot in the US and Europe.
the course of the last few years, I've become very interested in the
potential of large scale collaboration. Since the subject matter of this project is such
an overwhelmingly widespread phenomenon, it seems like an ideal place
to experiment in this area. So I've made the decision to throw the
project open to anyone who'd like to participate.
In order to facilitate the broadest possible range of collaboration, I’ve joined forces with Jeff Watson. Jeff is the Creative Director of the media making game “Reality Ends Here”, which recently won the Impact award at Indiecade. He’s designed a website, which will allow all you lovely people to record yourselves using your webcams, or to submit material from iPhones, digital cameras or other devices.
By creating "calls" the community will be able to create calls for content that others respond to. In this way anyone will be able to significantly change or add to the subject matter covered by the project- the creators of successful "calls" will be credited as editors on the project. Robbie and his team will become responders to calls themselves.
Content generated by the community, that has been released by the author/s and accepted into the project, will be individually credited to the people who created it and will become part of the book, exhibitions etc, existing in it's own section. By creating this collaborative and slightly competitive environment, we're hoping to create a way for anyone to meaningfully contribute to the project. It would be very interesting if this part of the project becomes the dominant or more significant part of the book and/or exhibitions.
Development/ Stretch goals:
The baseline goals of this project are: a) to build and promote the website in order to engage as many people as possible in the creation of a wide range of content types for the project; and, b) to organize on community input in order to curate and prepare gallery installations, publications, and a documentary using content generated through the campaign.
So far the project has been exhibited at the National Media Museum in the UK, CCC Strozzina in Florence, Maison D'Ailleurs in Switzerland, Kunstlerhaus in Vienna and Museum der Moderne in Salzburg. Installations include series of still images lifted from footage and video installations.
As well as organizing our own exhibition/launch party, the project will continue to be shown at public galleries around the world (upcoming is the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow). You will be individually credited in the book, DVD and in galleries, depending on the nature of your creative input. A separate list thanking project backers will be published in the book. Your own video footage and images, uploaded to the project site, may be selected by our collective to be used in exhibits and in the book, if you so choose.
Here's a video interview that was shot in 2010, at the time of the NMM exhibition;
The book is being published by Dewi Lewis publishing. It will have good international distribution and we already have an initial design by Red Design in the UK. There will be two covers, one for the collaborative work and one for Robbie's work, by flipping the book, each cover can be treated as the front of the book. Below is Robbie's cover, featuring an image from the project rendered in ASCII type- if you look closely you can see the title, in blue, in the eye on the left;
The other cover will be done in a similar style. The
book will come with a USB key of selected sequences of footage
from the project. The limited edition book will be larger- two books in a slip case, one of the collectives work and one of Robbie's.
The full implementation of this is a stretch goal. In the event that we go over our target, we'll add more information about this...
The website serves two purposes. First, as an easily-navigable archive for the imagery produced by the Immersion Project; and second, as a tool for capturing images and other content related to the project.
The landing page of the website displays a live-updating grid of images gathered through the project. Images appear in real-time and fade away as they arrive. Clicking on an image leads to its permanent page on the site, where it is displayed alongside information about when it was taken, what the user was looking at when it was taken, and other details.
Participants can also use the website to submit content to the project. There are four kinds of content submission functions on the site:
"Passive Capture" - Passive Capture (or "Share my Webcam") is an inobtrustive HTML5 webcam widget that takes your picture at random intervals while you surf the web, play video games or do whatever you point your web cam at. The pictures it gathers will be shared with the Immersion Project for inclusion -- fully-credited and with your permission, of course -- in the book, documentary, and gallery installations. Through your profile on the website, you will be able to review all the pictures that the widget takes of you, along with the anonymized data that it captures, such as the root URL of the website you were looking at when the picture was taken.
"Call and Response" - on this section of the site, users can call for or respond to photographic/video-making "missions" involving documenting themselves or others engaging with screen-based content. We want this element of the site to be as open-ended as possible, so as to allow for the widest possible range of submissions. Standard image upload tools, text forms for submitting "calls," and a form allowing users to embed YouTube or Vimeo videos will enable this functionality.
"The Prompter" - the Prompter is a page on the website that shows users a random sequence of content -- banal and unusual, crude and sublime -- from around the web and captures their responses to that content at random intervals. All visitors to the site can use the Prompter once they are logged in. Further, participants will be able to submit URLs which will then be included in the Prompter archive. As with Call and Response, we're keeping this functionality completely open in order to allow for as much variability as possible.
"Twitter aggregator" - this page will collect images submitted on the #immersion hashtag from Twitter, allowing for another, more casual, tier of participation.
In addition to these participatory functions, the website will also include a blog/news section that will keep the public updated about the progress of the project, the location/subject of upcoming shoots, behind the scenes footage and other information.
Where the money goes:
The majority of the money for the 20k goal will go towards creating the website to make this happen. A percentage will also cover work that has already been done on this project, as well as producing and sending the rewards. It's worth noting that the book is not self-published, however, we'll need to buy copies off the publisher, dedicate them and send them to contributors. This will not be a profit making exercise.
Risks and challenges
Obviously, any project that involves using the webcam functionality on users' computers can raise privacy concerns. Indeed, our initial thoughts when developing this project involved designing a mobile app for iOS, but Apple privacy restrictions would have severely limited the scope of such an app. Consequently, we have settled on a design that uses standard HTML5/Chrome webcam functionality as the basis of our Passive Capture system. Since the user has to give the web page permission to capture their image, and since capture only occurs so long as the page remains open in a (background or foreground) browser tab, the website will not be derailed by any hardware restrictions. We believe that potential participants will see the value in being a part of this project, but we will need to work to make that value as clear as possible via savvy communications and framing as the campaign gets underway.
Because the website is designed to be built using proven existing technologies, we don't anticipate any deal-breaking problems with the tech development, and expect delivery to occur on or close to the predicted date. The timeline for the book is somewhat less straight-forward to predict, since it hinges on multiple variables, including the pace at which we gather content from the website, the publisher's schedule, and so on. However, it is important to note that this process is already underway.
This will be a truly collaborative effort, so the amount and the quality of our collective material will determine if the book gets pushed back. As mentioned above, the documentary is a stretch goal for this phase of funding, but if we pass our initial 20k threshold quickly, we will look for ways to expedite that component of the project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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