Can I see myself without you seeing me?
Tell me, what do you see?
Do words clarify or confuse?
Is ambiguity the enemy of understanding?
Can you say something? is the second in a series of meditations on the illusion that is communicating online. (See the first.) It magnifies the glitching, dropped frames and delay that delete the subtle nuances of human expression and then asks the audience to come closer in order to understand.
The work is a performance specifically intended to be live-streamed with an expected 20 second delay between when a performer commits an act and when the audience sees it.
We then explicitly ask the audience to talk to us, to respond when we call, knowing that they will not see us receive their response for 20 seconds. And so we ask them, will you wait 20 seconds to see me respond?
20 seconds is a long time. It stretches the boundaries of our generosity.
What will you do inside of that gap? Inside of that empty space between cause and effect? Will you leave me? wander off somewhere else? Or will you struggle to stay with me, waiting, guessing, filling up the time with your own imaginings of how I will respond?
When it’s harder to communicate, will you come closer or step away?
What’s going on?
There are 4 layers.
Layer 1: A live video stream of a performer.
Layer 2: A conductor uses sound input to manipulate the live performer video feed.
Using PoseNet, we are able to estimate keypoints on the performer’s video feed: eyes, ears, nose, and shoulders. With these keypoints, we crop the video around different parts of her body to varying degrees of zoom and at varying intervals of time as a way to respond to the audience.
Layer 3: A voice invites the audience to join in a call-and-response exchange with the performers.
Layer 4: A microphone app collects sound input from the audience which in turn is delayed by 20 seconds before it reaches the performers.
The opening sequence. A voice says hello. The audience can respond. 20 seconds later, the performer hears the response and responds.