in Research

Research Critique 3 — Paul Sermon ‘Telematic Dreaming’

Paul Sermon’s ‘Telematic Dreaming’ is a seminal interactive installation made in 1992.

In my critique of the piece, I feel ‘Telematic Dreaming’ is conceptually like a video conference call, although it takes the concept of a video conference much further: by projecting the video-image on a specific surface/location,  the senses of the participants are heightened and engaged. Participants are not merely viewing each other through a monitor. The projection of the video-image on a bed allows participants to simulate a physical form of communication. The work is able to recreate the sense of touch and intimacy that is enhanced simply by the setting and the object- the bed. In the reading ‘Cyber Bodies’ by Steve Dixon, it is mentioned that the telematics offer a fourth dimension where the physical body can do things like mapping itself onto another or disappear. “Our bodies seemed to be infinitely mutable, while they never ceased to be our bodies.” Such a dimension and plane of reality allows for the idea of conversation and metaphors to expand further by reinterpreting meanings of certain actions in the virtual context. To illustrate this point, I’ll refer to the experiences of Susan Kozel, what does it mean when a visitor presents her with a rose she is unable to grasp physically? Or when men jumped on the bed where her head is projected? The disembodied electronic body is interpreted differently across all participants: the metaphorical presence is either real or not real to them. Perhaps the visitor felt that the virtual conversation was real enough for him to present a real rose as a response, but the men feel that they are able to act out a different role because they will not actually harm the artist.