Social Fabrics: Wearable + Media + Interconnectivity

Negotiations explores cross-cultural communication and interpretation. We developed an interactive system that utilizes blue screen video techniques as a tool for manipulating human bodies moving through unknown environments. The system has been performed in Sardinia, Italy; Sofia, Bulgaria; and New York City. As both a conspicuous costume and a virtual assimilation act, each performance fosters the development of a site-specific story. Recurring themes that emerge include: estrangement and integration; cultural economics of "authority"; placidity of legality, territory and ownership; and mediation of experience.

The Negotiations system uses available computer and surveillance technology to create the real-time video. Two characters embody the system, an Alien (in blue) and an Authority (in black). Each has a video camera linked to a computer embedded in the Authority's costume. Custom software composites the two video streams to create a negotiated final video. The resulting imagery is solely from the Authority's point of view wherein the Alien has been replaced. The Alien carries a small monitor where s/he and passers-by can view the final “negotiated” video as it is being created in real-time. It becomes the focal point, allowing relationships to form during performances and highlighting the double-consciousness1 of cross-cultural communication.

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Updated 22 July 2009