For 24-hours a day, for 28-days, artist Mark Farid will wear a virtual reality headset, experiencing life through the eyes and ears of another: the Other.

Inspired by the ‘Stanford Prison Experiment’ (1971), Jean Baudrillard’s ‘Simulacra and Simulation’ (1981), and Josh Harris’ ‘Quiet: We Live in Public’ (1999), Seeing I will confine Farid to a gallery space in London, subjected to the simulated life of the project’s Other. With no pre-knowledge of, or existing relationship to the Other, the only details confirmed to Farid will be that the Other is in a relationship and at least eighteen years of age.

For the duration of the project’s 28-days, Farid will experience no human interaction relative to his own life, allowing his indirect relationship with the Other to become Farid's leading narrative. Will the constant stream of artificial sights and sounds start to displace his own internal monologue?

Adapting the question of nature vs. nurture to the digital age, Seeing I will consider how large a portion of the individual is an inherent self, and how large a portion is a consequence of environmental culture. Will the 28-days alter Farid’s movement, mannerisms, personality, memory or rationale? Without freewill to determine who he is, will Farid’s consciousness be enough to deter significant changes?

  • Exhibition

    The gallery, curated by Nimrod Vardi, will contain all necessary facilities for the course of the 28-days: a double bed, bathroom, exercise bike, and a table and chair. This space will be open for audiences to visit onsite and online.

    Farid will live inside this space, subjected to the sights and sounds coming from the headset; he will eat, drink and bath in sync with the Other, isolating him from any human interaction. Provided the headset remains on, Farid is free to do as he otherwise pleases.

    With the aid of augmented reality, Farid will receive visual indications of the gallery’s physical space. This will enable Farid to independently navigate his way around the room to the bed, bathroom and exercise bike.

    For audience onsite, virtual reality headsets will be available to use with their smartphones. By using the device, audience members are invited to share Farid’s virtual life (the recorded life of the Other) in real time, whilst also witnessing Farid’s independent reactions first-hand. Those without smartphones will be unable to partake in this activity.

  • Exhibition

    The gallery, curated by Nimrod Vardi, will contain all necessary facilities for the course of the 28-days: a double bed, bathroom, exercise bike, and a table and chair. This space will be open for audiences to visit onsite and online.

    Farid will live inside this space, subjected to the sights and sounds coming from the headset; he will eat, drink and bath in sync with the Other, isolating him from any human interaction. Provided the headset remains on, Farid is free to do as he otherwise pleases.

    With the aid of augmented reality, Farid will receive visual indications of the gallery’s physical space. This will enable Farid to independently navigate his way around the room to the bed, bathroom and exercise bike.

    For audience onsite, virtual reality headsets will be available to use with their smartphones. By using the device, audience members are invited to share Farid’s virtual life (the recorded life of the Other) in real time, whilst also witnessing Farid’s independent reactions first-hand. Those without smartphones will be unable to partake in this activity.

  • Exhibition Concept

    We take for granted that the 21st Century is domesticated. Mechanically and physically, our audio-sensory experiences have been engineered – from the creak of a floorboard, to church-bells ringing, or an engine revving. Just as the weather adjusts to the environmental impact of humanity, humans have grown accustomed to an artificial reality, curated to the needs of man. Looking out of our windows we see square gardens; beyond our hedges, man has built every building, road, park and field.

    We comprehend and shape this world in our own, distinct image - an image constituted by environmental, cultural and genetic factors. To alter these variables subsequently reforms the individual and how they comprehend the world.

    In this world, our sensations and our awareness of our surroundings are substituted by a fictional simulation. Having known nothing else, we believe this fiction is truth as it is the only knowledge we have encountered. We assume that the physical world is the 'real' world, and, at this point, simulation becomes life. We submerse and surrender ourselves to manufactured sensory input, standing in Plato’s cave, facing the walls and naming shadows, oblivious to the fire outside.

  • Exhibition Concept

    We take for granted that the 21st Century is domesticated. Mechanically and physically, our audio-sensory experiences have been engineered – from the creak of a floorboard, to church-bells ringing, or an engine revving. Just as the weather adjusts to the environmental impact of humanity, humans have grown accustomed to an artificial reality, curated to the needs of man. Looking out of our windows we see square gardens; beyond our hedges, man has built every building, road, park and field.

    We comprehend and shape this world in our own, distinct image - an image constituted by environmental, cultural and genetic factors. To alter these variables subsequently reforms the individual and how they comprehend the world.

    In this world, our sensations and our awareness of our surroundings are substituted by a fictional simulation. Having known nothing else, we believe this fiction is truth as it is the only knowledge we have encountered. We assume that the physical world is the 'real' world, and, at this point, simulation becomes life. We submerse and surrender ourselves to manufactured sensory input, standing in Plato’s cave, facing the walls and naming shadows, oblivious to the fire outside.

  • The Other

    The Other is the source of Farid’s virtual life. From the mundane activities of brushing their teeth and commuting, to going out and enjoying themselves, Farid will witness all: from sitting on the toilet, to their more intimate moments with family, friends and their partner.

    The Other will capture a continuous 180x160° HD panorama of all their immediate sights and sounds, facilitated by an ordinary pair of glasses fitted with covert, miniature camera lenses and microphones. The glasses enable eye-contact (or as close to as possible), so that Farid experiences the intimacy of an eye-to-eye gaze, commonly associated with compassion and increased empathy. As an everyday object, the glasses will encourage people to interact with the Other naturally, normalising the situation.

    We are currently experimenting with different ages, genders and sexual preferences. An open-call submission is below.

  • The Other

    The Other is the source of Farid’s virtual life. From the mundane activities of brushing their teeth and commuting, to going out and enjoying themselves, Farid will witness all: from sitting on the toilet, to their more intimate moments with family, friends and their partner.

    The Other will capture a continuous 180x160° HD panorama of all their immediate sights and sounds, facilitated by an ordinary pair of glasses fitted with covert, miniature camera lenses and microphones. The glasses enable eye-contact (or as close to as possible), so that Farid experiences the intimacy of an eye-to-eye gaze, commonly associated with compassion and increased empathy. As an everyday object, the glasses will encourage people to interact with the Other naturally, normalising the situation.

    We are currently experimenting with different ages, genders and sexual preferences. An open-call submission is below.

  • The Other Concept

    When every moment of an individual’s life is auto-publicised, with no thought given to the concept of privacy, it necessarily follows that there must be an indelible effect on the human psyche, subconsciously adapting to being watched.

    Privacy allows one to live without the fear of social reprisal, living instinctively and protecting the self-validation innate to individuality. But with the Other’s identity, behaviours and actions streamed publicly, lived by an absent but all-seeing and hearing stranger, Seeing I will tackle the dichotomy of our contemporary lives, in which we are willing spectator and spectacle, monitoring the subsequent effects on the Other.

    Just as a film invites us to passively share in its protagonist’s life, Farid will peer into the life of the Other; but, unlike a filmmaker, the Other will lack the authority to edit, cut or re-film their recording. In spite of the clear instruction to live their life as usual, will the Other start to perform or self-censor their actions? Will the 24-hour a day surveillance affect their relationship with others?

    Ultimately, will the Other and their partner be happier broadcasting their life, validating their every decision through the knowledge that everything is being acknowledged, or, will the lack of privacy become too much?

  • The Other Concept

    When every moment of an individual’s life is auto-publicised, with no thought given to the concept of privacy, it necessarily follows that there must be an indelible effect on the human psyche, subconsciously adapting to being watched.

    Privacy allows one to live without the fear of social reprisal, living instinctively and protecting the self-validation innate to individuality. But with the Other’s identity, behaviours and actions streamed publicly, lived by an absent but all-seeing and hearing stranger, Seeing I will tackle the dichotomy of our contemporary lives, in which we are willing spectator and spectacle, monitoring the subsequent effects on the Other.

    Just as a film invites us to passively share in its protagonist’s life, Farid will peer into the life of the Other; but, unlike a filmmaker, the Other will lack the authority to edit, cut or re-film their recording. In spite of the clear instruction to live their life as usual, will the Other start to perform or self-censor their actions? Will the 24-hour a day surveillance affect their relationship with others?

    Ultimately, will the Other and their partner be happier broadcasting their life, validating their every decision through the knowledge that everything is being acknowledged, or, will the lack of privacy become too much?

  • Documentary

    Seeing I will culminate in a feature-length documentary, capturing the entire project from initial tests and preparations to its live performance and the post-project period, including Farid meeting the Other for the first time.

    Both subjects’ long-term mental and physical health are imperative. We will seek physical, neurological and ophthalmological examinations and advice throughout the project, as well as regular consultations with the project’s Psychologist in advance to the 28-days.

    Seeing I is not an endurance test, and if any one of the experts decide Farid should take the headset off, a discussion with Farid - through the headset - will take place, and we will act accordingly. Farid will not have the ability to make this decision himself.

    We do not intend for the documentary to follow an artist doing a project, but rather focus on the project’s implications: the effect of new technologies and surveillance – both social and political – on ideas of the self, and the influence of society on the individual.

  • Documentary

    Seeing I will culminate in a feature-length documentary, capturing the entire project from initial tests and preparations to its live performance and the post-project period, including Farid meeting the Other for the first time.

    Both subjects’ long-term mental and physical health are imperative. We will seek physical, neurological and ophthalmological examinations and advice throughout the project, as well as regular consultations with the project’s Psychologist in advance to the 28-days.

    Seeing I is not an endurance test, and if any one of the experts decide Farid should take the headset off, a discussion with Farid - through the headset - will take place, and we will act accordingly. Farid will not have the ability to make this decision himself.

    We do not intend for the documentary to follow an artist doing a project, but rather focus on the project’s implications: the effect of new technologies and surveillance – both social and political – on ideas of the self, and the influence of society on the individual.



  • Professor Simon Baron-Cohen
    Developmental Psychopathology, University of Cambridge

    “Seeing I documents an extraordinary social psychology single-case study, an experiment in which for one month Mark sees the world only through other people's eyes. All this is possible through new technology. One might imagine various outcomes of this experiment: that he might become more empathic, being other- rather than self-focused; that he might experience distorted perceptions and even delusions, given that his own brain is not receiving its normal input but instead is experiencing a kind of sensory deprivation; or that he might establish that the brain can in fact adapt relatively quickly (hours or days?) to a new reality, and then adapt back again at the end of the experiment, with no serious side-effects."



    The Guardian

    “The point is to discover how adaptable the brain is to another physical body – and whether our sense of self comes from inherent personality or cultural identity. It is, of course, a question philosophy has toyed with for hundreds of years: is the body a mere sensory vessel for the brain, or is identity inextricably linked to its physical manifestation?"



    Artist Gilad Ratman
    Israeli Pavilion, 55th Venice Biennale (2013)

    “One of many aspects of this project that really interests me, is the connection between the reality which is being experienced by Mark and the Other. If I was able to create an identical situation for Mark within the Gallery: temperature, touch, smell, it would be a bad piece of work, because what is happening is exactly linear. What we call Mark right now, is trying to find itself, and this is exactly between the real space and time we are in; everything else is projected into his mind. This must be in collision, and once it is, then we will have something very interesting. Here, as an image and as a situation, any attempt to put Mark into the exact situation where temperature, smell, touch etc. are the same as the Other’s, makes this a boring scientific experiment, but where it becomes Art, is because of the creation of this friction and discontinuity."



    London City Nights

    “Even though Mark will be viewing video through VR goggles, this is still a form of sensory deprivation, the duration and intensity reminiscent of the CIA's astonishingly unethical MK ULTRA experiments. They'd take volunteers, remove stimulus (placing goggles on them that diffused light and headphones that played constant low noise) and confine them for extended periods of time to observe the psychological impact.

    What was discovered was that after prolonged periods of sensory deprivation the subjects would become overly vulnerable to any stimulation. They would find themselves in agreement with whatever they were told, even if they were ideas that they'd have automatically dismissed as ridiculous prior to the experiment."



    The Verge

    “This isn’t escapism. Farid is not trying to live as a famous actor, or a star athlete. For the duration of the exhibition, all Farid will experience will be video and audio captured by a complete stranger, going about their daily life. When they eat, he’ll eat. When they sleep, he’ll sleep. As much as modern technology permits, he will let his individual identity evaporate."



    Professor Barbara Sahakian
    Clinical Neuropsychology at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge

    “My initial thoughts are that it is an extremely interesting project and raises a number of important topical issues about society and our human interactions with technology. It also raises ethical issues, including of personhood and what the effects of reality distortion are on the brain and psychological processes. However, I am concerned about how such a long project which involves voyeurism on the part of Mark and also on the part of the public in regard to Mark will affect his mental health and wellbeing. It could be extremely disturbing and it is unclear whether any potential damage to Mark's mental health could be repaired. I would recommend further trials of the project to get an understanding of possible problems that may arise and what kinds of psychological difficulties might be experienced so that these can be monitored carefully in the longer project."



    Vice

    “For 28 days, Mark Farid will remain in one room, experiencing his every waking moment through the eyes of another human being – a real-life "avatar", who, through some kind of Google Glass-like apparatus, will be streaming everything he sees into a virtual reality headset worn by Mark. Stuck in a doctor's waiting room for hours on end? Mark will see it, too. Out getting smashed till 7AM on a Sunday? Mark will see it, too. Grunting your way through an especially gruelling bowel movement? Mark will see it, too."



    The Independent

    “They [Seeing I] also ask that potential participants consider whether they are comfortable with someone filming and watching a month of their whole life, and with that footage being used in a documentary. The successful participant will be given time with a psychologist before the task, to ensure he or she is up for it, and after."



    Professor Simon Baron-Cohen
    Developmental Psychopathology, University of Cambridge

    “Whatever the result of Seeing I, the documentary will be ground-breaking and give rise to a raft of new hypotheses and methodologies for social psychology to explore more systematically and in larger samples. I am reassured that Mark has taken sensible precautions in case there are side-effects, and one hopes if these occur that they are temporary and reversible. The ethical issues are important, and at a minimum the fact that the experimenter is also the consenting participant makes this more ethical. The documentary will take us on a journey in the tradition of Timothy Leary and Aldous Huxley, experimenting on one's own perception through a manipulation, in this case not pharmacological but technological."



    Mashable

    “Farid acknowledges that it would be more lurid for the film if he started to, in real life, simulate the Other's behaviour. After all, he has no company or stimulation, except for what the Other decides. But he hopes that his theory proves unfounded and nature beats out nurture. He wants to maintain his sense of self."

    The application to be the Other

    Seeing I welcomes all applicants from all backgrounds. However, owing to the nature of the project and our conceptual goals, we favour applicants living a life aligned with the ordinary rather than the extraordinary.

    The ‘Other’ refers to the person whose life Farid will experience for the 28-day period. As the Other, you will be required to wear a pair of glasses installed with covert cameras capturing a continuous 180° field of all immediate sights and sounds. From the minute you wake up, to the second you fall asleep, your every move will be recorded (and streamed to Farid).

    Criteria

    • We are open to ALL ages, genders and sexual preferences.

      We are currently experimenting and trialing different Other's. A test run is set to take place this summer (2017), in which we are looking for 28 individuals to record their individual lives for 24 hours each. If you are interested in taking part, please apply below.

      For further queries, please email tom@seeing-i.co.uk

    Selection Process

    • Stage one: answering the questions below, AND the submission of (up to) a 3 minute video telling us about yourself. (Your information and video recording will only be shared with those directly involved in the production of Seeing I.)
    • Stage two: successful candidates will participate in an interview via Skype.
    • Stage three: you will be told via email whether you have made it through. Relevant paperwork will be sent out and a call arranged to explain next steps.

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