FloatScanner (2003/4) is an installation and performance by Hermen Maat.
FloatScanner is a play with two participants. The first participant lies in a waterbed on a blacked-out boat. His perception comes from surveillance cameras outside and inside the boat. The second participant, on the shore, manipulates this perception.
Lying on the waterbed of the boat, participant 1 can manipulate the direction of the camera, like with a periscope. During the approximately twenty minutes trip, both cameras scan the surrounding of the boat and the body of participant 1, meticulously uncovering the process of detachment of the body and the surroundings. FloatScanner scans the process of detachment and boundlessness.
Leisure activities have become one of the major economic forces, a force that penetrates different levels in our lives. Simultaneously with leisure activities a control-economy became a force that gives direction to the way we live. As with leisure activities these forces determine the way we design our public space. People are looking for new experiences as leisure activities, with the consequence that city centers change into controlled 'fairground attractions'.
FloatScanner: The boat is a metaphor. A means with which you can experience your own 'fading a way'. See how it is to 'vanish' from yourself and your surrounding. To do this you have to let control float away, give it away.
You are always conscious that you gave control to someone who is manipulating your experience. The FloatScanner is a confronting experience, where voyeurism and exhibitionism are connected.
'Through this entanglement, exhibitionism and voyeurism transform illegitimate pleasures to legitimate pleasures.'
(Quote from Pleasure and the Panoptic Principle by Peter Weibel)
FloatScanner is a play with two participants.
Participant 1 - boat
A participant is invited to make a journey on the canals of the city with a blacked out boat.
He lies on a waterbed in a tent. The waterbed cushions the experience of the boat's movements through the physical space. For the perception of what is happening in this physical space he is depending on a surveillance camera mounted outside on the boat. The images of the surveillance camera are projected above his head on a projection screen. These images are mixed with what a surveillance camera inside the boat scans; his own body. Thus finding yourself in a closed space, observing yourself floating in the mediated surrounding of the boat. The body is transferred into a mediated reality, in which it can float.
In this there is a dichotomy; the physical body in a blacked out space on the one hand, on the other end the represented body that floats through its surroundings. The physical experience is detached from the rational understanding of the surroundings. FloatScanner plays with the floating apart of these two worlds, thus making the participant lose more and more control on his surrounding and himself. The identification with a self-center which generates meaning to the world around us evaporates, disappears.
Participant 2 - shore
The process of detachment is manipulated from the shore by a second participant. Images of the surveillance cameras are sent to the shore, manipulated by participant 2 and sent back. This makes the surveillance camera images even more surreal. For the manipulation the second participant has several scenarios at his disposal. Point of departure will be the monologue 'Not I' by Samuel Beckett. In this text there is an ultimate panic through which the control on the perception is abandoned; "Incapable of deceit... or the machine... more likely the machine... so disconnected... never got the message... or powerless to respond... like numbed... couldn't make the sound... not any sound... no sound of any kind... no screaming for help for example... should she feel so inclined... scream... [Screams.]... (...) ...but the brain still... still sufficiently... oh very much so... at this stage... in control... under control... to question even this...."