Test_Lab: Intimate Interfaces
Create electronic circuitry on bare skin, enter a digital network by wearing a veil, see through clothing without X-Ray vision. Test and debate some truly new forms of techno-intimacy in this edition of Test_Lab!
Featuring: Studio Roosegaarde and Maartje Dijkstra (NL) | Karen Lancel and Hermen Maat (NL) | Bare Conductive: Isabel Lizardi and Matt Johnson (UK) | Lucy McRae (NL) | Opening: Franco 'Bifo' Berardi (IT)
An intimate relationship consists of a private world shared by an individual and his/her significant other(s). According to sociologist David Cheal, this private world is defined by its need to be continuously maintained. From flowers and letters to emails and text messages, throughout history people have used a wide range of artefacts and interfaces to remind significant others of their significance. The design of those artefacts and interfaces, however, has focused almost exclusively on the mediation of symbolic and verbal acts of intimacy – and yet physical intimacy and presence are among our strongest expressions of significance. Given the abundance of communication and tangible interface technologies currently available, it is striking that none of these have fully succeeded in the mediation of physical intimate acts.
Artists and designers have steadily addressed this issue in the recent past by redesigning network and communication technologies for the mediation of physical intimate acts. However, these have at best succeeded in replacing existing forms of physical intimacy with poorly fulfilling technological simulations and substitutes, such as cybersex and telepresence. Ultimately, this only strengthened the general view that true mediated physical intimacy is science fiction. Due to a shift in focus from trying to model existing forms of physical intimacy to designing truly new physical intimate acts, more recent artistic explorations – especially in the realm of tangible interfaces – have proven to be much more promising. In these explorations, intimacy evolves out of complex systems, where new technologies, innovative materials, and the human body coalesce to initiate and inspire hitherto unimaginable types of interpersonal engagement.
This edition of Test_Lab presented the outcome of these artistic ventures into technology-mediated bodily intimacy. In demonstrating their works, artists and designers have shown and tested their radical reconsiderations of the ways in which body, material, and technology together shape our intimate lives. Exemplified in demonstrations of the innovative Bare Skin Safe Conductive Ink, Karen Lancel and Hermen Maat's Tele_Trust data veil, and a preview of Studio Roosegaarde's project Intimacy, the topic was further elaborated upon by 'body architect' and artist Lucy McRae, and philosopher and media theorist Franco Berardi. As it is custom to Test_Lab, the audience was invited to try out the presented works. Can these explorations lead to truly intimate interfaces?
For the preview of "Intimacy", the model was Kimora - Jimmy Model Management, make up: Joyce Kern