Seeing I, 2020: For 24-hours a day, for 14-days, artist Mark Farid will wear a virtual reality headset, experiencing life through the eyes and ears of one person; hearing only what they hear and seeing only what they see for two weeks.

Inspired by Psychologist Philip Zimbardo’s ‘Stanford Prison Experiment’ (1971), Philosopher Jean Baudrillard’s ‘Simulacra and Simulation’ (1981), and Artist Josh Harris’ ‘Quiet: We Live in Public’ (1999), Seeing I will confine Farid to a gallery space, subject to the simulated life of the project’s Other. With no existing relationship to the Other, how will the constant stream of artificial sights and sounds start to displace Farid’s own internal monologue? For the duration of the project, Farid will experience no human interaction relative to his own life, allowing his indirect relationship with the Other to become his leading narrative.

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 environment and culture. How will the 14-days alter Farid’s movement, mannerisms, personality, and most importantly, his rationale? Without free will to determine and shape who he is, will Farid’s consciousness be enough to deter significant change?


Seeing I was conceived and created by artist Mark Farid, is commissioned by arebyte Gallery, and is in partnership with the Sundance Institute, the Mindfulness Centre of Excellence, Ravensbourne University and Imagine Science Film Festival

  • Ars Electronica 2019

    2nd - 8th September 2019

    For seven consecutive days, artist Mark Farid will be taking over the exhibition space of the Artist Residency building at Ars Electronica. The gallery space will contain all the necessary facilities for the duration of the project: a double bed, toilet, exercise bike, and a table and chair. Farid will live inside this space, subject to the sights and sounds of the Other.

    Each morning Farid will put on the virtual reality headset and watch the first person point-of-view perspective of one person, from the moment they get out of bed in the morning, to the moment they go to sleep in the evening. Each day, Farid will watch a different person’s life, eating when they eat, and sleeping when they sleep. Otherwise, Farid is free to do as he pleases within the exhibition space, so long as the headset remains on.

    Each night, after the Other goes to sleep, Farid will take off the VR headset and speak to the projects’ clinical psychologist, Dr. Tamara Russell. On the final night of the exhibition, a public conversation between Farid and Dr. Russell will take place in the exhibition space.

    NB, This 7-day, public trial-run is being used to help determine the age, gender, and characteristics of the Other - ranging from an 18 year old girl, to a 28 year old male farmer, to a 71 year old woman.

  • Ars Electronica 2019

    2nd - 8th September 2019

    For seven consecutive days, artist Mark Farid will be taking over the exhibition space of the Artist Residency building at Ars Electronica. The gallery space will contain all the necessary facilities for the duration of the project: a double bed, toilet, exercise bike, and a table and chair. Farid will live inside this space, subject to the sights and sounds of the Other.

    Each morning Farid will put on the virtual reality headset and watch the first person point-of-view perspective of one person, from the moment they get out of bed in the morning, to the moment they go to sleep in the evening. Each day, Farid will watch a different person’s life, eating when they eat, and sleeping when they sleep. Otherwise, Farid is free to do as he pleases within the exhibition space, so long as the headset remains on.

    Each night, after the Other goes to sleep, Farid will take off the VR headset and speak to the projects’ clinical psychologist, Dr. Tamara Russell. On the final night of the exhibition, a public conversation between Farid and Dr. Russell will take place in the exhibition space.

    NB, This 7-day, public trial-run is being used to help determine the age, gender, and characteristics of the Other - ranging from an 18 year old girl, to a 28 year old male farmer, to a 71 year old woman.

  • 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, to an engine revving. We look out of our windows and see square gardens; beyond our hedges, humans have built every building, road, park and field. None exist without man.

    We comprehend and shape the world in our own, distinct image - an image formed by environmental, cultural and genetic factors. To alter these variables subsequently reshape the individual, and how they comprehend the world. Just as humans’ impact on the environment adjusts the weather, we have grown accustomed to an artificial reality, cultivated and curated to the needs of man.

    Our sensations and awareness of our surroundings are substituted by a fictional simulation; having known nothing else, we believe this fiction to be truth. At this point, simulation becomes life. Assuming that the physical world is the 'real' world, 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, to an engine revving. We look out of our windows and see square gardens; beyond our hedges, humans have built every building, road, park and field. None exist without man.

    We comprehend and shape the world in our own, distinct image - an image formed by environmental, cultural and genetic factors. To alter these variables subsequently reshape the individual, and how they comprehend the world. Just as humans’ impact on the environment adjusts the weather, we have grown accustomed to an artificial reality, cultivated and curated to the needs of man.

    Our sensations and awareness of our surroundings are substituted by a fictional simulation; having known nothing else, we believe this fiction to be truth. At this point, simulation becomes life. Assuming that the physical world is the 'real' world, 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 in control of Farid’s life, recording a continuous 220x165° HD panorama of all their immediate sights and sounds, facilitated by a headband fitted with miniature camera lenses and microphones. Farid will witness every waking moment of the Other’s life: from brushing their teeth, to their commute, their work and social life, and their most intimate moments with their partner, family, and friends.

    We are currently in the process of trialling different Other’s. If you are interested in recording your life, for part of this project, please see the Open Call section below.

  • The Other

    The Other is in control of Farid’s life, recording a continuous 220x165° HD panorama of all their immediate sights and sounds, facilitated by a headband fitted with miniature camera lenses and microphones. Farid will witness every waking moment of the Other’s life: from brushing their teeth, to their commute, their work and social life, and their most intimate moments with their partner, family, and friends.

    We are currently in the process of trialling different Other’s. If you are interested in recording your life, for part of this project, please see the Open Call section below.

  • The Other Concept

    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 made public, and lived by an absent but all-seeing stranger (Farid, and the public), Seeing I will tackle the dichotomy of our contemporary lives, in which we are both willing spectator and spectacle.

    Just as a film invites us to passively share in its protagonist’s life, Farid will peer into the life of the Other. Unlike a filmmaker, the Other will lack the authority to edit or re-film their recording. Will the Other start to self-censor their actions or perform, despite the clear instructions to live their life as normal? How will the 24-hour a day surveillance affect their relationship with others?

    When every moment of an individual’s life is auto-publicised, with no thought given to the concept of privacy, it follows that there will be an indelible effect on the human psyche, subconsciously adapting to being watched - but - will the Other and their partner be happier broadcasting their life, validating their every decision through the potential that all is being acknowledged, or, will the lack of privacy become too much?

  • The Other Concept

    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 made public, and lived by an absent but all-seeing stranger (Farid, and the public), Seeing I will tackle the dichotomy of our contemporary lives, in which we are both willing spectator and spectacle.

    Just as a film invites us to passively share in its protagonist’s life, Farid will peer into the life of the Other. Unlike a filmmaker, the Other will lack the authority to edit or re-film their recording. Will the Other start to self-censor their actions or perform, despite the clear instructions to live their life as normal? How will the 24-hour a day surveillance affect their relationship with others?

    When every moment of an individual’s life is auto-publicised, with no thought given to the concept of privacy, it follows that there will be an indelible effect on the human psyche, subconsciously adapting to being watched - but - will the Other and their partner be happier broadcasting their life, validating their every decision through the potential that all is being acknowledged, or, will the lack of privacy become too much?

  • Research & Credits

    Seeing I is not an endurance test, and if Dr. Russell decides 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.

    Both Farid and the Other’s long-term mental and physical health are imperative. We have, and will continue to listen to advice given from projects dedicated Clinical Psychologist, Dr Tamara Russell, regarding physical, and psychological consultations, along with seeking regular ophthalmological (eye) examinations.

    Dr. Russell will take two roles as a Clinical Psychologist in Seeing I. She will aid in Mark’s psychological preparation in the build up to the project in 2020, and will help in Mark’s rehabilitation once the project has culminated. Dr. Russell will also analyse Mark and be responsible for the writing and publication of the findings.

    Farid will wear a bio-senses harness developed by Ravensbourne University, which will be record his pulse, galvanic skin response, breathing, body and environmental temperature and humidity and acceleration/gyroscopic measurement on his wrist chest. This will be monitored by Dr. Russell and a small research time, and all data will be open-sourced, in real-time, and reamin online.

    Seeing I will culminate in a documentary, directed by Petri Luukkainen. Luukkainen will film the trial run in September 2019 in build up to the exhibition, along with the researchers, the process of deciding the Other, and further tests. The documentary will also cover the psychological findings of the project from Dr Tamara Russell, Clinical Psychologist, and how Farid readjusts to the ‘real’ world after meeting the Other, for the first time, in person. We do not intend for the documentary to be about the artist, 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.

    Credits

    Mark Farid - Artist, Producer, and Subject (2013 - Present)
    Nimrod Vardi - Funder and Co-Producer, arebyte Gallery (2014 - Present)
    Tadej Vindis - Development of the custom built recorder - System Design and Project Management (2017 - Present)
    Frank Davies - Development of the custom built recorder - System Design and Software Development (2017 - Present)
    Drew Richards - Development of the custom built recorder - Prototyping, Manufacture and 3D Design (2017 - Present)
    Dr. Tamara Russell -Clinical Psychologist, Mindfulness Centre of Excellence (2019 - Present)
    Carl Smith - Live Biometric Research, Ravensbourne University (2019 - Present)
    Petri Luukkainen - Film Director, Unikino Productions (2019 - Present)
    John Ingle - Film Director & Co-Producer (2014-2016)

  • Research & Credits

    Seeing I is not an endurance test, and if Dr. Russell decides 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.

    Both Farid and the Other’s long-term mental and physical health are imperative. We have, and will continue to listen to advice given from projects dedicated Clinical Psychologist, Dr Tamara Russell, regarding physical, and psychological consultations, along with seeking regular ophthalmological (eye) examinations.

    Dr. Russell will take two roles as a Clinical Psychologist in Seeing I. She will aid in Mark’s psychological preparation in the build up to the project in 2020, and will help in Mark’s rehabilitation once the project has culminated. Dr. Russell will also analyse Mark and be responsible for the writing and publication of the findings.

    Farid will wear a bio-senses harness developed by Ravensbourne University, which will be record his pulse, galvanic skin response, breathing, body and environmental temperature and humidity and acceleration/gyroscopic measurement on his wrist chest. This will be monitored by Dr. Russell and a small research time, and all data will be open-sourced, in real-time, and reamin online.

    Seeing I will culminate in a documentary, directed by Petri Luukkainen. Luukkainen will film the trial run in September 2019 in build up to the exhibition, along with the researchers, the process of deciding the Other, and further tests. The documentary will also cover the psychological findings of the project from Dr Tamara Russell, Clinical Psychologist, and how Farid readjusts to the ‘real’ world after meeting the Other, for the first time, in person. We do not intend for the documentary to be about the artist, 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.

    Credits

    Mark Farid - Artist, Producer, and Subject (2013 - Present)
    Nimrod Vardi - Funder and Co-Producer, arebyte Gallery (2014 - Present)
    Tadej Vindis - Development of the custom built recorder - System Design and Project Management (2017 - Present)
    Frank Davies - Development of the custom built recorder - System Design and Software Development (2017 - Present)
    Drew Richards - Development of the custom built recorder - Prototyping, Manufacture and 3D Design (2017 - Present)
    Dr. Tamara Russell -Clinical Psychologist, Mindfulness Centre of Excellence (2019 - Present)
    Carl Smith - Live Biometric Research, Ravensbourne University (2019 - Present)
    Petri Luukkainen - Film Director, Unikino Productions (2019 - Present)
    John Ingle - Film Director & Co-Producer (2014-2016)



  • 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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