Paul Sermon – Telematic Dreaming (1993)

“….The installation existed within the digital telephone network of the ISDN. Two separate interfaces were created and put into two separate locations, were they function as customised video conference systems. In the two locations two double beds are placed, one in an illuminated space and one in a dark space. The bed that is in the illuminated space, has a camera directly placed above and records person A and the bed which is then sent as an image, to a projector that is directly placed above the second bed in the dark location. The live image is projected down onto the bed with Person B also in the image. Another camera located at the side of the projector screen, this camera sends a live image of the projection of Person A along with person B who is also in the image, to a variety of monitors that are located in the illuminated area and around the bed…. 

Within Telematic Dreaming the user can exchange their tactical senses and swap their sense of touch, with the sense of sight by replacing their hands with their eyes.”    – Wikipedia

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Sermon had presented a unique way to interact with the audience through his artwork.

He  transforms a bedroom, into a telematic space.  Two separate locations, each with beds laid out, are connected through a digital network.  The participants lying on the beds are at different places but their images exist right next to each other at the same time.  What begins between them is ‘eye’ touching instead of hand touching. They also ‘talks’ through gestures, exchanging their emotions.

Many performance artists have challenged the concept of private versus public space and Sermon’s Telematic Dreaming fits exactly into this concept. Even without real sense of touch, the intimacy between the artist and the participants are still present. It is especially interesting when he uses the setting of a bedroom for this installation as the bedroom is where the most private exchanges occurs and now it was out on public as an exhibition. Also I notice that the lights are purposely made to be dim perhaps to produce a comfortable home setting and also implying sexuality and intimacy. To me, I felt that it was to question the society norms of what should and should not be done out of your comfort/private space and challenge the limits of what the audience can or cannot accept.

What caught my attention most is that the installation occurs at 1993 where video conferencing have not been developed yet and internet was not as accessible. Someone who is at this era now might find it common and perfectly normal that two bodies of different locations are able to communicate. However, this concept of interacting at different spaces (or should I say that it is creating a common space from two different spaces), at that point of time is absolutely mind-blowing. Perhaps the Sermon wanted the participants to experience a space out of where their physical bodies are and question about time and space.

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