in 2009 - Research material available for download
the Couch –
Capturing Audience Experience
Artistic Statement by Paul Sermon
First there was the bed, then came the sofa. The beginnings of this work started with the installation "Telematic Dreaming" produced in June 1992 for the "koti" exhibition in Kajaani, Finland. forwarding the development into the installation "Telematic Vision". In many ways the sofa and the bed amount to much the same thing, they can also transform themselves into each other, becoming a "sofa/bed". The semiology of the bed, that proved to be so effective in "Telematic Dreaming", is also present within the sofa and is equally as effective in "Telematic Vision". Where "Telematic Vision" and its sofa differ from "Telematic Dreaming" and its bed is in the scenario and theater of its spectacle. The sofa finds itself between the bed and the television, whilst it retains the semiotic reference to the bed, it also refers directly to television. The television and sofa are caught up in an inseparable scenario. In "Telematic Vision" the sofa is the seat from which the spectacle of television is viewed and the spectacle that is viewed is the audience that sit on the sofa.
Two identical blue sofas are located in dispersed remote locations. In front of each sofa stands a video monitor and camera. The video camera in each location sends a live video image, via ISDN telephone lines, to the other location. The two images are mixed together, via a video effects generator, and displayed on the monitors in front of each sofa in both remote locations simultaneously. Two more video monitors, displaying the same image, are added to both locations, and stand one meter from the arms on both sides of each sofa. The theater of the spectacle is complete. The viewers in both locations assume the function of the installation and sit down on the sofas to watch television. At this point they enter the telematic space, watching a live image of themselves sat on a sofa next to another person. They start to explore the space and understand they are now in complete physical control of a telepresent body that can interact with the other person. The more intimate and sophisticated the interaction becomes, the further the users enter into the telematic space. The division between the remote telepresent body and actual physical body disappears, leaving only one body that exists in and between both locations. Assisted by the object of the sofa and the scenario of the television consciousness is extended and resides solely within the interaction of the user. "Telematic Vision" is a vacant space of potentiality, it is nothing without the presence of a viewer and the interactions of a user who create their own television program by becoming the voyeurs of their own spectacle.