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Digital connections between the present and the past

How could digital connections between the present and the past be explained through an interactive installation, but with the use of technology and art?

Artist and designer, Guillaume Beinat worked with his students on a project that talks about the digital era and society.

To set the brief, Guillaume suggested his students tell a story that could be read in several ways.

A satire of our society, a parody, an imaginary or fantastic tale, a critique of politics or commitment that’d be able to be listened and touched at the same time.

He already knew about the Touch Board, so he proposed to create 12 interactive conductive elements with it, whose interface could be attached to a wall or on any other surface.

The idea was to combine a graphic creation with a capacitive sensing microcontroller. To read the story, the user would have to play with the tactile architecture.

The students chose to focus on the social network, and especially on Snapchat and its effects. Snapchat combines both image and sound with the ability to use filters. So they decided to create this narcissistic society, which is always connected, using the screen (smartphone) as a mirror.

The Touch Board was the perfect tool because if they wanted to write a sound fiction, they could use it and play it on different touch. No matter with which touch area you’d start, you’d enter in the story by the sound and its topics.

The students made a reinterpretation of the Leonardo da Vinci’s work; the Last Supper. They wanted to create the interaction between all the characters, using a large portrait to represent our stereotypes & narcissistic attitude. This is how the Snapcene was born.

Each feeling was illustrated by a sound and visual filter, and was augmented by an actor’s caricature voice.

The sound work was recorded by an electro-acoustic musician: Eddie Ladoire. They reproduced some actions of the daily life with a lunch noise as a background.

Using Snapchat’s filters, the conversations circled around the different types of people; the vegetarian, the depressive, the awful, the dissatisfied, the best friend, the cute, the superficial, etc.

When they had the idea to use Snapchat, they were thinking of painting Electric Paint directly on the University’s walls. But, after some brainstorming, they chose to print the project in silkscreen. It was very interesting to see all the different points and choices they finally used.

The brand identity of Snapchat (yellow and black) could be easily produced and the black colour of the conductive paint could be printed on a digital surface, something that helped a lot with the final result of the project.

The goal was to design everything so the black lines work as the interactive elements.

The drawings connected all the characters by using separate lines. The main design consideration was to ensure users could understand where the digital surface is. They had to find the smartphone icon, which was the link between the whole drawing.

Screen printing achieved something like a double goal. The students proposed a selection, a vision as a temporal capsule of the society of this new profile of the ”digital people” by taking up the old canvas codes and the codes of mass reproduction.

Are they real at the end? Is the world like that for a long time?

Inspired by the likes and follows on social networks, the Snapcene is a satire, a portrait gallery of our society. It creates a small interactive space, close to the reader, where you can listen to some basic informal discussions.

This mix between real and virtual is an experience to talk about. How the creation, print and digital can develop new interactions and new fictions without any more devices or screens that we normally see in interactive installations.

The sound becomes an immersive tool in the centre of creation.

Credits: ECV Bordeaux – France, Celia Mindren, Clément Chayé, Paula Da Silva, Charlotte Faurisson, Paul Courteault, Baptiste Pauzat, Fanny Branger, Louis de Laâge de Meux, Tiphaine Guise.

Images: Celia Mindren

Project Direction: Guillaume Beinat / Alexandre Suné (@tazasproject).

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