“Device Art” is running for another 9 weeks—until June 21, 2015—at the Ars Electronica Center Linz, and the camera helmet from Mr. Touchy is one of the exhibits. When “Device Art” premiered at the Ars Electronica Festival last autumn, we had a chance to meet artist Eric Siu and chat with him about his gadget designed to playfully facilitate social encounters and physical interactions—or at least encourage denizens of digitized domains to keep in mind that they shouldn’t neglect real, live human contacts.
Mr. Touchy, why do I have to touch you?
Mr. Touchy: Oh, because I cannot see if you don’t touch me. I need human contact. I need your help to help me to see. Then my lens apertures open. So that’s why you have to touch me. And if you touch me for ten seconds I will take a photo of you with my built-in camera, and the last captured picture is displayed on the back of my helmet. I’m a real human camera. Touch me ten seconds, look into my eyes, *click*. I just took one.
Photo: Tom Mesic
How did it all started?
Mr. Touchy: There was no idea of a “Mr. Touchy” at the beginning. I love designing interactivity and interaction. I think it is a very beautiful thought if someone cannot see and needs a touch that can make her or him to see. This is a very poetic interactive design. This kind of situation was the starting point of my project. Then I was thinking about why people would like to touch me, as you asked me before. Through talking I can give something back to someone. I can set up a relationship. And that’s how all camera things did come in. A social concern has also be naturally combined.
Photo: Tom Mesic
Is it hard to find people to be touched?
Mr. Touchy: Sometimes. In a street performance people would ask themselves, “Oh dear, what’s this?”. It needs some time to encourage people to touch me but in general it is pretty okay.
Did you notice any difference between Japan and Europe?
Mr. Touchy: There are a lot of differences. The touch in Japan is very polite and very gentle. As I know from my performances here at the Ars Electronica Festival, people were very nice to me. I got one kiss on the face. But in Brazil, where I did performances before this festival, there was a kiss every day. *laughs* So, anyway, touching is a really normal behavior here in Europe. I got a lot of touches here as well.
For more information about the “Device Art” exhibition at the Ars Electronica Center please visit ars.electronica.art/center. And don’t forget: From September 3 to 7, 2015, another edition of the Ars Electronica Festival will take place in Linz: ars.electronica.art/postcity