This particular installation connected two identical architectured spaces via telepresent videoconference techniques, each space contained several rooms representing the interior of a traditional terraced house. Monitored by web cams, security cams and videoconference systems the two separate audiences/users were able to co-inhabit the same virtual telepresent living environment. There’s No Simulation Like Home was commissioned for the Event Coast exhibitions co-organised by Lighthouse and BN1 in Brighton UK. In association with the Fabrica Gallery Brighton and Hastings Art Gallery & Museum.
There's no simulation like home is the culmination of artistic telematic research since 1992. The exterior of the installation resembles the back of a plasterboard stage set, or as if the bricks of a house had been removed to reveal the back of the inner plasterboard skin. Electricity and video cables are traced and attached all around the surface of the structure, looking like the back of large circuit board. The installation is architectured on the ubiquitous form of the English terraced house. Using a walk through narrative sequence, from front door to back door, the audience encounter differing telepresent interfaces in each of the four rooms: the living room sofa, the bedroom, the dining room table and the bathroom mirror. Before entering the installation the audience have the possibility to view the installation through a series of peepholes positioned along the plasterboard exterior
Inside the installation the audience are encompassed within a simulated domestic home environment, exemplified in the dimensions of the rooms, the wood-chip wallpaper, the light fittings, skirting board and wall sockets. The living room sofa and television screen form the first telematic link outside the installation space, where a second sofa and video monitor are located. By using a system of live chroma-keying the two separate people, who could be any distance apart, share the same sofa on the same telepresent screen. In the bedroom the viewer can lie down on a bed onto which a live video projection is being made of another person, who is located outside the installation space on a second bed. A video image of the combined audiences together on the projection bed allow the viewers to interact in a telepresent space by touching with their eyes. The exterior installation space communicates a contrasting image to the domestic interior. Unlike the inside, the technology is very visible - akin to a media lab environment. The telepresent interfaces located on the outside of the installation, appear as areas for interaction and observation of the experiment like situation taking place inside the installation. In keeping with the techno reference of the exterior installation, video images from small surveillance cameras inside are constantly being displayed on monitors outside.
The dining room table is the third telematic interface to the outside installation. Offering a slightly less psychological complex platform for interaction. Working with a system of live chroma keying between two separate tables the remote viewers are able to sit at the same table in the same telepresent room. The final room and interface the audience confront before exiting out the back door, is the bathroom mirror. What initially appears to be a normal mirror, lacks one essential truth - the viewers own image. A momentary illusion that is broken only when the viewer realises the mirror is in fact a window into an identical room. Whilst we have become accustomed to accept the existence of ourselves in telepresent forms throughout this installation. we are finally denied the most simple telepresent truth we expect from a mirror, putting the notion of the real and the virtual into question. By representing the domestic reality inside the installation as a fabrication of the technological apparatus outside. There's no simulation like home attempts to present realities as a construct of language. This installation serves as a contextual wrapping for the telematic research and developments used within it.
Project Web Site: http://www.paulsermon.org/simulation