Aram Bartholl – Blog

new works, shows, talks, workshops, press, speed projects, pictures ….

Archive for January, 2009

“Here is looking at you, Kid.”

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Or how to have eye contact during video chat by using a low tech screen addon.

The concept of video telephony is quite old. It has been around in any Sience Fiction movie or book and different telecommunication companies tried to establish such a service in the 90s or earlier. They all more or less failed. The german Telekom offered i.e. a very expensive ISDN video phone in ’97 but had to draw back soon. But in the meanwhile cheap web cams and fast internet connections made video chat on the computer quite popular. (And it’s also possible to place video calls on all new mobile phones and networks but i ve never seen anybody using it. It’s still just to expensive.)

The general idea of video telephony is quite obvious and seams to be the next step after the good old telephone wich has been around for someting like 100 years. But is the image really a usefull addition to the voice? Is it maybe more interesting to see what the telephone partner is seeing? In fact I am myself not a very big fan of video chat. It does often distract me, there is certain loss of privacy and some people do look more at their own image than to the other person. I am sure there have been a lot of discussions, researches and PhDs on video telephony but I am not going into all these details and relations of sound, voice, image, no image etc.

I think there is one very crucial moment about the video image showing a portrait. If we talk to a person face to face (and this is what video chatting tries to imitate) you normally do have eye contact. You just look at each other, not all the time and depending on your personality and cultural background, but you do have certainly eye contact. And this is very important for communication. I believe one of the main reasons why video chat doesn’t really appeal to me is the missing eye contact. Both participants look at their screens but the web cam is next to the screen. Video chat today is more like observing your friend while he/she is looking at the screen. Even the tiny cams very close to the screen in notebooks don’t really help. Your partners view seams still a bit offset.

“Here is looking at you, Kid.” is a low tech hardware work around for this serious problem. The simple screen addon is made of a mirror, some glass with spy mirror foil and an piece of card board and will bring the full experience of eye contact to you. The video image of the partner is literally detatched from the screen by two mirrors and shifted in front of the integrated notebook cam. While the viewer enjoys the vido image he/she is now looking at the same time exacly into the camera behind the spy mirror. In the field of TV industrie this setup is well known as a telepromter. Screen and notebook manufacturers should consider this phenomenon and should work on an idea how to integrate the web cam within/behind the TFT screen.

I’ll try to manage a full DIY manual ASAP but I assume you can already figure out by the pictures how to get this going. Please note that of course both participants need this screen addon to make the effect work.

Thx to Holger for bouncing ideas and photo shooting!

All pics on flickr.

Ah ok, there is a product like this already
Thx for letting my know and thx for the MAKE post, Jonah!

Written by Aram

January 23rd, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Site Update & “Sociial” text

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It took me a while but I finally managed to update my website with these ‘recent’ projects: China Channel, Jump’n Run Shanghai and Sociial. Nothing really new but now also featuring a full translation for the Sociial project.

Sociial from Aram Bartholl on Vimeo.

Sociial is a 17-minute performance presented by four protagonists and an announcer in a stage-like situation. The four “dancers” play tennis on a Nintendo Wii game console while every 10 seconds the announcer reads out descriptions a selection of 100 Web 2.0 services. The Nintendo Wii game console, which came onto the market in 2006, has a new kind of user interface. In contrast to the usual couch potato playing modus, Wii players must exert themselves physically. A sensor can locate the position of up to four game controllers in the playing area…

… read on

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January 21st, 2009 at 5:54 pm

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Calendar Update

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Upcoming Events

“WoW” workshop at Laguna Art Museum, US

Guest teaching at Merz Akademie, DE

“Random Screen” at Kunstfrühling/Art Spring exhibition, Bremen, DE

“Chat” at STRP festival, Eindhoven, NL

“Map” installation at Inspiracje art festival, Szczecin, PL

ChinaChannel” at Mediaspace Filmwinter festival, Stuttgart, DE

AIR residency program at V2 Lab. NL

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January 21st, 2009 at 5:50 pm

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Technology Wishlist

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I want support hotlines to pick up my help request/complaints on my microblogging feed/twitter (FF3 does it).
I want to see a virtual machine running in a browser only operating system.
I want my fridge to use the winter cold instead of wasting electricity by generating cold. It ‘s cold outside from October-March anyway.
I want a fast booting energy saving light bulp with adjustable light temperature.
I want the screen temperature of my mobile phone to auto adjust to the surrounding light atmosphere.
I want a break powered dynamo for my bicycle lights.
I want TV channels to stop broadcasting after each program. The viewer should hit play to continue.
I want real buttons on full glas auto sliding doors (ICE3).
to be continued

I want to be able to link to a specific position/frame in a movie (hello! vimeo, youtube ….)
(It’s possible. Take a look at , thx @hintz)

I want to be able to rotate my web cam image 90° into portrait format for video chat. A face is a portrait and not a landscape. (Not so useful for notebook cams though.)

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January 18th, 2009 at 8:57 pm

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An Ode To My Best Friend

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Without you my life was useless.
You are so universal.
You store my life at heart.
You keep my secrets safe from the chatty networks.
Your beauty grows by the amount of data you can take.
8gig, I just love you. 512 old man, your case is big, you have seen many machines. You are serving me for a long time already.
You gave me the power to defeat the curse of the small-minded silver disk.
I take you everywhere I go.
You are my personal R2D2 compatible to any system, robust to all physical harm.
Your single beautiful pulsing light adulates my eyes like gold.
Your high speed data rate feels like cocaine.
Plugging you in is always a bet like a 50/50 Russian Roulette.
Your ISO gives me a cold shiver running down my spine.
Without you in my pocket I feel naked and useless.
You, my physical presence of the essence of life, no one can seperate us.

In love, your best Friend.

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January 17th, 2009 at 12:49 pm

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By the way, I am currently showing (since my bithday party) a preview of a new piece at Cafe Mörder If you are interested just drop by and it’s worth going for a coffee there anyway…

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January 16th, 2009 at 2:24 pm

“Rein Raus”

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I wish I had a balcony ;-)
Revisiting Realities United.
Nice one!

Year Start: 2001
Status: completed
Timeframe: permanent
Location: Falckensteinstrasse 47-48, 10997 Berlin, Germany

ReinRaus is the prototype of a standardized and serially producible mobile space extension for city apartments. The appliance can be installed on a wide variety of windows, apartments and types of dwellings. read on

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January 15th, 2009 at 9:22 pm

Posted in other projects

Classic Train Information Display

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(Beautiful but not in use any more, found at train station Eberswalde, DE)

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January 13th, 2009 at 9:48 pm

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During a daytrip to Szczecin PL (actually really close to Berlin 2h, discussing my google “Map” pin with inSPIRACJE for march) I took a quick look at the current show at galeria 13 muz. I liked the speaker arrangements of Michals Dudeks sound/video installations. Nice!

Michal Dudek
11.12.2008 – 31.01.2009
“Sounds of Room

Audio/Video Installations

galeria 13 muz
Szczecin, PL

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January 13th, 2009 at 9:28 pm

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(Found installation in public space. Someone got rid of two screens and placed them in a nice symetric way in the street. “Untitled” Mixed media, 2 computer screens, container, urban intervention. I bet thoses still work ;-) found at Borsigstrasse, Berlin)

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January 12th, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Posted in pic of the day