Seeing I – The Other
First person point of view 360° video, 2020–2021
Focusing on real lives that are neither sensational, nor a spectacle, Seeing I: The Other explores the movement of people; how different cultures, societies, and languages affects one’s sense of self, and – especially during the coronavirus pandemic – the ability to share in one’s experience and world, only through digital technologies.
Seeing I: The Other shows different people’s lives from around the world streamed online, in a first person point of view, 360 degree field of view, 24-continuous-hour recording. Exploring how people respond to continuous and constant self-surveillance, whilst also testing bespoke technologies in real-life circumstances, Seeing I: The Other is a research arm of Farid’s larger project, Seeing I (2021), where Farid will live as one specific individual (the »Other«) for 24 hours a day, for two weeks in virtual reality, only experiencing what the Other experiences.
Inspired by Psychologist Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment (1971), Philosopher Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation (1981), and Artist Josh Harris’ Quiet: We Live in Public (1999), Seeing I will confine Farid to a gallery space, subject to the simulated life of the project’s Other. With no existing relationship to the Other, how will the constant stream of artificial sights and sounds start to displace Farid’s own internal monologue? For the duration of the project, Farid will experience no human interaction relative to his own life, allowing his indirect relationship with the Other to become his leading narrative. Adapting the question of nature vs. nurture to the digital age, Seeing I will consider how large a portion of the individual is an inherent self, and how large a portion is a consequence of environment and culture. How will the 14-days alter Farid’s movement, mannerisms, personality, and most importantly, his rationale? Without free will to determine and shape who he is, will Farid’s consciousness be enough to deter significant change?
Recorded in advance, every aspect of the Other’s life is captured; from brushing their teeth, to their commute, to their work and social life, and their most intimate moments. The Other wears a pair of customized glasses, capable of recording 24+ hours of 4K video and audio in a full, 360° field of view, all from first person POV. Their everyday actions are transformed into an act of sharing; nothing is edited out. Any editing takes the form of self-censorship, as they determine which aspects of their lives they wish to share with Farid, and the audience.
The project invites the audience to carefully witness the lives of two protagonists. The audience can experience 24 continuous hours of the protagonist’s lives without any biased editing or artistic choices. Instead, the artists asks the audience to think about the plurality of realities, and the things they have in common. None of the represented lives are to be stereotypically explored, but rather to sharpen the view for individual perceptions.
Starting on 4th December 2020, the first life shown on www.seeing-i.com will be that of Ibrahima (36), an asylum seeker from West Africa. In 2003, Ibrahima moved to the north east of England to avoid war, where he was granted indefinite right to remain by the UK government. In 2008 he had his indefinite right to remain status revoked. In 2015, Ibrahima had his indefinite right to remain re-instated by the Home Office; However, he was not given back his passport or national insurance number. For the last 12 years, Ibrahima has been unable to work, leave the UK, or see his children.
Graham has been living in ‘sheltered accommodation’ for the last 9 months and is unable to legally work. A trainee electrician, in March 2020, Graham was sectioned for erratic behaviour. Released after two weeks as a result of a legal challenge to wrongful detainment, Graham was ordered to be placed in sheltered housing for two years. Unable to work until he has an assessment stating he is fit to work, he has been forced onto Universal Credit indefinitely. It has been 11 months since Graham was initially sectioned and forced to stop working, and he is still awaiting a date for his next assessment.
Artist and Producer: Mark Farid
Development of Commercially Bought Recorder: Orange
Producers: Peter Zorn and Marcie Joist
Artist Mark Farid’s project Seeing I: The Other (2020) is the culmination of an online residency with the European Media Art Platforms program at Werkleitz, as part of the Creative Europe Culture Programme of the European Union.
Seeing I was conceived and created by artist Mark Farid, is commissioned by arebyte Gallery, UK, and the European Media Art Platforms EMARE program at Wekleitz with the support of the Creative Europe Culture Programme of the European Union, EU, the National Theatre Immersive Storytelling Studio, UK, body>data>space, UK, and the Sundance Institute, USA.