doorway to the soul, 2015
Doorway to the Soul is a digital sculpture that displays the faces of mechanical turk workers as they are recorded. These workers are paid $0.25 to stare into their webcam for one minute. The videos are scaled to life-size and played directly on a display mounted at average human height.
Communication has a texture, it is at its core the interaction of materials. The medium through which a message flows shapes it in ways that are often difficult to understand. Today, much of the information that humans exchange with each other is digitally mediated. Communication, a defining feature of our species, is undergoing a material change.
Even when speaking face to face, it’s extraordinary that we are able to express lived experience as language decoded and understood between separate individuals with different histories. Our bodies, with their exquisite articulations, processing capabilities, and sensory apparatus have adapted over eons in the physical environment of this planet to be capable of this. We have a depth of built-in resources available for understanding in-person communication.
When communicating digitally, we are in undiscovered country. We speak through a new air, our voices resonating strangely, our breath a mist of invisible culture. Now speech flows through vast technological infrastructure, nascent economies, geographical divides, temporal shifts, and the always changing unknown.
Two people, standing face to face, looking each other in the eyes. Today one has to ask: can they see me?
Physical Size: 66 × 12 × 12 in
Materials: Microtile Display, Mac Mini, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Webcam Video, Software
Duration: Live and algorithmically looped video (variable length)
Doorway to the Soul by Jamie Zigelbaum
Special thanks to Kelani Nichole, Transfer Gallery, and all the Mechanical Turk workers.