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||: Focus | Distraction :|| (2022)

interactive installation for a distracted visitor, an eye motion tracker, and tourist pictures
- 4 minutes
The installation, a big fish on the screen

The outside world is constantly changing, but how aware are we of those processes? We are glued to our screens, staring into the online universe for hours while we disconnect from our "offline" surroundings. Are we still in sync with them? ||: Focus | Distraction :|| challenges the audience to look deep into the screen while also enjoying a multitude of instagrammable panoramic views and soundscapes.

The project started with the idea of working with the thematics of our average attention span and the impact contemporary technology has on it. According to an often-cited Microsoft paper, our attention span might have become shorter than that of a goldfish. I set out to build an audiovisual installation in which I challenge the audience to stay focused as long as possible and to "fight" the distractions that pop up on the screen. How long can they manage?

I started to think further. I wanted to examine if we actually stop noticing slow changes in the outside world while we are intensely staring at our screen? And then more questions popped up: is the usage of streaming services, social media, and the like distracting us from dealing with the pressing problems of modernity? If our attention has become one of our most valuable commodities—not only for ourselves but also as currency for the marketing machine—how can we deal with that? And above all, are humans and goldfish sitting in the same... um, goldfish bowl?

||: Focus | Distraction :|| was developed in October 2022 in the framework of the subnetAIR residency in collaboration with the Center for Human Computer Interaction (HCI) in Salzburg, and further developed during a residency at EMS Stockholm in April 2023, with the kind support of Cultural Moves Europe. I wish to extend a huge thank you to both organisations for making this possible, and an extra thanks to Martin Murer and Antoni Rayzhekov for the help and the inspirational conversations.

Still from the installation, butterfly in the clouds
Still from the installation, giant grazing sheep
Still from the installation, underwater world
Still from the installation, fish in the night
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