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Paul Sermon, Telematic Vision (1993-)

Documentary Collection

Paul Sermon, Telematic Vision (1993-)
Introduction to the Collection, by Rolf Wolfensberger

The documentary collection on Paul Sermon's Telematic Vision is an additional instalment to the series of documentation case studies initiated by Lizzie Muller and Caitlin Jones. The Telematic Vision collection is based on a separate case study conducted by Rolf Wolfensberger in 2008 at the Museum of Communication (Berne, Switzerland), where the artwork has been part of the permanent exhibition since 2003. The case study focuses on capturing the audience experience in relation to the artist's intentions from a curatorial and preservational point of view.

Excerpt from the original artistic statement from 1993:

"(...) The television and sofa are caught up in an inseparable scenario. In Telematic Vision the sofa is the seat from which the spectacle of television is viewed and the spectacle that is viewed is the audience that sits on the sofa. Two identical blue sofas are located in dispersed remote locations. In front of each sofa stands a video monitor and camera. The video camera in each location sends a live video image (...) to the other location. The two images are mixed together, via a video effects generator, and displayed on the monitors in front of each sofa in both remote locations simultaneously. Two more video monitors, displaying the same image, are added to both locations, and stand one metre from the arms on both sides of each sofa. The theatre of the spectacle is complete. The viewers in both locations assume the function of the installation and sit down on the sofas to watch television. At this point they enter the telematic space, watching a live image of themselves sat on a sofa next to another person. They start to explore the space and understand they are now in complete physical control of a telepresent body that can interact with the other person. The more intimate and sophisticated the interaction becomes, the further the users enter into the telematic space. The division between the remote telepresent body and the actual physical body disappears, leaving only one body that exists in and between both locations. Assisted by the object of the sofa and the scenario of the television consciousness is extended and resides solely within the interaction of the user. Telematic Vision is a vacant space of potentiality, it is nothing without the presence of a viewer and the interactions of a user who create their own television program by becoming the voyeurs of their own spectacle."

The original concept and structure of Telematic Vision is an open framework, where the artwork itself emerges only through the participation of users and through their lived experience at a given moment in space and time. Bluntly put, the experience is the artwork. Therefore, sources representing such phenomenological information, whether textual, oral or visual, become the pivotal points of interest in finding a strategy to document an artwork with this type of structure. The case study has thus been designed as a multi-layered qualitative phenomenological research initiative into the field of aesthetic perception and embodied experience. The focus is on the assessment of the contextualised impact.

The documents presented in the collection are not commented upon in this paper. For the methodological evaluation and the narrative reconstruction of the audience's experience, please see the respective chapters in the case study: "On the Couch – Capturing Audience Experience". The study was realised as a Master's Thesis in the MediaArtHistories Program at the Department of Image Science at Danube University, Krems (Austria), under the direction of Prof. Dr. Oliver Grau (course head) and Alain Depocas (external advisor).

Rolf Wolfensberger © 2009 FDL