l’Éloi & Iregular designed ANTIBODIES – an interactive experience in the form of a never-ending video call. Participants only show up and do not have to say anything. anyone can join at any time and all contributors are accepted.
The experience uses the webcam to track the face of participants and record their face gestures. It was commissioned by La Maison de la Culture Ahuntsic, in Montreal (Canada), to replace an exhibition of 3 interactive installations by the same artist.
This pandemic-induced lockdown has taken a toll on all of us, and though it constrains freedom for some, it unleashes creativity for others, and that is the case of new media artist Daniel Iregui. In order to replace a physical exhibition cancelled because of lockdown, La Maison de la culture Ahuntsic challenged the artist to create a confinement-accessible installation instead. How to achieve that when interactive artworks are simply not complete without an audience?
“All our installations occupy public spaces, so during lockdown we had to occupy a space the
audience could come to: the virtual space” – Daniel Iregui
The concept of replacing social gatherings with video calls seemed to perfectly echo replacing the physical art installation with a virtual one. This is how ANTIBODIES was born: an online interactive artwork that can be accessed by anyone at any time. A two part experience, it takes the form of a never-ending video conference call. In Part 1, you are confronted with your own image filmed by your webcam, while a software tracks your facial gestures and responds with overlaid patterns. Part 2 takes you to the “conference room” where you get to witness the recordings of all the people who participated in the experience, yourself included. This virtual get-together ANTIBODIES highlights the main difference between real-life gatherings and virtual
ones: in real life you only see others around you, never yourself, whereas in this “new normal” scenario you are also in the crowd you perceive, you see how others see you, and that may generate a plethora of emotions from vulnerability all the way to empowerment. The experience also addresses the theme of privacy and other things we had to give up in confinement.
What is next for ANTIBODIES? There are plans to create a version of the piece for public space and large-scale projections. To achieve this, the studio will be using a cutting-edge software for long distance crowd detection it has been developing for the past two years. Life will eventually go back to normal, and ANTIBODIES in the public space will act as a reminder of how our lives were completely changed for a period of time.