Over a period of six months, ‘formality’ explored communication as it is organised, disrupted and distributed through digital systems. A series of interactive installations; Tag, Document and Dialogue, used mobile phones, databases, hidden microphones and printers to question the way in which we communicate and the values we assign it.

Formality (1): Tag
Tag was an interactive installation that looked at how people are categorised based on their personal information. Visitors were invited to contribute a personal mark (a drawing) into a database alongside their demographic information. The database was represented visually with the images being repositioned and resized based on their associated statistics. The value of these drawings changed as they became social categorisations and ‘suggestive statistics’.

Formality (2):Document

In Document, snippets of conversation were captured by hidden microphones in the cafe, fed into voice recognition software and printed out at regular intervals. The text was a turmoil of unintelligible sentences, misunderstood pronunciations and the phonetic attempts at spelling produced by the software. Throwaway, undocumented dialogues between friends suddenly became hard copy, giving them new value.

Formality (3): Dialogue

The silent chatter of text messages and emails was returned to its oral roots in Dialogue. Speech synthesis was used to vocalise messages sent to Watershed from both inside and outside the venue. The words were then passed from computer to computer, each one using a variety of processes to break down the language into its constituent parts and extend its fluidity when removed from the fixed visual world.

supported by

Watershed Media Centre
South West Arts
J.H.Clark Charitable Trust