USER_IS_PRESENT looks at presence split across virtual and physical spaces. It is easy to look at a person on a mobile phone and think that they are withdrawn or checked out from the world around them; the device has a private screen and operates on a small scale. But the pace at which someone can navigate their own device is astonishing; they are running through a personalized experience at incredible speed without the awareness of the people around them. USER_IS_PRESENT captures the motion of the screen and the simultaneous motion of user’s body in the physical world.
To create USER_IS_PRESENT, I further developed phonelovesyoutoo to capture the screen of the phone while it was in use, in addition to the front and back cameras. The same basic parameters applied: while the phone is in use, it records three video streams. The streams are later integrated together into a single channel using a custom blending technique. The result is a collage that mixes all three video feeds. The rendering techinque creates an effect where the recordings from device depict a space that is between physical and virtual realties: it blends elements of user, interface, and environment.
The installation of USER_IS_PRESENT shows three video portraits each on its own display. The form of the monitors and luminance from the screen suggests qualities of the phone. The completed portraits show clips from each person collected in order of the time they were recorded, but edited to be 30 seconds or less to keep a fast pace through the video. Each compiled video loop was a different length and the playback of the videos was not synchronized, allowing interesting juxtapositions to occur by chance. At times, similar physical spaces are inhabited across different portraits, or similar activities are taking place, or the same person is texting both subjects. The chance juxtaposition allows different references to be drawn between the screens at different times.