This final project has been an interesting process. Through conversations with friends I gained new perspectives on the meaning of Zoom in our life and what we can make of this Zoom University experience. Through much experimentation with different shaders, I now feel more comfortable with P5.js and navigating too many subfolders in the terminal.
My final project resolves around the question of how we connect (or don’t connect) through Zoom which has now become a central element with classes and social gatherings taking place virtually. Do we feel a connection to the people we see on our screen? Why? Why not? How do we connect? We see each other, though only our faces, constantly. Our body is somewhat reduced to whatever we show/see in our little rectangle. So does the body play a central role in our connection? If so, which parts?
The process • Part I • Part II
For me, part of this final was an artistic way of exploring present realities, trying to make sense of them, and trying to somewhat visually transmit where I see the body in Zoom meetings inspired by the thoughts shared by the friends I interviewed as well as my own thoughts.
I asked several friends to share their view and experience with “Zoom connections”, specifically asking which role they attribute to the(ir) body in those connections. There were thoughts on keeping the camera on to be “physically present” though “mentally absent” or also keeping the camera on to encourage themself to stay engaged. There were thoughts on feeling watched or watching others, as in a Zoom meeting, you never knew who was looking at you or at somebody else. There were thoughts on people being very still, almost like a picture of themselves, and thoughts on people constantly moving around, perhaps changing space. These thoughts inspired me to create this little video which is all about being watched/watching as bodies are still or in movement. I initially wanted to overlay it with voice recordings I have from the different interviews but decided to stay with the somewhat uncomforting not completely silent silence coming from the different recordings I put together – a silence I still feel weird about when nobody speaks in a Zoom meeting but everyone stares at their screen.
Besides this more research based outcome, I also wanted to create a simple, fun, more interactive outcome which resulted in an idea for a real time Zoom intervention. If you have some synchronous classes left, give it a try 🙂 For this, I edited the delay shader we looked at in class to have many more layers. I capture the browser window in OBS, start a virtual camera from OBS and use that camera as my Zoom camera. As long as I don’t move, everything is fine. But once I move, it first seems like unstable Internet and if I move faster, like many versions of myself. Unfortunately, my laptop reached its limits with this experimentation and the video output in Zoom was much slower and not as clean as the one in the Browser or OBS but maybe that makes this end-of-semester mood even more realistic.