KRZYSZTOF WODICZKO, "DISARMOR" -
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Dis-Armor 2 is the newest in a series of psycho-cultural prosthetic equipment designed by Krzysztof Wodiczko to meet the communicative needs of the alienated, traumatized, and silenced residents of today’s cities. Its intention is to counter the dichotomy produced by the present explosion in communication technology and the rampant implosion of cultural miscommunication. Dis-Armor 2 offers an opportunity for indirect, mediated communication by allowing its users to speak through their backs. Two small LCD screens worn on the back display live images of the wearer’s eyes transmitted from cameras installed in the helmet that covers the user’s face. A loudspeaker positioned below the LCD screens amplifies the user’s voice. Attached on the back, a rear-view video camera permits the user to see the interlocutor standing behind through an additional LCD screen placed in front. Wireless video transmission equipment installed in the helmet further allows two users to work in tandem transmitting one’s eyes and voice through the other’s back. Dis-Armor 1 was an initial instrument designed to respond to the specific psychological difficulties of Japanese high school students, as well as “school refusers” who live in silence and with lack of facial expression. Like Dis-Armor 1, Dis-Armor 2 is meant to be a playful alternative to often intimidating face-to-face communication. Yet, unlike the previous model, Dis-Armor 2 is designed for a larger urban constituency to be used by any individuals in any city who survive overwhelming life events (violence, neglect, rape and abuse) and who now wish to overcome their false sense of shame, to break their silence, and, as a part of their therapeutic, ethical, and political mission, to communicate their experiences in public space.
Dis-Armor 1 was produced with the support of the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art with the assistance of child psychotherapists. Two initial models were used on the streets and in schools as well as shopping arcades in Hiroshima. Both Dis-Armor 1 and Dis-Armor 2 were developed as a part of the research of the Interrogative Design Group at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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