"Boy, I got vision and the rest of the world wears bi-focals." While this is one of my favorite lines from Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, these words could have easily come from the mouth of Eric Siu.
Who's Eric Siu, you ask? On paper he's a graduate of UCLA's Department of Design Media Arts. But more importantly, in the grand scheme of things, the Hong Kong-based artist is a luminary if I ever saw one. His new project has so eloquently diagnosed the pitfalls of modern technology that I'm a Kool-Aid sip away from hailing him the new messiah.
While you may see a man stumbling around with what looks like a giant 35-millimeter camera stuck on his head, I see a man who finally has enough gall to confront how social networking and texting are "dehumanizing physical communication" to such an extent where teenagers don't leave their room for four years. Think I'm exaggerating? Believe me, I only wish the Hikikomori and Otaku cultures of Japan were a tall tale.
To address this issue, Siu has created Touchy, a camera-like helmet that renders him blind. That is, until someone touches him. When actual physical contact is maintained for 10 seconds, the "human camera" takes a photo and displays it on the back of the helmet.
While turning oneself into part machine doesn't exactly sound like the best way to reach a bunch of recluses held hostage by their addiction to machines, Sui begs to differ.
"Metaphorically, Touchy lives in an isolating cage built by the experience of total darkness, as if he is encountering the same sensuous withdrawal as some social disorder patients have," Siu writes on his website. "Your effortless touch is an action of giving vision and taking photos, which heals the anxiety and generates a playful interaction that invites people to have fun…"
Speaking of visionaries, the world lost another one Friday with the passing of the Beastie Boys's Adam Yauch, aka MCA. In this dehumanized day and age, I say, in honor of MCA, we commit the ultimate Sabotage and really ask ourselves "So What'cha Want?"
Apropos of Siu's project and the passing of one of hip hop's seminal figures, let's all swallow the following lyrics by MCA and reclaim our humanity this weekend. Who's down?
Credit: Eric Siu