Artist Robbie Cooper’s Video Project Immersion Stares Back at Gamers and YouTubers

What if that screen you’re peer­ing at was some­thing akin to a one-way mir­ror? There’s a def­i­nite aspect of dress­ing room hor­ror, view­ing artist Rob­bie Coop­er’s Immer­sion project, a video col­lec­tion of the alter­nate­ly grotesque and dull expres­sions appear­ing on peo­ple’s faces as they play video games and watch YouTube. (The view­er is nev­er privy to what’s show­ing on the sub­jects’ screens, but one sus­pects it’s like­ly less rar­i­fied than a short ani­ma­tion inspired by physi­cist Richard Feyn­man’s remarks on a flower or film­mak­er Miran­da July’s lyri­cal advice to the pro­cras­ti­na­tion-prone). But before we denounce the most­ly under­aged par­tic­i­pants’ dead eyes and slack jaws—an effect made more dis­turb­ing by the sound­track­’s high inci­dence of gunfire—perhaps we should turn the web cam on our­selves.

That’s exact­ly what Coop­er is hop­ing will hap­pen, as he pre­pares to expand the pro­jec­t’s scope to include peo­ple of all ages and nation­al­i­ties. “Babies being born right now arrive in a land­scape where com­put­ers, smart­phones, the inter­net, and social media already exist,” he explains, “While the old­est gen­er­a­tion alive today can remem­ber a time before TV was a fix­ture of our liv­ing room.”

To widen the net, Coop­er is turn­ing to crowd sourc­ing. Whether some­one who know­ing­ly trains the cam­era on him or her­self can achieve the pre­vi­ous par­tic­i­pants zoo-like lack of inhi­bi­tion remains to be seen, but the Kick­starter cam­paign to fund this next phase lays things out on a grand scale. The plan is for the pub­lic to con­tribute via uploads and a social media aggre­ga­tor. More excit­ing­ly, they’re encour­aged to seize the reins by cre­at­ing a series of instruc­tions and prompts for those com­ing lat­er to fol­low.

Let us hope this will lead to a more heart­en­ing vari­ety of expres­sions, as well as the book, doc­u­men­tary, and  inter­ac­tive exhibits Coop­er envi­sions.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

This is Your Kid on Tele­vi­sion

Art in the Era of the Inter­net (and Why Open Edu­ca­tion Mat­ters)

The Cre­ators Project Presents the Future of Art and Design, Brought to You by Intel and Vice Mag­a­zine

Ayun Hal­l­i­day’s lap­top is direct­ly respon­si­ble for two ver­ti­cal creas­es between her brows.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.