An artist is using virtual reality to experience life through another person’s eyes and ears. For 28 days, Mark Farid will be living his life through what he refers to as “The Other” – a person whose day-to-day existence and conversations will be streamed via an Oculus Rift headset. “The Seeing-I project is a social-artistic experiment that questions how much of the individual is an inherent personality and how large a portion of the individual is a cultural identity,” explains the Londoner on his Kickstarter page. The 22-year-old, whose project takes place in a gallery, will have no interaction with any other human being save one hour per day with a psychologist. Farid tells Metro why Seeing-I “will help us understand the ways in which technology has and is affecting us”.
Metro: How did you come up with the experiment?
Farid: This social-artistic experiment was born when I was thinking about what makes you, you. I don’t think any of the realities in which we live are genuine. We take physical reality as "real", but every building, road, park and garden has been designed. For example, trees are planted with the express goals of pertaining to position, pollution and colors. Everything within our existence is not natural, so I wanted to explore something different.
Why will you be doing it for exactly 28 days?
Due to the amount of current documentation stipulating that we lose and develop habits after three weeks, I have decided that four weeks is an adequate timeframe to give an indication of how these new habits are adopted.
Have you done something like this before?
The closest I’ve come to this is trying to stay awake for 101 hours… so not really. But I’m incredibly frustrated of how long it’s taken getting to this point, and yet there is still a lot further to go until the Seeing-I happens.
It looks like an endurance test...
This is not. If my crew feel that it is going too far and it could harm me, then I will have to take off the virtual reality headset. Anyway, I have to prepare: currently I’m undergoing sessions with a psychologist.
What equipment will you use?
A virtual reality headset. But this will probably change, depending on what tech is available on the market at the time. There definitely will be bespoke “spy” glasses with digital lenses and two binder microphones built in. They will have 2Tb of storage and a 24-hour battery life.
Whose life will you be living?
I know nothing of this person, other than that they are a heterosexual male over the age of 21 who is living with his wife or girlfriend. I call him “The Other”.
How will you eat, for example?
I will eat at the same time as “The Other” but in the physical world.
Why are you not to have contact with anyone else?
The only contact will be with a psychologist for one hour a day, where I will still be wearing the VR headset and headphones, and I will be speaking to him through the headphones - it will act more as a verbal diary though.