Two giant pairs of eyes are now ogling passers-by in central London – all in the name of art. “Eye Contact”, a video installation by artist Peter Hudson set up in the windows of science museum Wellcome Collection, consists of real footage taken from the eyes of 68 volunteers, displayed on more than 650 ‘pixel’ panels.
Metro catches up with the artist to learn about this project.
Metro:What’s your inspiration behind the work?
Hudson:Basically, our ever-increasing reliance on the digital screen to consume. I chose eyes for being a symbol of perception and an instantly recognizable human feature. I then calculated a level of pixellation so that up close the image is difficult to discern and appears as flickering a mosaic, but from the other side of the street, the image is much more visible. This is to disrupt the normally fluid process of recognition, making the viewer more aware of the screen.The entire concept is meant to represent people seeing people on digital screens. I’m questioning whether eye contact is actually possible digitally speaking and what that means.
How does it work?
By day, a different pair of eyes appears every 6 minutes or so. An interactive element comes into play at night. At sunset, the eyes go to sleep and will remain asleep unless woken up by someone walking near the video panels.
Was the installation a challenge to set up?
It involved a lot of work, I must say. The display has over 650 ‘pixel’ panels, over 16,000 colored LEDs on 2,736 modules all plugged in and installed by hand.
What’s been the public reaction? Freaked out?
I’ve enjoyed hearing what people think: some say it’s ever-watching surveillance, like Big Brother from George Orwell’s “1984”. Others are drawn by the warm colors and slow pace of the videos. I love the ambiguity of it.
Give me three words to describe your artwork.
That’s a really tough question: reflective, illuminating, disruptive.