A unique sculptural interface for anonymous touch telecommunication
Alice and Bob is a proposed interactive work consisting of two identical sculptures—one named Alice, the other Bob. Alice will be located in a public space, with an interface consisting of a 12" x 12" array of 2,401 stainless steel pins. Much like the “pin toys” many of us remember from childhood, a viewer (participant A) will be invited to push on Alice’s pins, where the topography of the participant’s hand will be recorded by a central computer.
Meanwhile, somewhere else in the world, Bob will also be sitting in a public space (its central computer connected to that of Alice via an internet connection) offering an identical array of 2,401 pins to a second viewer (participant B). In real time, a precise three-dimensional representation of Participant A’s hand will be rendered on Bob’s array by means of actuators that will mechanically move each individual pin to its proper location. Participant B will then have the option of pushing back on those same pins, and in turn, having his or her hand’s topography transferred back to Alice’s array (if participant A’s hand is still in place, participant B will encounter resistance when attempting to push back).
The subtle back-and-forth movements and pressures applied to the pins by both participants will be transmitted back and forth between the two sculptures, all in real time, thereby creating a unique means of “touch communication” that will traverse vast distances. No information will be provided to each participant about the other (no face, no sound, no name); only the shape of the other participant’s hand—and the movements that he or she chooses to make with that hand—will be discernible.