by Ean Steinberger '19, David Major '20, Leila About-Jaoude '22, Maya von Ziegesar '19

What does it mean to control another person’s experience, and to understand an environment that you yourself cannot experience? How can people, physically separated, communicate to find common ground? Our project, InterMedia, explores these questions.  

InterMedia provides two simultaneous and separate experiences for two participants. The first participant wears a full-body suit, which covers her from ankles to fingers to the top of her head. She can only see the lights inside the hood and hear the sounds produced by the headphones. A second participant controls the sensors on the suit’s exterior, which connect to these lights and sounds, and thus defines an environment to which she has no access. The position of the suit in space impacts the larger, exterior environment, the environment experienced by all those not wearing the suit. The lights and sounds in the room shift as the two participants interact with each other, positively reinforcing their communication and encouraging them to come together.

We hope to touch on ideas of control, empathy and communication despite experiential differences. We have designed our project to be an immersive experience, wherein each participant controls the other’s environment and only has access to that environment insofar as they are able to empathize with the other. They must explore their different environments collaboratively, both limited by their perspectives and the rules of the space. Our project requests that we consider the unseen implications of our decisions and interactions, and how we can use empathy to understand experiences to which we do not have direct access.