Connect – An Interactive Artwork of COVID Communications

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Explore an interactive landscape of screenshots and samples from COVID Communications.

Connect is an interactive environment by artist Sian Fan. A 360 walkthrough of the interactive archive showing screenshots of digital communications from the people of Tendring during the Covid-19 pandemic submitted through an open call. Connect explores how our physical experiences have been reshaped through communication technologies like Zoom, FaceTime and the many other ways we connect online.

We spoke with artist Sian Fan to understand her process behind the artwork.

This is artwork is part of our Talk Time project and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Essex 2020.

How would you describe the final piece?

Connect, is an interactive environment that embodies the virtual voices of the people of Tendring during lockdown. It physicalises their digital communications, allowing an immersive and intimate glimpse of their thoughts, feelings and experiences.

Where did the idea come from?

The idea for the work came from the sudden shift from physical to digital communications caused by Covid. I was interested in the change in how we experienced these communications, suddenly losing any physical or spatial presence, and being faced with these flat screens that had to embody all the human contact and feeling that we were now missing. I was also interested in the volume of digital communications, for me it felt overwhelming, like I was constantly bombarded with messages, video calls and emails. I wanted to represent the huge flurry of information that was being transmitted by the people of Tendring, immersing the viewer in these messages, and giving a snapshot into someone’s thoughts and feelings during this time. I also wanted to put back in a sense of physicality, allowing the viewer to digitally walk through the messages and to experience them flitting about around them. Unlike the other projects, this one didn’t have the beauty of hindsight, so I really wanted to capture the immediacy and the unpredictability of the experience. I wanted to allow for the submissions to speak for themselves, but not to be analysed in detail. You catch a glimpse of message, but before you can read it all it has disappeared.

How did you find working with ‘user submitted’ content?

I really enjoyed exploring the submissions from the open call, it was really touching to have what are essentially quite private and personal moments shared with me. It was also really interesting to see the different ways people had embraced digital communications, for example some people held amazing fancy dress Zoom parties that it were particularly exciting to see!

The conversations with the Jaywick Martello Tower ‘Creative Net’ group were also really interesting. It was really rewarding and refreshing to learn about the innovative ways people had adopted digital communications, and to hear how they might be taking them forwards into the future. It was also interesting to hear how these methods had changed over the course of the crisis, as people adapted.

Did you have any final reflections?

Overall it was a great opportunity to reflect upon the strange experiences that we have all had in the past few months and to think about how we move forwards.

Want to explore the interactive landscape yourself?

 

Connect is made for playing on laptop or pc only. Connect does not work on Safari. Please use Chrome or Firefox.

Instructions: Use your arrow keys to move, your mouse to look around and space bar to jump.

This project was made possible with funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Essex 2020.

Client list

Signpost Resource Centres
Colchester Borough Council
Essex County Council
Mercury Theatre Colchester
Colchester + Ipswich Museums
Family Mosaic
University of Essex
Carnegie UK Trust
Firstsite
Action for Children
BFI Film Forever
North Essex Heritage Learning 2019
Suffolk County Council
Southend on Sea Borough Council
Hertfordshire Libraries
Mind