As part of Stetson University’s Values Day 2019: Activism Through the Arts, Stetson faculty writer Teresa Carmody, new-media artist Matt Roberts, animator Dengke Chen, and poet Terri Witek repurposed computers in Davis Hall Computer Lab to respond to human breath.
The project is called “Breathe the Machine.”
Every breath from a participant prompted an on-screen reaction from the computer, which then transmitted the individual data to populate a two-dimensional world projected on a wall.
Those who dropped in on the interactive workshop moved from computer to computer. As they activated a computer with exhales, the screen responded with either images of trash picked up on local beaches, or text fragments from a story writer Carmody called “near-fiction.”
The project was featured at the &Now Festival of Innovative Writing at the University of Washington in Seattle on Sept. 21, where it was installed in another computer lab.
“Breathe the Machine” is the result of a yearlong Inquiry Circle grant from Stetson’s Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence.
Terri Witek said, “Are our exhales themselves invasive? Gone viral, that sneeze. Onto screens more inhabited than countries if you think of millions of microbes emerging from our mouths like language does: talk dirty, everybody. But hey, it’s our world’s expiration date just over there, and things have gone combinatory without us: just last week a girl at the nail salon, told she couldn’t recharge her phone, she said they might just as well take away her breath. So let’s stay with the trouble and the story we are already so far into: let’s Breathe the Machine…..”