Michael Day

Hooked Exhibition Application

Oct 2016

What would it be like to see a habit forming?
My artistic practice is informed by a research interest in compulsive device usage. Why do we spend so much time on our smartphones?
Writers like Nick Carr suggest that we are hard-wired for distractibility, and cites neuroplasticity as evidence that we are training ourselves to be distracted. Nir Eyal also describes the 'compulsion loop' and the way in which triggers for repeat behaviour are often to do with affectual discomfort. Boredom, indecision: these are the emotional states that prompt the desire to engage with digital devices, and addictive responses to user interfaces become reinforced by small, repetitive behaviours and movements like taps and swipes.

Time On Device has two stages. The first stage will involve data gathering during the preproduction period. A number of selected participants will be supplied with a modified smartphone (rooted and installed with a benign 'key-logging' app) that will record each touch, swipe or key press with a time stamp. This data will be gathered for 24 hours and then the phone returned and the data retrieved. This data will then be visualised in the gallery as a screen-based work that 'plays back' these taps in real time. The piece turns the process of habit formation into a growing morass of thumb-taps, swipes and jabs dispersed in three-dimensional space. Viewers will be able to watch the accrual of normally ignored gestures a nd will see them accumulate into a multiple, visually complex mass. The intention is to make visible the quantity of micro-gestures that take place over a typical day's device usage, and to reveal the scale of the reinforcement that accompanies everyday smartphone use.

Audience experience
Please explain how an average visitor will experience your project. Specify what they wil see and do. (200 words max)
The piece is a screen-based piece that plays back the data gathered from the smartphone user in real time, generating a 3D visualisation. At this early stage of development, I'm working with very rudimentary geometric visualisations, but it's anticipated that the final work will have a more organic feel. Regardless, I intend that the imagery is quite understated. Rather than presenting these interactions as a whizz-bang visual spectacle, the piece needs to be more of a 'curio': the point of the work is to make visible actions that are usually carried out below the threshold of attention, so it's important that they are presented in a way that alludes to their everyday invisibility.

Outline any budget requirements and/or details of any funding already in place.
If my application is successful, I intend to seek match funding to pay a programmer to speed up the production and prototyping process. There is a google sheet with a budget on it.