Aporia is proud to announce the launch of Morgan Doctor’s STRANGERS, a telematic and transmedia art project that reimagines the traditional definition of the ‘album’ together with the traditional role of the “record label”. Telematic art uses computer-mediated telecommunications networks as the medium, while transmedia storytelling is the technique of expressing an experience across multiple platforms and formats using digital technologies.
STRANGERS is perhaps best described by Roy Ascott’s neologism Gesamtdatenwerk, as outlined (with more than a small nod to Richard Wagner) in his 1990 essay “Is There Love in the Telematic Embrace?” In what now seems like a prescient depiction of the smartphone and social media, Ascott foresaw the emergence of what he called the “interpersonal computer,” suggesting “that we do not think, see, or feel in isolation. Creativity is shared, authorship is distributed…” For Ascott, this level of distant collaboration and unification is promoted by the universal principle of love.
Recontextualized in the era of COVID, the question of love and the telematic embrace is more relevant than ever. Distance has now become the new normal, and our newly habituated physical habits estrange us from even our dearest friends. Indeed, we speak to the very people who gave us life via Zoom chats only, afraid that normal acts of affection will result in severe illness. On the flip-side, once normal interactions in everyday life that could lead to life-long friendships are a thing of the past, and strangers that might become friends, now remain unknown to us.
We begin all relationships as strangers, and, despite forming intimate connections, we leave many feeling as though, once again, we don’t know each other. Or, we can form intimate connections with people whom we don’t know at all and might never see again. We are all strangers in this world, yet we have a deep capacity to connect.
STRANGERS explores the actions of connecting and disconnecting, and the fragile boundary between intimacy and estrangement.
Presented within an introspective and enthralling environment that combines music and images with the web, text message and voicemail, participants are invited to leave a loving message for a complete stranger. It might be an open letter to humanity, perhaps a confession, or the verbalization of one’s heart’s desire. For every message received, a machine-learning algorithm selects from the submissions of previous participants, and performs an exchange — rewarding the participant with their own special message from a stranger. Everything is designed to be anonymous, creating a sense of intimacy among strangers.