Tiffany Sum’s work explores the im/possibility of intimacy between body and technology. Through interactivity in participatory situations, impressions alternate between the visceral and palpable, the fleeting and intangible. The responsive environment generates a constantly changing social formation among the audience. The process of internalizing these impressions into personally meaningful enactments can be voluntary — as in the gallery, or involuntary — as in the public place.
Lake Intervention [was] designed and installed a temporary underwater sound system in a lake in Skowhegan, Maine. The music of hearing impared artists was broadcast underwater for the duration of the installation. Underwater sound* is heard through the body, not the ears. One actually hears more clearly when plugging the ears with fingers. First, we wanted to give swimmers an experience that would baffle them. Stepping into the water you hear nothing. Immerse yourself in the water and hear a symphony. Second, we asked the question, “what is it to ‘think’ a sound? How is a sound imagined before it is produced?” We were able to use the lake water as a medium through which our audience could connect to another artist’s experience, a composer’s thoughts.
On a hot afternoon in August, students flocked to the lake for their afternoon swim. Soon they were surprised at the discovery of underwater sound and listened together. The following afternoon the water was once again silent. Our installation was perhaps as fleeting as that melody that gets stuck in your head for a moment, only to disappear at the next distraction.
fingering is a reactive video installation where audience is tracked by the projected character. Expanding the “mirror-reflective” nature of video through interactive media, fingering transforms the tabloid of gaze from a sinister seduction. It stages viewers to bridge the cinematic representation and their physical presence, which “kills”. Interplay with the action genre in Hong Kong, the classic fatal kung-fu move of the index finger unfolds a cultural and sexual subtext. A Chinese woman holding a “finger-gun” aims at the moving viewer and will “fire” if the viewer stays completely still for more than 7 seconds in front of her. Nobody is hurt in the end but herself. The tragic representation through visual and audio effects relates the experiences of the psychological, the corporeal and the virtual landscape in digital technology.