Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2016

Author's School

Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts

Author's Program


Degree Name

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)




In our current society, there is a constant endeavor to reconcile our differences while respecting our individuality. Since the 1990s, a large amount of artworks begin focusing on human relationships. In this essay, I discuss the question: how can interactive artworks create common ground between people while respecting their individual identity? Through creating a sequence of interactive artworks, I determine the three factors that are necessary for connecting people of different backgrounds—mutual vulnerability, anonymity, and the leveling of power dynamics. Mutual vulnerability entails an interaction where two people reveal themselves to each other, and connect through this reciprocal action. Anonymity involves having people reveal only single aspects of their body to avoid pigeonholing, and encourage them to focus on feeling the humanistic presence of each other. Leveling of power dynamics regulates this process further by ensuring the interactions are initiated by both people simultaneously, so neither person can initiate nor feel obligated to respond. These constraints on an interaction create situations where people, regardless of their identities, can quickly connect and build a sense of mutual fondness and respect. In conclusion, I discuss the ethics of an artist’s control over an interpersonal interaction, and how my works perpetuates the importance of individuality.

Mentor/Primary Advisor

Lisa Bulawsky

Artist's Statement

Why does one care for certain people, yet regard others almost like moving objects? Why must one form prejudice against others? We tend to ignore the intrinsic positive human qualities of others as we walk around in the public; we rarely perceive others as entities with lives just as complex and aspirations just as valid as our own. We easily form assumptions of others through superficial cues and forget the inherent similarities we share. My works are interactive structures that attempt to subvert these social tendencies and connect two strangers on a simple yet emotional level. They take on utilitarian appearances similar to that of public facilities such as playground structures or phone booths and are placed in public areas. I utilize these familiar forms to suggest possible ways of usage, and encourage passersby’s voluntary interaction. Once two participants activate the structure, they are prompted to playfully interact with each other through limited methods of contact and perceive each other’s presence from a different perspective. These structures pronounce certain biometric and emotional features of the participants, such as eyes, hands, and breathing, and allow them to examine each other closely. The simultaneous action of observing and being observed puts participants on an intimate level of interaction that is often deliberately avoided in public settings. By transforming our social settings with distinctive structures, I challenge our habit of shielding ourselves from strangers, forming judgments from superficial cues, and regarding others as persons of less substantial humanity than ourselves as we coexist in the public realm.