GAZING FIGURES (2017) is a performance piece that Jasper Meiners and Isabel Paehr developed as experiment no 8 in their research series future perspectives. It is driven by the question how moving and seeing are interlinked. The work consists of a performer wearing a VR suit powered by Raspberry Pi computers, a terrarium containing the jumping spider Phidippus Regius and screens that mediate between the performer’s and the visitor’s point(s) of view. Like a jumping spider, the performer uses multiple visual sensors and can see through webcams attached to their wrists and knees.
GAZING FIGURES lets go of two-eyed vision, which virtual reality systems rely on, and confronts human users with a new experience of space, broadened by a multi-eyed perspective. Whilst their performance, Meiners and Paehr use self-invented VR suits, VR headsets and two cameras each attached to their wrists and knees. Four live images, recorded by the cameras on their bodies, appear on displays inside the suits and are simultaneously transferred to monitors located in the exhibition. Every — under other circumstances simple — movement of the artists throughout the room turns into a complex challenge due to the multi-eyed process. The coordination of arms and legs intertwine in an unfamiliar way with the camera movements and provoke new ways of using the body. The performing artists as well as the viewers witness an experiment that shifts the usual perspective by provoking alternative views trough irritation, intimacy and distortion. The performer‘s careful movements show the effects of a technologically modified and complex perception. […] GAZING FIGURES creates a future perspective that critically questions the currently prevailing ideology of Virtual Reality. Will the experiment — intellectually as well as technologically — expand our steady view to a flexible system of perspectives?
— Excerpt from the catalogue text of MONITORING 2017 (Olaf Val, Jasper Meiners, Isabel Paehr)