Artist Eric Siu has created a camera/headset that only lets you see when someone is physically touching you. The user puts “Touchy” on his head, and shutters close over his eyes until he makes human contact. Once human contact is made, the shutters open and you can see the person. Once the contact is broken, the shutters close again. If human contact is maintained for more than ten seconds, a picture is taken.
Not a very useful invention, but it does work as a bit of concept art. Siu is interested in changing social anxiety, which he thinks is caused by over-reliance on digital medium like Facebook and Twitter. In our world, often people can be seen and not touched. Siu flips that by making it so you have to be touched in order to see some one. This has the effect of turning the wearer into the social device.
Siu talked with The Creators Project about his inspiration for the project: “The Touchy helmet intends to exaggerate the anxiety and remind one of their isolation to the world, so every single touch becomes extra meaningful. I hope this contrast is where I can generate a dialogue with the audience.”
He continues to bash social media culture and how it has changed our society for the worse. People are no longer active participants in life, but rather documentarians of human experience. “Not only do you have to take the photos, but you also have to post them on Facebook or Instagram for validation—and it’s true that certain qualities of your connection to reality become distanced. In Hong Kong people go to see a concert as a camera person rather than as an audience. While they’re looking at the iPhone screen, they forget the real singer is standing right in front of them.”
But social media isn’t all bad for Siu. He says he uses both Twitter and Facebook, as they are a great way to centralize your network. He just warns of the dangers of substituting that reality for physical communication. “The bitter part is that you believe you are already socially capable with the glorifying number of friends on your profile, which is just a figure. These cultivate social laziness and dependency and to a certain extend it just creates more social bubbles. More so, I think the influence of social media has generated unnecessary pressure and anxiety for people: how many “likes” did I gain from the concert photo that I posted? Does my ex realize I changed my relationship status? Etc…”