“World Skin” by Maurice Benayoun is an interactive CAVE installation that takes visitors on a “photo safari” into a land of warfare. It received the Golden Nica Prize for Interactive Art at the 1998 Prix Ars Electronica.
In “World Skin,” visitors armed with cameras move through a three-dimensional space in which a compilation of photos and news images from different battle zones constitute a universe filled with mute violence.
One must intervene in this sad, chaotic equilibrium. Each visitor can take pictures and thereby capture a piece of this world wrestling with death, as each photographed fragment vanishes from the projection surface and is replaced by a black silhouette. The photographer gets a paper printout of the image, and a part of the world is thus extinguished with each exposure. “World Skin” illustrates the significance of the image, since it is via pictures that we take possession of the world—the world falls victim to mankind’s glance.
“World Skin” focuses on the status of media images through which realities of unsurpassed rawness and brutality that exist in our perceptive faculties are reduced to an emotionally superficial level. Media make the perilous interactive community undertaking of warfare into a publicly staged production in that they bring everything onto one and the same level. The image neutralizes the content. The CAVE installation’s audio material by Jean-Baptiste Barrière enables visitors to experience this process of submersion as real participation in the drama that goes beyond the play of images alone. It reproduces the soundscape of a world in which breathing is synonymous with suffering. World Skin had its public premiere at the Ars Electronica Festival 98.
Ars Electronica Center
Z.A. Production/Silicon Graphics