Beyond Authority – Unmasking the Digital Veil

by Team Byte Me

Exploring the Disconnect in a Hyper-Connected World

Concept. Our interactive installation, "Beyond Authority – Unmasking the Digital Veil", is a symbolic prison that showcases the dark side of technology, such as facilitating bullying and eroding empathy. Participants play as prison guards, demonstrating the power and responsibility people have in shaping a more connected society.

Narrative. Participants navigate a prison-like environment where they have the power to harm a mannequin. The mannequin isn't literally representing technology itself, but rather the emotionless, dehumanised, and often anonymous nature of our interactions within the digital space that is largely shaped by technology. It serves as a physical embodiment of the faceless individuals we interact with online and the impersonal feeling that technology can sometimes create. Through this interaction you'll learn how human behaviors, attitudes, and choices in the digital space can have tangible impacts. We show how easily we can cause harm or discomfort when the recipient is reduced to just a figure on a screen.

Intended Experience. It's all about choice. Participants are faced with a decision - to continue inflicting harm using the objects provided or to pull the lever, symbolising a break from the negative use of technology. This choice reflects individual attitudes towards online interactions.

Outcome of Interaction. Participants experience first-hand the potential consequences of their digital actions. This immersive experience is designed to evoke reflection on one's own digital behavior, making participants conscious of their online actions and potential to cause harm or foster connection.

Message. The installation aims to unmask the disconnection prevalent in our digital society. We invite participant to step into the shoes of a digital oppressor and see how it feels to hurt someone. In contrast to the objects of opression we offer a metal lever that serves as a beacon of hope in this technological dark prison that is ubiquitous in our lives. The ultimate goal is to inspire a more mindful and empathetic use of technology, transforming the digital prison into a truly connected realm.

Join us on this exploration of the hidden side of technology, as we uncover the disconnect that lies beneath the surface of our digitally connected existence.

Technical Description

The Installation. The installation in the form of a 3m x 3m Marquee covered with black cloth and wrapped in the chicken wire depicts prison like environment - dark, unsettling atmosphere with a distant sound of screams, heavy breathing, cry. A table with 3 objects to harm a mannequin, standalone wooden post with metal lever to facilitate empathy, prison bar in the form of a gate, a mannequin and TV are placed inside the Marquee.

Introduction to the Concept. Before engaging, a pre-recorded narration in the form of a 1-minute audio file will be played through the speaker. The deep tone male voice explains the concept, participant's role, rules of engagement and deeper meaning necessary to trigger reflectiveness.

Engagement with the Mannequin. The mannequin contains Arduino Uno board located inside the funny pack. When participants interact with the mannequin, sensors on the Arduino Uno trigger corresponding pre-recorded videos. In total, there are 10 video clips with 10 audio voice overs depicting different scenarios when we interact with the mannequin

  • Baton - 4 videos / 4 voiceovers
  • Flashlight - 1 video / 1 voice over
  • Headphones - 1 video / 1 voice over
  • "Pain" warning at counter hit #5 - 1 video / 1 voice over
  • "Pain" warning at counter hit #9 - 1 video / 1 voice over
  • The "end game" final hit #12 - 1 video / 1 voice over
  • Pulling the lever to release prisoner - 1 video / 1 voice over

  • - Each interaction corresponds to one of 10 pre-recorded videos. An encouraging voiceover rewards participants with 10 different phrases like "Good job," and "Excellent," each time they harm the mannequin, reinforcing the harmful behaviour.
  • - Participants may use any object multiple times.
  • - An on-screen "Health Bar" indicates the intensity of interactions. After 12 hits, it changes color, signalling the end game with a video of a human in severe pain.
  • - At hit counts 5 and 9, "Pain" warnings display a person begging for mercy, promoting reflection and consideration of the empathy option.
  • - Choice 1: If participants hit the mannequin 12 times, a video of a person in agony plays. A sarcastic commentary underscores the ease of inflicting pain and the impact of our online actions.
  • - Choice 2: Pulling the lever triggers a video of a person being freed. A calming voiceover reinforces the importance of empathy and human connection in our digital world.

Technology that Promotes Disconnection, Bullying and Oppression All interactions are coded using Arduino Uno board. Laptop with open Unity scene is connected to TV. When sensors detect change, the corresponding video is played automatically on the TV. To inflict virtual harm 3 objects are located on the table:

  1. Police Baton - accelerometer detects the movement of the mannequin and located on the right side of the shoulder. When the necessary threshold is achieved, the video will be shown on TV.
  2. Flashlight - used to allow light sensor on Arduino board, located in the eye of a mannequin, to detect changes in the surrounding light and output a specific video.
  3. Headphones - used to cover the light sensor installed in the ear of the mannequin. The change in light (headphones cover the ear) result in the output of the corresponding video

Technology that Facilitates Empathy and Emotional Connectivity

  1. The metal lever on the wooden post is connected to the Arduino board using tinfoil wrapped around the handle and a cable. When participants touch the handle they put pressure on the tinfoil.
  2. Once the Arduino detects the change in pressure, it communicates with the Unity scene on the connected laptop to trigger a video. This video on the TV show the prisoner being released and the celestial voice over explains the potential for a more empathetic and connected digital world.
  3. Warning signs such as "Danger", "Hazards", and "Don't Touch" are deliberately placed to deter interaction with the lever as the main emphasis is based around paradoxical nature of our digital behaviours.