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Film & Video | Apr 2016

Dominique Paul’s “Interactive Median Revenue Dress: Acting as a Social Interface”


Dominique Paul's "Interactive Median Revenue Dress: Acting as a Social Interface"

This dress, by RU artist Dominique Paul, shows online data translated back into the physical space where it originated from. The data is the Median household income form the US Census Bureau. It is very detailed ranging from a red color code to a blue color for the highest income : 0-15000$, 15-25,000$, 25-50,000$, 50-75,000$, 75-100,000$, 100-15,000$, 150-200,000$ and 200,000$ +

"Being a visual artist, I thought that the changes in color and intensity would be interesting enough. I was planning to have the changes filmed while I walked across different zones. I had performed in New York before, but not in the streets. Hence, the surprise the first time I went for a walk with the crew: people on the street were intrigued by the technology embedded in the dress and wanted to talk to me... A microphone was required! Such that the project evolved towards interacting with the public. I had no experience holding a microphone or asking questions, but the dress did the work for me. At first the passersby were wondering what the dress was about and once I explained it, nobody was indifferent to the changes they were witnessing in their neighborhood : it touched them directly. I walked in three New York boroughs. First, in the South Bronx, around my studio at Casita Maria Center for the Arts and Education. Then, in Brooklyn, in an area of intense gentrification where I could cover seven income brackets in a twenty minutes walk, thus adapting the idea for Lower Manhattan where I could cover the whole range of the eight zones. I have also walked with other theme dresses\structures displaying data about the environment and other social issues in a non interactive way, but they did not trigger this high degree of interaction with the public that the Median Revenue Dress achieved. In other words, the technology is at the core of the success of this dress acting as a social interface. Translating the data visually brings an awareness in the physical space." - Dominique Paul

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