An interactive telephone for offline communication



Our conversations are now held increasingly more online than offline. It extends beyond civilization’s first invention of the acoustic string telephone. How we converse today has revolutionized from analog to digital platforms, where we have lost the sense of human tangibility, and develop personas as incognito.


Lanier states that, “Anonymous blog comments, vapid video pranks, and lightweight mashups may seem trivial and harmless, but as a whole, this widespread practice of fragmentary, impersonal communication has demeaned interpersonal interaction. Communication is now often experienced as superhuman phenomenon that towers above individuals. A new generation has come of age with a reduced expectation of what a person can be, and of who each person might become.” This speculates on how modern societies are growing increasingly connected over cyber networks. With the accelerating pace of human demographic growth, are we truly becoming more intertwined with humanity— or are we just becoming more alone in crowded spaces?







What does it mean to be Offline?

With the absence of physical presence in a digital realm, this experiential installation observes the asocial communicative behaviour between two strangers meeting for the first time, face to face.


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Every person enters the installation as an anonymous figure— a back-lit ambiguous silhouette before he begins the conversation.


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The Setup

A web camera is attached at the back of the vinyl, and the perfect circular incision in the middle is used as a pinhole, to capture people’s faces on each side of the installation. Devices and electronics used were kept hidden at the back platform.


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How it Works — Visuality

When a person comes face to face with the larger-than-life paper cup, the Arduino Rangefinder attached at the rim of the installation, starts to trigger the led strip to light up. It starts off as looking through a ‘tunnel’, a symbolism of our tunnel vision when it comes to our relationship with technology.

When a conversation is being held, the light starts to flicker in motion and exposes the facial features of the communicator at the other end of the line.

Technologies represented: Facial Recognition


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How it Works — Audio Distortion

Speakers and microphones are hidden at the back of the installation. These pick up the voices of the people communicating through the cups. These voices were then distorted to a ingenuine, robotic voice.


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How it Works — Face Projection

A vinyl record is placed on the inside of the cup, creating a platform that projects the face of the communicator at the other end of the line.






The Outcome

What happens when you expose your identity to a stranger for the very first time?