The Law of Viscosity
graduation show "gradual issues", artez finals
This work starts with a notification from my friend ‘We are bombing Kiev’. And all the following interactions of mine with screens, screams, people and information. While the Russian invasion of Ukraine is by far not the first War to happen in the digital age, it is the first one that touched me so intimately. This event led to me questioning immigration, social media policies, and ways in which we exact empathy.

I started seeing the world as a series of screen-barriers, parallel realities where I feel like a glitch, stuck in textures. Intruder of comfort on the wrong side of the sleek black protective glass behind which the atrocities of the world are played, scrolled, clicked, and liked.

This installation challenges the seamless choices hidden in interaction with content online. It pushes you to make your choice to engage with my words — embodied. The liquid inside does not abide by Newton’s Laws of Viscosity: you can choose to run through only touching the surface, or to get stuck and listen. Unlike a screen, it is not impenetrable. Where blunt force only meets resistance, mindful engagement can allow you to decide: are you ready to sink?
The process
My exploration focused on the ways in which people interact with news of war online and how this information merges with advertisements and memes. I also delved into the concept of "Sensitive Content" and whose experiences are ultimately being blurred away behind this label.

To gain a deeper understanding of these issues, I interviewed Ukrainians, Russians, and Europeans and read up on how we collectively experience pain and precarity. Using this research, I created a video essay that explored the complex tensions surrounding these themes and described my own experience.

In the installation, the video essay was only visible to those who stopped and listened, while others could view the Instagram feed consisting of a mix of bombings, advertisements, and pictures of friends. When you stopped, you sank, feeling the weight of engagement. This effect was achieved using an ultrasonic proximity sensor and a Processing sketch. The non-Newtonian liquid, Oobleck, was responsible for the physical sensations experienced by visitors. I tested various proportions of mixing cornstarch with water until its viscosity was just right.

Visitors partially completed the installation themselves by discussing their thoughts and experiences with me, offering new interpretations and sharing what resonated with them. I believe this project successfully opened up discussions about a very heavy topic with people who are not directly affected by it.