Framed photograph, plotter, metal shards, magnet, mini PC, tripod, viewfinder with IR camera, and eye-tracking software
The Wandering Gaze project explores the relationship between the observer’s gaze and a given image, using eye-tracking technology.
Wandering Gaze allows the viewers’ gaze to be transformed into a tangible path that will, slowly and over time, erode the surface of a photograph. This idea of surface was very interesting to me, so I started thinking about a “piercing gaze”, a way of materializing gaze. I was interested in the relationship between transparency and opacity of the photographic image, particularly of the surface where it is inscribed. In Wandering Gaze that is emphasised in a literal way: the more we look at the image, the more it will vanish in front of our eyes. On the other hand, the image is now a performative space as the viewers’ gaze is invited to wander and explore the image, contributing to the piece but, ultimately, causing the print’s deterioration.
The installation consists of an X-Y plotter concealed behind a framed printed photograph, dynamically positioning a magnet behind the image. While observing the photograph through the viewfinder, the path traced by the viewer's gaze is recorded by the eye-tracking system, and then retraced by the plotter-manipulated magnet. On the front of the image, a cluster of metal swarf follows the magnet, and subsequently, through erosion scrapes away the image surface.
Therefore, how does the change in the (im)materiality of the gaze affect the experience of our own bodies? Knowing that looking at the image through the viewfinder will eventually destroy the photograph, will we keep peeking through it? Curiosity killed the cat, or in this case, the print?
Video by Tiago Rorke
This project was developed with the technical assistance of Makers in Little Lisbon (Tiago Rorke, Maurício Martins e Pedro Ângelo)
Format Festival, The Tramshed, Derby, UK
Athens Photo Festival, Benaki Museum, Athens, GR
Test print of erosion