Krzysztof Wodiczko is an artist who produces work like nothing I’ve ever seen before. His medium is slide and video projection and his work ranges from projecting images onto the sides of buildings to creating intricate devices enabling projections directly from human bodies. His work has strong messages advocating victimized and disadvantaged members of a wide spectrum of different societies.
What particularly first caught my attention was this photo from The Dis-Armor Project.
Upon first glance it looked to me like some sort of humorous science fiction parody. Reading the description of the project’s purpose however reveals a much more serious (and innovative) intent. Instruments were developed which allow people who have been socially traumatized to interact with other people without the need for face-to-face contact. Video cameras and projectors are installed into a combination headset and backpack which project images of the wearer’s eyes onto a screen on their backs, and their voice through a speaker system. A rearview mirror allows them to view people behind them without turning around, so whole conversations can be possible without direct contact. This device can act as a bridge to normalcy for people who are too emotionally scarred to feel comfortable coming into direct contact with other people and without such a tool might not be able to function independently in society. The Dis-Armor project is both a work of art and technology which makes a meaningful impact on people’s lives.
The CECUT Project was another work of his that really struck me as meaningful. Headsets connected to projectors were developed to cast amplified images of the wearer’s face onto the surface behind them. The project focused on giving a voice to women factory workers in Tijuana. These women work in an industry where the typical wage is only 1/6 of what the US hourly rate would be, and sexual exploitation is a particular problem for women. The women’s faces were projected onto a spherical building which created a haunting image which I think really added impact to their stories as they shared them with their audience.
Krzysztof Wodiczko should certainly be commended for his creative social advocacy.