Wearing the Upside Down Goggles by Carsten Höller which flip and reverse everything that you see was a wild experience. I have to admit, when I first put them on, it was very disorienting and I was so curious about what was around, I turned around very quickly and nearly ate it right in the middle of the gallery. Did I mention that I was there with some well known interaction designers and hoping to make a good impression? I was. But so be it. I almost bit it wearing the Upside Down Goggles. I only wore them for a few minutes, 2 different times. Once was in the middle of the gallery on the 4th floor near the carousal under the bird mobile / kinetic sculpture. The other was in the infared video wall room. Each time was not very long at all, 3-5 minutes maximum. One of the most interesting aspects of it is that after taking them off, I felt odd for a time period much longer than I had them on for. The best way I can describe how I felt was “fucked up.” It was sort of dizzy, but not in a falling over kind of way. I didn’t feel sick or tired. I wasn’t off balance. The world visually just wasn’t quite making sense. My friends that were with me commented on the same thing. The lasting effects of having worn the device were much longer than the original experience.
I loved this about the goggles. They were interactive. They weren’t fragile. They were wearable. Visitors could check them out for use all throughout the gallery (well, except for the signs saying not use them on the stairs). The look of the objects was minimal but the art was not the object. It was instead the effect that had the user in their relationship to the world around them. They shifted your perception of the world around literally while wearing them but the effects reverberated long after the device was removed. The art was not the object, although the object is definitely a part of the discussion. The art was the experience which included the lasting physical and psychological impact that wearing the goggles has on the user. It’s interactive visual art but it happens inside your head. That’s one aspect about working with sound that has always been very important, especially when dealing with audio experiences that are displayed through the use of headphones. When worn, the sonic experience feels as if it is happening inside your head. It enters your ears but depending on how your brain puts back it back together, it is not an experience that you are merely a part of, it is something that is undeniably happening to you and through you. This lands squarely in the realm of the differently familiar.