Bioactive installation, Achatina fulica snails, Augmented Reality technologies
Tribute to Walter Benjamin

This project investigates the transformative capacity of temporal rhythms offered by the non-living physical environment. The basic law of inert matter consists of reacting immediately to being affected, the reaction taking up the same rhythm and continuing through the same duration. With regard to living beings, it would be fair to say that the independence of their effect on surrounding matter is strengthened to the extent that they break free from the rhythms immanent to non-living matter.

That Which Lives In Me is an installation that uses Augmented Reality technologies to enable dynamic rearrangement of real and virtual spaces. Drawing on the metaphor of a snail’s “shell house”, we have “augmented” real shells of Achatina fulica giant African snails with a certain analogue of “electronic aura”— an interactive layer of digital visual information. This information is output to the screen in real time, its appearance determined by behaviour of the snails: the dynamics of their movements inside the terrarium and the intensity of their inter-communication.

To create an alienating effect, we made use of the snails’ active nocturnal habits and arranged an additional transmission of the “electronic auras” with a 9-hour phase delay, thus separating the “auras” from the “real bodies” for a considerable period of time. In this particular visual experiment, we not only demonstrate the abilities of Augmented Reality to superimpose the real and the virtual in real time, but also to outline the boundaries of applicability for these technologies, liberating spectator perception from the mechanical rhythm of interactivity imposed by the life that surrounds us.

Concept, realization: Dmitry Bulatov, Alexey Chebykin. Programming: Konstantin Semenov. Electromechanics: Nikifor Martishevsky. Termenvoxes: Danil Akimov. Video documentary film: Oleg Blyablyas, Dmitry Bulatov, Alexey Chebykin, Viktor Gurov. Production: The National Centre for Contemporary Arts, Kaliningrad branch, Russia. Funded by the Dynasty Foundation for Non-commercial Programs (Moscow, Russia). Date: Ongoing since 2011. Status: Available for touring. Photo by Asja Ablogina. Web-site: Sergey Sorokin.

© 2011, NCCA, Kaliningrad
The National Centre for contemporary arts gratefully acknowledges the generous support
of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, Ford Foundation (The Moscow Office),
and The Dynasty Foundation (Moscow) in funding this project.
Web-site by Sergey Sorokin.