The idea behind “Touch Me”—an installation by D.C. artist Emily Biondo and San Francisco software engineer Bradford Barr—is compelling.
The installation toys with the intersection of art, technology and interpersonal interactions, much like some of Biondo’s prior works, like an Arlington Arts Center piece that used crocheted speaker wire to give visitors a new version of the childhood game of “telephone.”
The Flashpoint installation, which takes up most of the available gallery space, is described as “an interactive light environment that is generated by the physical interactions of two people.” The walls are covered with plastic surfaces that suggest intertwined umbrellas, with white and blue lights flashing on and off beneath their transparent forms.
Wired gloves dangle from the ceiling, and when two people don gloves and touch, “the installation [begins] to glow, change and flash, immersing viewers in a lit geometric space built by their own touch.”
Sounds great. Except when I did it (um, yeah, by touching myself, which was the only option when I visited) it was hard to tell the difference between the sensory fireworks I triggered and the baseline level of flashing.
Maybe the effect would have been more impressive if the gallery had been buzzing with social activity. As it was, though, the installation offered a different, and worthwhile, lesson about our relationship with contemporary technology: Sometimes you don’t know if the problem is the fault of the technology, or you.
Through May 6 at Flashpoint Gallery, 916 G Street NW, Tue-Sat 12-6