The abusive relationship we can have with screens and its effect on our breathing, how it will likely get worse heading toward a digital future.
Research about the phenomenon called screen apnea shows that 80% of people who are in focus behind a screen breathe shallowly to periods of holding their breath, which remains the body in a cyclical state of stress. Not a bad thing, since stress and fight flight modus is essential for achieving optimal performance. But not if it’s triggered by everyday stresses. Currently people are working more overtime, experience performance pressure due to staff cutbacks or sick leave, among others due to the current burnout wave. There’s an increasing demand for focus with no room for stress. Thereby, how realistic is it that experts recommend to step away from your screen?
Seeking synchronicity with the laptop through parallels with our human relationships, we become more conscious of our body behind a screen, and aware of a future where we are being choked (metaphorically)
Human relationships affect our breathing, this project explores interpersonal intimacy, whether similar connections can be created between the laptop and its user. Mirroring the user’s breathing rhythm while being in focus, to unconsciously promote body awareness. Also a form of synchronicity, as we tend to synchronize our breathing when you lie in bed next to your partner. A step towards staying consciously embodied – the practice of being more aware of your body, in relation to our device. Highlighting techno-animism, how technology is imbued with human characteristics.
Through the unconscious behavior of the user being in focus behind a laptop, sensors measure the index fingers and have the laptop fan mirror screen apnea, and breathe together in sync.
When being in deep focus, we unconsciously tend to rest our index fingers automatically on the F and the J keys – as we learned during the first lesson of typing class. Speculating of a probable future that personal high-sensitive pulse sensors and the right algorithm can recognize how your body changes while screen apnea occurs. Inspired on tools like the Moonbird, a physicial breathing coach that works through an optical sensor placed on the thumb, can calculate and determine your personal breathing rate. In this installation, the fan goes on when you hold your fingers on the keys. The laptop fan mirror the rhythm of screen apnea. Without getting distracted by giving an option, the fan subtly transition in a breathing exercise, that reinforce focus.
The title first came from the question by placing the insight into a future speculation. If we move to a digital future with only screens around us and the addiction to screen time only increases, am I actually (metaphorically) asking screens to choke me? That excessive technology use has negative effects on our health and well-being is not unknown. Maybe even with a slightly irritated tone you could think “yes we know that by now.” Because why do you want to hear this, if you don’t want to be without it or that many everyday things you can’t even do without it, that’s how I think myself. But still this question about development in a future kept stuck in my mind. Therefore, a provocative title to get people thinking about a subject they think they have heard enough about. A title that creates a prejudice, can evoke an emotion, but above all challenges to see how many underlying similarities are between this subject, this project and probably the visitor too.
The phrase “Choke me” In some contexts, “choke me” may be used with consent in an intimate context. In other contexts, “choke me” may be used metaphorically to express a sense of being overwhelmed or suffocated by a situation or emotion, such as stress, anxiety, or frustration. For example, someone might say “I’m so stressed, it feels like the work is choking me” or “The fear of failure is choking me, I can’t think straight.”