Sunday, June 15, 2008
The Telectroscope: No Sleep 'til Brooklyn
Saturday afternoon, at 3PM GMT / 10AM EST, Jeffrey and I had a date to meet and say hi via the Telectroscope. I wrote about the Telectroscope a few weeks ago, as Jeff had read about it in the New York Times and sent me the article as something we should do.
The Telectroscope is a sculptural installation on the South bank of the Thames near the Design Museum in London, and on the riverbank in Brooklyn Heights under the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. It is a fiber optic cable that allows you to see, in real time, the other side of the cable - Brooklyn to London, or vice versa. The sculptural element makes it look like something out of the fanciful era of exploration novels, like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
I waited in line for about 35 minutes, making phone calls to Jeff to find out his ETA. Once he got there, kind people manning the line in London fast-tracked me to the front so I could see the Hefs. It was awesome; we were on the phone with each other, talking, and looking at each other; there was a delay, which was weird, because you could see the other person's lips move after you heard what they said. But the idea was awesome, and it was great to see Brooklyn in its sunny glory (and great to see Jeff in his Hefster hipness!).
What a cool idea, to connect people across an ocean via art – literally and figuratively. To be honest, the experience was like a 3D version of Skype, but by taking people away from a computer screen and into the outdoor environment, it somehow made the experience more human and less virtual by giving it context and place. Which is nothing more than life itself - a series of events given context by place, characters, and time. The Telectroscope enabled encounters between Londoners and New Yorkers in a very memorable way.