"Interfaces" was a live exchange conceived and organized by Eduardo Kac which took place on December 10, 1990, between a group of artists in Chicago and another group in the Center For Creative Inquiry, at the Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh. This piece dynamically explored the formation and dissolution of identities online. It was experienced projected on a large screen in the auditorium of the The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
"Interfaces" established a visual dialogue between the participants in a way that was purposefully similar to a verbal exchange between two people -- bringing the improvised and spontaneous feed-back loop of a personal conversation to the realm of video. This "visual conversation" explored the characteristic top-to-bottom, vertical rendering of slow-scan TV (SSTV), to produce unexpected faces in real time.
Participants in Chicago were not aware of the exact images that would be transmitted by the Pittsburgh group and vice-versa. This unpredictable situation added an element of surprise to the process. As images overlapped on the screen, parts of a face (from Pittsburgh, for example) were slowly scanned over another face (previously sent by the Chicago group). Successive faces were created in the virtual space of the screen as the performance progressed.
It took approximately eight seconds to form each image on the screen. Participants in one location transmitted an image as soon as they received an image from the other location. While a face was scanned, eyes of a woman, for example, overlapped with nose and mouth of a man. Parts of one face composed dynamically an "in-between face" with parts of another face.
Improvisational and unpredictable, this piece addressed the emergence of a "collective identity" through telematic networks. As the artists involved merged their faces in a continuing visual dialogue, they contributed to the creation of an ever-flowing image of a decentralized self. Without closure, conclusion, or clear-cut end, the piece was interrupted approximately one hour after the first images were exchanged. While exchanging images in real time, this piece explored -- not space as form -- but the time of formation of the image.