One of the advantages of video over audio for mediated communication is the ability to transmit non-verbal information. Physical proximity between people is a language for non-verbal communication that we all employ everyday, although we are barely aware of it. Yet, existing systems for video-mediated communication fail to fully take into account these proxemics aspects of communication.
MirrorSpace [1, 2, 3] aims at creating an original personal video communication system that takes physical proximity into account. Whereas existing systems aim at creating a single shared space corresponding to a particular interpersonal distance, the goal of MirrorSpace is instead to create a continuum of space that will allow a variety of interpersonal relationships to be expressed. Our work focuses on the understanding of how people's interactions can trigger smooth transitions between situations as extreme as general awareness of remote activity where anonymity is preserved to intimate situations where people can look into the eyes of a remote person. By observing behaviors in the real world and conceptualizing distance as a relative variable, we aim at using the existing language of proximity as an interface to the video communication system.
This work has been done in cooperation with Helen Evans and Heiko Hansen as part of the interLiving project. MirrorSpace was first shown in a public setting at Jeune Création, a contemporary art exhibition in Paris (Libération published some nice comments on this installation). It was then shown at Mains d'Oeuvres, "Pas vu, pas pris" and the Centre Pompidou. Some pictures of these installations are available, as well as a video (25 Mb) illustrating the concept and showing images recorded during the first exhibition.