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Showing electronics in public? Be careful!

dcuartiellesSeptember 20th, 2011

Stahl adjusting the body suit

Stahl Stenslie, Norwegian artist, PhD, and professor at the Oslo School of Architecture, has been working with the guys at 1scale1 in making a wearable device for about a year. Prototype’s last version uses an Arduino ADK together with an Android phone. It is a location based sculpture + soundscape. When reaching a certain place, the sound starts playing binarual sounds and an array of motors embedded in the garment, a coat in this case, will give you physical feedback.

The project can be named Sense Memory […] the binaural sounds and haptic patterns were made as a response of the 22/7 terror.

However, while trying out the coat at Oslo’s main square, they got approached by the police:

[They] held us in custody on the spot for half an hour, positioning themselves around and behind us as if we were expected to do something violent towards them. It was all a pretty violent experience for us. […] Interesting they would accuse us for being terrorists and potential suicide bombers. Our prime minister called for a more open society, a society with more democracy and creativity. But the police seem determined to go ahead with their own agenda.

Police stopping Stahl and his partner

Stahl was trying out his piece together with the director of the center curating and commissioning the piece. In the pictures you can see Stahl (2m tall) adjusting the coat on his partner, how the second goes for a walk and the instant when the police comes in and stops them of testing the prototype.

I have not been contacted by the police for an interrogation yet. But they said we had been reported – which again means they somehow want to punish us.

The main newspaper in Norway had announced the event in an article,  the day before. However, that wasn’t enough to convince the police about their non-violent intentions.

Our show was therefore announced publically as well. Not that it matters for the police, but, hey, ask before you shoot…

Stahl closed the call with a statement about the current state of arts and the fear generated by terrorism and violence in any form all around the world:

Concerning the use of new, experimental media: if you want to use your handheld device, use a different design of your clothing like our haptic bodysuit or otherwise behave differently than ‘normal’ people, well, you’re most likely a terrorist. That’s the impression you get.

I seriously hope court will dismiss any charges on Stahl and his partner regarding this matter. 1scale1 worked really hard in trying to put together a meaningful and enjoyable experience for the audience. It is really sad it turns out this way.

Check all the pictures we got from this case clicking here.