Israeli artist Liat Segal has created a device that uses light to print fading messages onto photosensitive paper. The Confession Machine uses ultraviolet (UV) LEDs that are programmed to switch on and off at certain intervals in order to print people's confessions onto paper coated with a UV sensitive pigment. Then they disappear.
The work, commissioned by Artists' Residence Herzelya, uses photochromatic paint developed by the Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem. In total, 16 UV LEDs are used to flash in sequence, creating dots and dashes that, together, spell out the confessions pulled from social networks on the paper's surface.
Gizmag spoke to Segal, a new media artist who works with electronics, software and mechanics, who explained that the work aims to highlight the over-exposure of personal information in the virtual space and how willingly we now share via the digital medium in comparison to how people used to feel about revealing personal information. She suggests that we find it easier to be open online than we do face-to-face with people, but that our openness is perhaps devalued to some extent by the medium.
"At the same time, the importance people give to such online confessions is small and temporary in its nature," she says. "Someone that sees such a revealing status, may get excited, like, comment, even share and forget it. That is the life cycle of an online confession."
She notes that this ephemerality is also paradoxical, "as all this personal information now stays on a virtual limbo, forever exposed."
Much of Segal's inspiration for her work comes from technology. "When I see some technology that I love, it stays in the back of my mind until it fits some concept I work on. It can be an interesting software idea, some nice electronics solution, beautiful mechanics, or, as in the case of the photochromatic paint, a chemical compound that gives a feeling of magic."
She explains that when she began working on the concept of the Confession Machine, she wanted to show the short lifespan, in terms of attention and interest, of a virtual confession. It was this sense that she associated with the visual effect achieved by the photochromatic paint.
"I wanted to exaggerate the feeling of technology, in order to focus on the alleged dissonance between the online tech space and the extremely personal aspect of confession," Segal explains. "Hence I used the 'low-tech' feeling that LED printing gives, rather than using a high resolution."
The video below shows the printer in action.
Source: Liat Segal