The virtual realm of the Internet is the only space, to date, that is simultaneously accessible across countries and geographical borders. The “3rd Space App” is a digital archive that preserves and initiates online interactions between Iranians and Americans currently residing in their native country. Providing a free global space where political boundaries cannot prevent people from engaging with each other.
In the past 10 years, Internet culture has dramatically improved in Iran. With 60 percent of Iran’s 78 million people being under the age of 30, smartphones and tablets are in demand and have quickly become accessible. Although sites such as Facebook and Twitter are banned from use, Iran has one of the highest rates of fake IP addresses in the world. Social media sites allow Iranian youths to browse other cultures and connect with the rest of the world. The virtual realm of the Internet is the only space, to date, that is simultaneously accessible across countries and geographical borders. More specifically, the Skype application allows for a free global space where political boundaries cannot prevent people from engaging with each other.
With the use of the Internet and Skype, this project has created a platform where conversations and the exploration of a conjoined hybrid or third identity and culture can occur. The process began with a simple online questionnaire that I distributed through social media sites and email. Using data gained from the questionnaire, I paired up people to have one-on-one online discussions, based on age, education, and the gender of the person they prefer to speak with.
In order to encourage this interaction and to facilitate communication, I have developed a set of guidelines. These instructions are a key element in establishing a connection between the two parties. The desired third space can only exist if both individuals agree and are able to correspond.
The first few activities and exercises allow people to physically move around, share experiences and establish common ground, releasing the tension of meeting a stranger for the first time. The next few questions provide some information about the participants’ everyday life and background, generating a starting point for further exchange. The required duration of the Skype meetings are about an hour and half and sometimes they will continue on for two or more hours. The length of the interaction permits for the participants to share the same space, though virtual, the newfound consciousness and relationship to the screen grants the formation of a compound environment. The conversations vary across a wide variety of subjects, including sexual orientation, religion, travel, politics, marriage, family, academics, history, food, hobbies, relationships, personal histories, etc.
<3 Participants <3
In the installation, these interactions are shown on a smart device with the use of an app, where each individual conversation can be fully viewed in separate two-minute segments. The segments are organized chronologically and are represented by distinct thumbnails and titles using a hash tag phrase from the conversation. The viewer/app user can browse through each conversation and choose which segments to watch. The app also contains an About Page explaining the process behind the project and a Call to Participation page that links to the questionnaire allowing for new participants to sign up, facilitating the performance to continue.
Nick & Soodeh
*** I would also like to present this work at the Former Iranian Embassy in Washington DC. The building located at Embassy Row, has been abandoned since 1980 and is in the care of the U.S. Department of State. Currently there is an interest section of the Islamic Republic of Iran located at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington D.C., however, since the hostage crisis, a direct relationship or consulate between Iran and America has never reformed.