me wearing the device a profile view of me wearing the device

The device shown above, which I titled "What I See is What You Get," was my project for 4.370 (Interrogative Design Workshop). The premise of the class was to construct a tool to enable "fearless speech," from the Greek "parhesia", as described by Michel Foucault. My device is meant to be used during a verbal conflict with a person (or persons) who have power over the user (the speaking-truth-to-power aspect of parhesia). The concept behind the device is that it would disrupt the thoughts of the more powerful person, in order to both distract and re-humanize them, forcing them to empathize with the less powerful person, by literally causing them to view themselves through someone else's eyes.

The apparatus itself consists of three modules, as seen below. The top module is a pair of goggles, with an attached wireless video camera, powered by a 9V battery, also attached to the goggles. Since I am right-eye dominant, I painted a viewfinder on the right lens of the goggles, so that I would know what was being displayed on the screen; I left the left side clear, so that I would at least have some peripheral vision. Below the goggles is the screen module, which is worn on the chest, like a baby carrier. The screen is 5" diagonal TV monitor, mounted in the gaudiest frame I could find, to add to the distraction. Mounted on the back of the screen and invisible to the audience is a receiver that picks up the signal from the camera. Since the camera is wireless, another receiver could be connected to another screen or to a recording device, without requiring any hardware changes. Finally, the screen and receiver are both powered by a 12V lead acid battery, contained in the battery pack, which is attached to a belt so it's wearable.

In using the device, I found that the affect on the audience was perhaps stronger than I hoped. When thinking about concept of the device, I had always had trouble trying to rationalize offensive aspects of the device: it was much more of a shield against attacks than a weapon to be used in an argument. When speaking to people using the device, especially to individuals, they become distracted by their image on the screen, and can even feel imposed upon or trivialized due to the garishness of the frame surrounding the screen and the oddness of the device. What I wasn't prepared for, though, was the sense of power it gave to me while wearing it: since the screen attracted so much attention, and I had control of the screen, I effectively had control of the viewer's perception of themselves and their surroundings. This feeling of power actually made me feel insulated from the audience, to the point where I was distracted myself, just by observing the power I wielded by strapping some electronics to myself. In fact, the original title for the project was "What You See is What I've Got," but the affect it had on me caused me to change the title to focus more on the wearer of the device, rather than the viewer.

the specific components of the system
a closeup on the goggles a closeup on the screen