1) Get up off of the couch
2) (but bring the remote control with you)
3) Go to the south west corner of 3rd and Arch 
4) Use your remote to activate the park

9 September – 30 November 2006*

Gallery Joe Bird Park
3rd and Arch Streets
Philadelphia, PA

* viewable 24-7
* best experienced at night
* (but no sound after 10:30 PM)

Fig. 1. Installation art enthusiast activating "Remote".










REMOTE is an interactive environmental installation containing a range of sound and visual effects. Installed in an outdoor space, the installation is activated, controlled, and navigated using a common household remote control which may be supplied by the viewer.

The piece takes the form of an intervention in an outdoor space, along a street or in a small park. There’s an “insider” element to the installation since, when not activated, its location may not be immediately apparent to a passerby. Additionally, the viewer needs to know to bring a remote to the location to bring the secret to life.

At the installation site, pressing buttons on any (TV, DVD, VCR, audio, etc…) remote control triggers a myriad of responses ranging from subtle (bird calls or soft sounds emanating from hidden speakers, changes in the ambient lighting) to bombastic (more dramatic sound effects, explosions, strobe lights, or projected images). Each key press generates a unique combination of effects. Viewers may bring any remote control from home to activate the installation.

Central to my work is an interest in the expressive potential of electronic devices and in the potential for user interfaces to generate new modes of interaction. A set of social precedents now exists for interaction with electrical technology. When these precedents are followed but subverted or there is no clear immediate “functional” objective, a viewer’s expectations are challenged and an opportunity for reflection or commentary on the human-technology relationship is created. This project makes use of such ambiguity – juxtaposing the familiar with the unexpected – to encourage people to question their assumptions about technology and reflect upon their interaction with it.

The piece has a strong element of accessibility. People who may be intimidated by interactive work or by technology in general may be engaged because an everyday object is the agent of action. The experience of the installation is reminiscent of a coin-op arcade shooting gallery. Play and experimentation are encouraged as part of the experience. Participants can keep trying different units from their everyday collection because each remote interacts differently with the piece. This highlights the number and variety of remotes we use for everyday tasks, from the mundane to the complex.

Sound samples in this installation have been gathered from a wide range of sources including sound effect libraries, police scanners, popular music, short wave and CB radio, and by using peer-to-peer networks to search the internet for randomly (inadvertently?) shared audio files. The broad range of sources references the instrumental use of sound samples in music as well as common (mundane) technological interactions such as channel surfing or tuning across a radio band.

Finally, the installation presents the man-technology interface ironically. The couch potato is asked to get off of the sofa and experience art first hand, but still holding the ever-present remote. Issues related to the effects of technological mediation and the degree to which technology is an atrophying rather than an empowering force are raised.

Chris Vecchio






Chris Vecchio
Christopher Vecchio
Physical Computing, Engineering consulting services, electronics for artists,
installation art, engineering and fabrication, circuit bending, 8 bit, 8bit, eight bit,
contemporary art, electronic art, new media, kinetic art, installation art, engineering,
earth works, earthworks, environmental installation, environmental installations,
an orchid in the land of technology, Walter Benjamin, environmental art, site specific installation
"a groundbreaking multimedia project" ;-)
"a ground breaking multimedia project" ;-)