Mark Farid, British performance artist, has planned to spend an entire month as another person. Are you wondering if it is possible? Read on and find out. According to the Kickstarter campaign for the project ‘Seeing-I’, if the campaign becomes successful in collecting $235,000, Mark will put on a VR headset through which he shall experience the life of another person for 28 days.
The campaign page says, “For 24 hours a day for 28 days, artist Mark Farid will wear a Virtual Reality Headset through which he will experience life through another person’s eyes and ears – this person will be referred to as ‘the Other’. Mark has had no previous relationship with this person; he is only aware that the Other is a heterosexual male, who is in a relationship. The Other is required to wear a pair of glasses that covertly capture audio and video. This footage will then be watched back by Mark, who will inhabit a space consisting of only a bed, a toilet and shower area. This area, as well as Mark will be on constant display to the audience.”
In a nutshell, whatever this Other will be experiencing in life, Mark will be living as well. The only human contact he is supposed to have is one hour per day with a psychologist who won’t say a word but will only observe and listen to him. There is an anticipated possibility that this project could leave Mark mentally altered for life. He is fully aware of the risk and is still willing to go through with the project.
Why is he doing it? He claims that he wants to find answers on the debate of ‘Nature or Nurture’. The idea is to find out if humans are pre-programmed by our genes or if the environment inspires us to be what we are. He shared, “It’s to see if who we are is an individual identity, or if there is just a cultural identity that kind of takes us on. I’ve grown up in the city my whole life. So everything that I’ve seen – the square gardens that we have, the tree that’s planted in that specific place, the way the wind travels down the road, all of that is artificially created. Every experience that we’re having is synthetic.”
Mark will be allowed to shower, use the toilet, sleep and eat only when the Other is doing it. He will be eating the same food and drink as the Other. He will be allowed to move around freely in the room but won’t have much to do other than observe what the Other is going through. To prepare himself for this project, Mark has been seeing a psychologist for about a year, but a different psychologist will be working with him during the project.
Mark’s closest friend, Hamish, is worried and said, “He’s going to acclimatise to seeing pixels all the time – even if they are HD pixels.” Mark, however, remains confident and says, “This is not an endurance test. If it’s going too far and going too bad, and are going to be detrimental things to my health, or eyesight, or mental health … I’ll be told to take the virtual reality glasses off, and the project ends there. I’m not going to harm my long-term life for this project.”
Learn more about this unusual feat in the video below.