Drawn Together by Mutsugoto

Feature by Mark Daniels | 24 Jun 2009
  • Mutsugoto - heart

Sixty points for a ‘SPANK’? Bring it on. I play a word game app with a certain, rather clever person that I care about. So I’m loosing 2:1, that’s not the point. It helps to maintain a connection to a special someone who’s more than a simple commuting distance away. We were never a couple, but as notions of how to maintain a long distance relationship have become part of my working life, it’s got me thinking.

We support the work of Distance Lab, a creative research team focused on the theme of distance. Together we’ve set up an experiment called Mutsugoto, which loosely translates as ‘pillow talk’. Somewhere in Scotland we’ve constructed a bedroom. Behind veils of red silk organza lies a prototype communication device that enables two lovers to express the feeling of touch over distance through lines of light they draw on to their bodies.

We are about to start trials of the system: the best Etch A Sketch you could possibly imagine, and then some. Think Ewan McGregor in the Pillow Book, but no ink required. Projections onto the body and bed gently bubble to indicate presence, and when the two lines cross, the colour slowly changes from white to red. Start drawing your selves together.

Couples are being sought. We’ll bring a Mutsugoto system to the home of your partner, whilst we invite you to join us at the base station.

Now if you were wondering why I’m being a secret squirrel about where the base station is, there is a reason. It’s our tenth birthday, so we decided to play a game, a game of love, war and telepathy. We’ve invited a choreographer to create a playful but longing networked dance piece using Mutsugoto. It will be performed live in two locations in Scotland at 8pm on the 2 July. One bedroom is at the CCA in Glasgow, but the game is to also locate and enter the base station bedroom before 9pm, as there are custom iPods to be won.

Love is not a game, and long distance relationships take some work even in this age of multimodal communication systems. But that’s the rub: these systems change our perceptions of space and proximity. We feel closer for sharing an experience, however abstract it may be. Be realistic, stay connected and keep things interesting is my advice. [Mark Daniels is Director of New Media Scotland]

Alt-win.ning, 2 July, 8pm, £5

CCA, 350 Sauchiehall Street Glasgow G2 3JD

T: 0141 352 4900