Seventy-seven per cent of people in the UK think the world has become more frightening in the last ten years. Epidemics, crises, plagues, terror, syndromes, traumas: our cultural environment fuels fear and alters the way we experience and manage it at a societal level. This ‘culture of fear’ furthers feelings of vulnerability, mistrust and isolation, it substantially alters the ways in which we relate to one another. Now, how do we sensibly balance our need for intimacy with our need to protect against emotional harm? To what extent are new communications technologies changing our notions of privacy in a fragmented and distrusting society?

The ‘Display of Affection’ is a technological device that lets you virtually caress neighbours or strangers in the street from the safety of your home.

How far are we prepared to distance ourselves from the world through technologically mediated interactions to feel safe?

Photographs: James Gilpin
Video: Ilona Gaynor
Thanks to: Jonas Loh, Veronica Ranner

The Awl, Viewpoint magazine, Designboom, Gizmodo (US, Japan), Novo Argumente


70x zoom camera, display, flocked MDF, Max/MSP software


↑ Follow loved ones and satisfy cravings for touching them without the risk of being rejected, disappointed or otherwise emotionally hurt

↑ Still image from live video feed with imposed caressing hand
Display of Affection with its 70x zoom camera and a display that imposes images of stroking hands onto the live feed

"I keep fantasising about actually going over there and simply knocking on her door. But then again, what would I have to say when it was opened?"