Is it possible that our digital mobile devices have created a new form of claustrophobia? Do these devices induce a sense that we cannot escape our screens, producing feelings of anxiety, fear, terror and other emotions and states of mind in the process?
This notion of “digital claustrophobia” gets explored in multimedia artist Alec Maassen’s PHOBIA, a projection-mapped installation that sits in a 4′ x 4′ x 8′ room with walls of hanging, rear-projected PVC screen.
“One at a time, a viewer steps inside the structure to experience an audiovisual environment with custom sound and visuals,” Maassen explains. “Rear projection screen allows for a viewer to see projected content on either side with no loss of quality. The visuals projected onto each wall are meant to induce emotions of excitement, discomfort, anxiety, and even paranoia—feelings which traditionally come from people with claustrophobia.”
Initially, the luminous white graphics appear intermittently along with sparkling electronic sounds—nothing alarming. In fact, it’s rather beautiful. But Maassen builds the animated sequences in intensity until the senses overload like a bad psychedelic trip from which there is no escape.
Maasen created PHOBIA as part of senior project course at UCLA’s Design Media Arts program. Click here to see more of his work.