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  • The Teleporter Zone:Interactive Media Arts in the Healthcare Context
  • Paul Sermon (bio)

The author discusses the recent development and implementation of The Teleporter Zone, a permanent interactive art installation commissioned by Guy's and St Thomas' Charity for the new Evelina Children's Hospital in London. The article places the production and conception of this installation in the context of the author's research in telematic and telepresent art over the past 15 years, alongside current research reports on the effects and influences of the arts on healthcare. The author also draws upon personal experiences in order to provide practical insights into the objectives and outcomes of this work in the healthcare context.

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Article Frontispiece. The Teleporter Zone, 2005, an interactive art installation located in the outpatient waiting area at the Evelina Children's Hospital, London. (© Paul Sermon. Photo © Paul Tyagi.) Viewed from the first-floor atrium.

The recent release of the Arts Council England publication "Arts in Health: A Review of Medical Literature," by Rosalia L. Staricoff [1], presents a comprehensive evaluation of research into the influence and effects of the arts on healthcare between 1990 and 2004. The review includes 385 references from related medical literature and offers strong evidence of the contribution of the arts and humanities to the enhancement of patient recovery. However, many of these studies concentrate on the influence of sound and music, with the remainder focusing on literature, poetry and two-dimensional visual arts. The review concludes by recommending that new-media art forms be integrated into and evaluated within the healthcare culture [2]. In response to the Arts Council report, this paper presents and discusses the aims and perceived outcomes of my interactive media art installation The Teleporter Zone, created for the Evelina Children's Hospital in London in September 2005.

Installation Description

Commissioned by Guy's and St Thomas' Charity, The Teleporter Zone is the first interactive telematic video installation to have been developed for a U.K. hospital. The Teleporter Zone is situated on the ground floor of the hospital (Fig. 1). It provides patients and their friends and family members with a chance to interact with and experience a telematic art installation that transports their awareness from the confines of the hospital waiting area to a variety of imaginary virtual worlds.

The installation consists of a 6-meter S-shaped wall (see Article Frontispiece) concealing a row of blue seats on each side, with a videoconference connection between them. The video cameras and screens face the seats on each side of the curved wall to capture, combine and present the separate participants in the same telepresent image, as if they were sitting together in the same alcove area.

The two cameras are identically angled and mounted above LCD video screens in matching positions, 2 meters from the blue seats, on both sides of the wall. The live images are output to a system of chroma-key video mixers and a DVD player (see Fig. 2) hidden underneath the central seating area. These two camera images are brought together by extracting the blue areas of the video image and combining them with a third computer-generated background scene provided by the DVD player. The final composited image consists of a computer-generated background, a live camera middle ground and a live foreground image, which is simultaneously output to both LCD video screens.

The 2-meter height of the dividing wall conceals children's actual presence on either side of the installation, making it possible for them to communicate and interact with each other only via the telepresent screen in front of them. The deliberate absence of audio communication encourages the children to explore new modes of telepresent interaction and dialogue within computer-animated background scenes that suggest the content of their communication and relocate the interacting children to entirely new telepresent environments.

Evelina Hospital

The Teleporter Zone is one of five permanent artworks incorporated within the outpatient waiting area of the new hospital.

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Fig. 1.

The Teleporter Zone, 2005. (© Paul Sermon. Photo © Paul Tyagi.) The Evelina Children's Hospital, London.

[End Page 427]



Additional Information

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pp. 426-431
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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