We live in an insatiable society that subdues its members to its technological apparatus, which never sleeps. Transcontinental corporations, the world stock market and increasingly mobile careers may be examples of structures of production, which prominently override the chronobiologies of its human agents, but in reality few escape the subtle pressure of “living life to the fullest” or achieving social success. Where lies the border of this culturally imposed skewing of the human biological rhythm, beyond which the primordial zoe revolts against its bios and begins to devour itself? Which social installations sustain the population on the edge of its circadian tolerance?
The project Solar Displacement is an agora for the deliberation between the acceptance of a culturally suboptimal body and the potential of human agents to emancipate themselves from their biology using alcohol, pharmaceuticals, natural remedies, or phototherapy. A custom application developed for the mobile phone keeps track of the luminosity of the participant’s surroundings and mirrors the light conditions in the rats’ environment. The rats respond to the artificial light by displacing their rhythm of activity as well as with self-medication. The synchronization of the participants with their bioindicators thus allows them to observe their physiological bodies as if they were dissociated, autonomous entities and are simultaneously urged to take responsibility for the well being of the rats’ as well as themselves.
Solar Displacement aims to synchronize the circadian rhythms of each of the participants to pairs of rats living in the gallery. Each pair is housed in a ventilated box with ample water and food available at all times. The route of synchronization is through the luminosity inside the cage, which changes according to the intensity of the light to which the human participant is exposed. This is done by utilizing the smartphone with a custom application as a light sensor, which transmits the luminosity readings to a server from which the lights in boxes are controlled. After several days of coordinated exposure, the circadian rhythms of rats and the human are synchronized and the pair of rats begins to act as an autonomous avatar of biological body of the participant. Because rats are nocturnal animals their activity cycle is shifted for 12 hours in respect to human activity, but the periodicity of sleep and activity cycles is comparable. Depending on the lifestyle of the participant, the rats may begin to exhibit some of the common symptoms of circadian rhythm distress also known as social jet lag. These symptoms are observed by monitoring the rat activity over time using a thermal camera mounted in each cage, as well as measuring their propensity to drink an extract of valerian, which is a remedy for anxiety and sleeping disorders both in rats and humans.
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