As a former Army wife, I was often asked a number of questions: what does it feel like to have a loved one involved in a war? What does it do to the relationship before, during, and after combat? How does the situation influence the way military spouses perceive their own lives? I always find these questions very difficult to answer, except to say that the experience can be felt throughout the body, and it echoes in your heart.
The Design Question: How might I portray the complex experience of being a soldier's spouse during wartime in an immersive, visceral way?
the un/quantified army wife is a multisensorial installation that uses haptic sensations and bone conduction in order that the participant experiences the story physically as well as aurally. The audio is a narrative about a spouse's daily life during wartime, and a glossary is included for those who may not be familiar with some of the terms.
Haptic sensations from handmade speakers and bone conduction transducers cause the participant feel audio in their own body as soon as they sit down in the chair. An elbow is placed in either of the copper bowls, and the participant cups a hand over their ear to hear the audio more clearly. The larger transducers transmit the audio through the participant's chest cavity, essentially turning the body into a speaker. The sensation lasts a few minutes after the participant has left the chair.