Be A Real-Life Avatar for Iranian Citizens in "The Foreigner”-School of Art - Carnegie Mellon University

Be A Real-Life Avatar for Iranian Citizens in "The Foreigner”

Art Professor Jon Rubin and Felipe Castelblanco (MFA '13) have created an exhibition at SPACES gallery in Cleveland, OH, that puts local residents in the shoes of Iranian citizens through simple mobile technology. 

Cleveland residents who participate in the project serve as real-time avatars for Iranian citizens, helping to promote exchange among these very different cultures. Members of the public can witness the unique cultural exchange at various times from now through April 6 at Tower City Center, Cleveland. 

It works this way:  A Cleveland resident wears an earpiece through which an Iranian counterpart directs live instructions on what to do and say during a walk through various public spaces.  The Iranian citizens and Cleveland avatars have been selected from all walks of life – from children to seniors – so it’s possible for a local teenage girl to be the avatar for a 53-year-old Iranian woman or a 9-year-old Iranian girl can speak through a 60-year-old Cleveland man. The goal is to help people here in the United States learn about someone who is living in an entirely different culture, and the experience is happening in real time.  

“The Foreigner presents an uncanny circumstance where the separation between self and other, local and foreign, is collapsed and confused, and the geopolitical distance between the United States and Iran is made personal and local,” Rubin said in describing the exhibition.  

More information:
Project website