“Blushing is the most peculiar and the most human of all expressions.” -Charles Darwin

In Darwin’s exploration of the expressions and emotions of humans and animals, he sought to categorize the emotional underpinnings of the human species as manifest through largely involuntary but visible actions and effects. While identifying the evolutionary link between humans and our non-human ancestors, it became essential to reestablish what makes us human. Today, with communication increasingly mediated, translated, and digitized in the form of texts, tweets, posts and selfies, floating within a layer of computational and automated exchange, involuntary and intimate forms of communication are central yet again to defining our species. Between primate and machine, are we human?

In response to self-attention, shame, shyness or modesty, blushing is caused by the release of adrenaline that dilates the pupils, slows the digestive system, quickens the heart and breathing, and dilates blood vessels, especially those of the face. We blush when something is revealed that was meant to be kept secret, when we are put under public scrutiny, or when we feel flattered, embarrassed or ashamed. Because the blush appears alongside a range of emotional reactions, both positive and negative, it is elusive, difficult to predict, and impossible to fake. The blush therefore acts as an indication of sincerity and of our human condition: we are more trusting and forgiving of someone who has committed a social transgression if accompanied by a blush. Yet although it has been felt by every human, the mechanisms and psycho-physiology of the blush remain largely unknown.

Unspoken is a split screen narrative that interweaves an intimate dialogue with involuntary physiological effects. Each character is represented through thermography, revealing hidden and involuntary narratives that intersect and diverge from their dialogue. The audience is positioned awkwardly between, overhearing and overseeing what’s spoken and unspoken.

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Project information
Location         Galata Greek Primary School, Istanbul, Turkey
Project TeamElizabeth Diller,David Allin,Jordana Maisie,and Jack Solomon