The { } And - Skin Deep

The { } And – Skin Deep

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The And documentary is part of a series of works by collective The Skin Deep, headed under director Topaz Adizes as part of an effort to help examine and reframe the human condition in a post-digital age. The digital’s effect on how we relate to the world and amongst one another were dramatic, sudden, and through a series of works that asks probing questions regarding very human topics such as, in the case of this particular interactive documentary, love and relationships, clarity on the current human condition can come into light.

The documentary draws from a large database of clips hewed from a series of interviews with 30 couples who play a game of question-and-answer with one another. The rules are greatly probing and force examination of multiple facets of the relationship. What facets a viewer of the site may witness, however, is biased and specifically tailored to show content that holds relationship facets may be most pertinent to that particular viewer. Based on the viewer’s answers to 4 questions the site will generate a roughly 1.5 minute series of clips it believes will be most relevant to that viewer. The small questionnaire is fairly simple and easy to go through. An indicator at the bottom makes it clear to the viewer how many questions are left, which plays a role in making this intro quiz a light distraction rather than a potentially arduous affair.qq

There is a part of me that wishes the quiz was a bit longer, as the quantity did not seem ample enough to truly ascertain the relationship facets that would most interest me. I also found myself a bit put off by the aesthetic of this introductory portion. The white cards look like hastily copy-pasted white rectangles in paint, and the wood background could have been given at least a vignette to give it more depth. The lack of focus placed on this portion cannot help but slightly undermine my trust in the site’s purported facet-matching claims.

The clips themselves are high quality and utilize a particular visual schema in all the clips, with the members of the pair usually occupying a portion of the screen on opposite sides. The sparse background and coloring forces focus onto the subjects themselves and also enforces the notion of an honest, open conversation between the two. The couples are from a greatly diverse array of backgrounds, and cover couples of numerous sexualities, generations, racial profiles, etc. More interestingly the relationships are in various forms of stability, with some couples clearly being long-established and comfortable with one another and others more markedly strained.theand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post video viewers have an option to then scroll through a gallery of video clips. The gallery holds clips that are either amalgrams of all couples’ answers to a particular question or focus on a single couple. Though I am not completely sure the order of the clips displayed seems to also be affected by the viewer’s answers near the beginning of the site.

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Viewers also have the option to play through the question and answer challenge the thirty filmed couples themselves underwent. To play, members of a pair sit a foot apart from one another and gaze at the other for approximately 30 seconds, to set a more serious, open tone for the session. Players then take turns running through the questions provided by the site or drawing from a deck that can be bought directly from the site. The receiving partner of the question must answer honestly. If they find that they do not wish to answer a particular question, they must hold the other partner’s gaze for 10 seconds then reply ‘pass.’ The website provides 12 randomly pulled questions for the participants to answer.

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Overall the site is able to encapsulate the many nuanced and fascinating facets of human romantic relationships. Its video is well edited and shot in a manner that places emphasis upon the couples and presented in a manner that feels raw and honest. Though the visual design of the more interactive portions of the site (the intro quiz and the subsequent digital variant of the question and answer game) is a bit wanting, and could utilize more feedback to enhance the feel of the site, their placement are clever and ultimately effective means of making the content of the site more viewer-oriented and more personal. In particular the offering of the questions themselves helps instill a sense that the site is concerned with the more universal human condition, and fosters a sense of connection with a diverse people who are all unified in some capacity by the relevance of these questions amongst those who pursue an intimate connection with another.

References:

http://www.theskindeep.com/

https://medium.com/@TheSkinDeep/the-shifting-spectrum-of-human-connection-ad1afc93e11#.60w8gffun

http://www.bustle.com/articles/31948-the-and-interactive-documentary-shows-what-happens-when-couples-are-completely-honest-with-each-other

http://theand.us/