2018-11-15by Carol Phillips Hurst

Texting My Dopamine

An Interruption

In figure 1 of the art series, Texting my Dopamine (2018) (above) I have intended to show an individual’s central nervous system overloaded by his busy daily activities in his own life before mobile smart phones were around.

With mobile smart phones, users were able to connect and reconnect with other users creating new experiences without even having to leave the room.  A new world of technology had emerged which spread across limitless boundaries.

Zane Burton wrote that a mobile smart phone works across spacial barriers and captures us in increasingly powerful ways (Burton [SA]:[SP]) and according to Anne Balsamo in her article “I phone, I Learn”( Balsamo 2012:252) the mobile smart phone’s ability to respond to the user’s unique desire has engendered a deep rooted connection between the user and the mobile phone. On this topic Marshall McLuhan describes how ‘electricity’ has created a world in which ‘our central nervous system is technologically extended to the whole of mankind’. (McLuhan 1964). The mobile smart phone could be an extreme extension of these ideas.

The relationship between the user and the mobile smart phone does not just end there. The technology developers and the large   industries supplying these mobile smart phone devices to the user need to be looked at as well. What is causing the user to constantly check for new messages and information and why are they constantly upgrading their mobile smart phones? This behaviour seems to have become habit forming.

Behavioural economist Nir Eyal designed the ‘Hook Model’ which is designed to build products that create habit-forming behaviour via a looping cycle that consists of a trigger, an action, a variable reward and a continued investment ( Eyal 2016:[sp]). This creates a habit which is an impulse to act on behaviour with little or no conscious thought. It is a quick, repetitive action. The user wants to do this repeatedly to fulfil emotional needs. Here the user will use their favourite product to create their experiences. These products are designed to drive social media which is connecting users far and wide on all levels of communication and information seeking. These products and platforms work hand in hand with the mobile smart phone device. Examples of these are Facebook, WhatsApp, Tinder, Snap Chat etcetera. These products are often tied to the developers and the industry supplying the mobile smart phones, with massive financial contracts and gains attached.

Figure 2. Carol Phillips Hurst,

Texting my Dopamine – Fun Times (2018).

Digital print on Perspex, 1000  x 535 mm

The users are rewarded for their efforts by responses to these incoming messages. Here another loop is triggered. This is known as the dopamine loop. Developers of a new product like to make their apps addictive. The developers of the technology do this by using motivators like seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, seeking acceptance and avoiding rejection. All these likable triggers help release dopamine in the brain which creates the desire to seek out and search and in so doing creates instant gratification for a user.

Figure 2 and figure 3 of the series, Texting my Dopamine(2018) is an individual who has learnt the art of ‘excessive texting’ and in so doing has triggered his dopamine on every level creating instant gratification. I have created these two panels using layers not only creating maps of incoming and outgoing messaging   but showing the amount of dopamine running through the brain.

Figure 3. Carol Phillips Hurst.

Texting my Dopamine – Hooked(2018).

Digital print on Perspex,1000 x 535 mm


My Mobile Smart Phone Creates Provocative Characters

Here I created a series of characters using my mobile smart phone to arouse my audience. These images are used in the next series called ‘Interruption-(!)-‘

Figures 4,5,6,7,8. Carol Phillips Hurst,

My Smart Phone Creates Provocative

Characters. (2018).

Panel of 5x  Digital Prints on Perspex ,

800  x 355 mm.


Interruption -(!)- Three screens showing interruption

Figure 9. Carol Phillips Hurst,

Interruption-(!)-1(2018). Digital print on Perspex,

800 x 355 mm

Figures 9,10,11 are screens showing what happens in our lives during an interruption. I am no longer able to access anything that I was doing. I have to regroup before I may move on. How long can this ‘interruption’ last? Two minutes, the whole day…?

Figure 10. Carol Phillips Hurst,

Interruption-(!)-2(2018).

Digital print on Perspex,

800 x 355 m

Figure 11. Carol Phillips Hurst,

Interruption-(!)-3(2018).

Digital print on Perspex,

800 x 355 mm


‘Ping’ and the last supper

Figure 12. Carol Phillips Hurst,

‘Ping and the last supper’ (2018). Digital print on comic book paper,

800 x 355 mm

This is a comic book which I have designed to tell a story, but with each interruption the story never gets told. The comic book repeats the words ‘Once upon a time’, only to begin the story again with each interruption. Mobile smart phones are used at the oddest moments for example at the dinner table and when in the company of others. This type of mobile smart phone use creates constant interruptions.

Figure 13. Carol Phillips Hurst,

‘Ping and the last supper’ (2018).

Digital print on comic book paper,

800 x 355 mm

 

Figure 14. Carol Phillips Hurst,

‘Images for Stacking of Interrrupted Pannels’ (2018).

Digital print on comic book paper,

210 mm x 297 mm


Agitate – A Sound Interruption

My final art piece is a sound installation. This triggers the sound of a smart phone in the space right behind the person who is viewing my art.  Some of the users are already charged with the dopamine loop before entering the gallery, which is a public space. Some galleries ban mobile phone usage in the gallery.

With the sound of the smart phone going off behind the viewer, some viewers might reach for their phones and in so doing they may be interrupting the viewing of my art. Some viewers might be agitated by the interruption.

Conclusion

My exhibition is not a protest against the new, ubiquitous technology of mobile smart phones. It is an attempt to provoke an awareness of the disruptive effects of constant messaging and of response-seeking in users of this technology.


Illustrations

Figure 1. Carol Phillips Hurst, Texting my Dopamine – Overloaded(2018). Digital print on Perspex, 1000 x 967 mm.

Figure 2. Carol Phillips Hurst, Texting my Dopamine – Fun Times (2018). Digital print on Perspex, 1000 x 535 mm.

Figure 3. Carol Phillips Hurst. Texting my Dopamine – Hooked(2018). Digital print on Perspex,1000 x 535 mm.

Figures 4,5,6,7,8. Carol Phillips Hurst, My Smart Phone Creates Provocative Characters. (2018).Panel of 5x Digital Prints on Perspex , 800 x 355 mm.

Figure 9. Carol Phillips Hurst, Interruption-(!)-1(2018). Digital print on Perspex, 800 x 355 mm.

Figure 10. Carol Phillips Hurst, Interruption-(!)-2(2018). Digital print on Perspex, 800 x 355 mm.

Figure 11. Carol Phillips Hurst,Interruption-(!)-3(2018). Digital print on Perspex, 800 x 355 mm.

Figure 12. Carol Phillips Hurst, ‘Ping and the last supper’ (2018). Digital print on comic book paper, 800 x 355 mm.

Figure 13. Carol Phillips Hurst, ‘Ping and the last supper’ (2018). Digital print on comic book paper, 800 x 355 mm.

Figure 14. Carol Phillips Hurst, ‘Images for Stacking of Interrrupted Pannels’ (2018). Digital print on comic book paper, 210 x 297 mm.

Bibliography

Balsamo, A. 2012. I Phone, I Learn, in Moving Data: The iPhone and the Future of Media, edited by Pelle Snickars and Patrick Vonderau. Columbia UP, 251 -264.

Burton, Z. [Sa] Smartphone.The Chicago School of Media.  (Accessed 9 September 2018).

Berride, K.  & Robinson, T.  1998. What is the role of dopamine in reward: hedonic impact, reward learning or incentive salience?   Brain research reviews, 309 -369.

Burke, K. 2018. How many texts do People send every day? (Accessed 14.28 4 Nov 2018)

Burger,M. 2010 Bibliographic style and reference techniques. Pretoria: University of South Africa.

Cambell, L. 2016. Tactics of interruption: Provoking Participation in Performance Art. Loughborough University.

McLuhan, M. 1964. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. McGraw-Hill. New York.

Eyal ,N.2016.The Psychology of building addictive products. (Accessed 2018/11/4)

Remes,O. 2016 .Why are we becoming so narcissistic? Here’s the Science. (Accessed 11 September 2018).

The Concise Oxford Dictionary. 1968. Sv “interrupt”.

Weinschenk, Susan Ph.D.  2012. Brain Wise. Why we’re All Addicted to Texts, Twitter and Google. today.com  ( Accessed 9 September 2018).