Eduardo Kac, in “Telepresence Art,” provides a lot of commentary about the relationship between media (defined as television, telephones, or any system that transmits information) and media consumers. There is no relationship, really, beyond transmitting and receiving. Even in a tangible space, the receiver is static and sponge-like; they passively take in images and sounds that are signaled to them. Real life becomes news becomes entertainment, and there is no real interaction between sender and receiver.
Kac quotes Paul Virillio, who makes this striking observation: “In order to see, we will no longer be satisfied in dissipating the night, the exterior darkness. We will also dissipate time lapses and distances, the exterior itself.”
This idea of telepresence introduces a new definition of sight. Seeing is beyond light and electricity and the eye and anatomy, beyond walls and physical obstructions and screens. The participant sees, not receives. Telepresence also revives the receiver. The new participant looks into another world, however far away, and has a conversation with the space before them. Even while remote, they have will and power; they can turn their heads towards the sights they want to see, tune into the sounds that intrigue them, press the keys to navigate where they want to go.