1. Introduction
  2. Methods
  3. Discussion
  4. Evaluation

Hybrid Media, Media Design, GUC, p. 1-5 (2011)

                                                     The Experiment of Deja-vu

                                                                   Yasmin M. Kandil
                                                                      Engy M. Allam 
                                                                      Salma A. Baki
The definition of Deja-vu is very well established in different studies, and different theories. Deja-vu is a phenomena that occurs to all people at anytime. In this project a fake interview will be held between a german young man and an egyptian girl that is pretending to be an old lady having dejaa-vus during the interview without the german man knowing. Obstacles occurred and the concept was developed after more research, and at the end we have a movie with a normal conversation on a public bus between a german man and an egyptian girl that is visiting her friend in germany. I this performance the german is having the deja-vu by seeing the same girl and having the same conversation with her several times until he panics and leaves. Having plans and timelines help any concept or idea to develop thoroughly and properly; and that is what this research and project is based on.


Deja-vu. Skype. Public transportation.


Déjà vu is the experience of feeling sure that one has already witnessed or experienced a current situation, even though the exact circumstances of the previous encounter are uncertain and were perhaps imagined. The experience of déjà vu is usually accompanied by a compelling sense of familiarity, and also a sense of "eeriness," "strangeness," "weirdness," or what Sigmund Freud calls "the uncanny."

We all have some experience of a feeling which comes over us occasionally, of what we are saying and doing having been said and done before, in a remote time – of our having been surrounded, dim ages ago, by the same faces, objects and circumstances – our knowing perfectly what will be said next, as if we suddenly remembered it (cited in Sno Linszen and de Jonge 1992: 512) Psychologists Sno and Linszen (1990) suggest that déjà vu is associated with certain types of psychopathology or organic factors such as intoxication. As well as being associated with age, it is possible that stress, fatigue, illness or trauma may predispose an individual – though not necessarily

Our concept is about time manipulation and the role of deja-vu in time. Always having deja-vus yet have no explanation for it. Always wondering why or what really happens. Scientifically Deja-vu is just a small brain malfunction. The brain cranks out memories near its center. But a new study suggests only a small chunk of it, called the dentate gyrus, is responsible for “episodic” memories—information that allows us to tell similar places and situations apart. However, in psychology it has many different theories behind it. Actually anyone can have his own explanation for it because deja-vu doesn't have a specific or fixed one. No single theory of déjà vu is dominant. We wanted to try out deja-vu to see how it could work out. To achieve that we decided to make one of us an old lady. Because we wanted to change identities and time realization. Then we tricked our german partners into making them believe that they're just going to interview an old famous actress called "Shadia". So then the old lady would start having deja-vus and act like she's lost in time, but because the german guy doesn't know he would act completely normal and spontaneous. We would see after that what could be possible reactions to something like a deja-vu.

After getting deeper into the research of deja-vu we found out that we have to change the idea of the performance a little bit so it would be more realistic and be more believable to the viewer. As it will also fit with the concept of deja-vu better. At first we did one of the participants an old lady. It was thought that being old will immediately be connected with the concept of deja-vu and that an old lady is loosing her sense of time while appearing to be having deja-vu and not realizing it, and by that also we would be changing identities and showing fake ones in order to be more into the idea of time manipulation and time realization. However, we found that there is a consensus (Chapman and Mensh, 1950;Kohr, 1980;Sno and Linszen, 1990) that the phenomena are frequently observed in young rather than in elderly persons. Thus, aging of the brain could be an important factor in elucidating déjà vu experiences. According to that we took the decision of changing the old lady to be just a normal 20 year-old young woman. By that the performance would have a more realistic sense. The purpose of this project is to examine the deja-vu experience and its effects on people. Moreover, it is to see if different cultures and background could affect a phenomena like deja-vu.

Concept Development

At first we developed the concept of schizophrenia. After our german counterparts chose us as their partners from the facebook group we started discussing the concept. They were not fond of our concept and created another one. However, after long discussions between us on skype calls we came to the decision of doing two projects; two performances. When they proposed their concept at first we tried to integrate our concept with theirs but it couldn’t work. At the end we came up with the concept of Deja-vu, however our concept had some aspects that were inspired from theirs when trying to integrate both.

While developing our concept we tried to figure out ways in realizing something like deja-vu in film language so the viewer at the end would recognize what is happening in the final movie. We went to a film specialist and sat with him to gain some knowledge about that. Ten at the end we decided the best way to get perfect results is inventing an interview on a skype conversation where there will be a host and a guest. The host would be the german counterpart, while the guest would be one of us. The trick or the plot of this performance was that we invent this interview by having our participant pretending to be an old famous actress, while the germans don’t know that we are faking an old lady and also don’t know that the old lady will be having deja-vus during the interview. We asked them to prepare some questions. Once the interview was done we wanted to start developing our final movie. However, problems occurred. So the whole performance had to be repeated.

Further research was done and according to that we altered our realization or visualization process of the concept a little bit. Then, we created the random bus meeting and conversation.


To test this concept or idea we want to know or achieve several things. First, that there would be a different reaction to the deja-vu conversation than to a normal conversation. Second, to see if the abnormal conversation would succeed in irritating the man. At last but not least, the man would know how to deal with the deja-vu.

METHODS (Realization)

Experiment l


This performance included two participants. A 23 year-old young man living in germany and goes to the university of furtwangen, and the other participant was the main character which was a 20 year-old young woman that is from egypt and goes to the german university in cairo. We brought a specific german counterpart to help us realize our concept in this first trial of the performance. The german student was not aware of the girl’s cover. He only thought he was doing a normal interview with an old lady.


Our keyword concept (déjà vu) was edited and played with some several times. Until reaching the idea of our first experiment that was an interview that we set up with our fake old retired actress and singer and with the German group. Saying that this is only a meeting to interview her about her career, her journeys around the world, and trips to Europe. The concept that we had told them at first is that the interview is to complete their project about cross-culture differences. In performing our first experiment, during the interview déjà vu appears to the old lady, she gets glimpses of déjà vu while talking to the interviewer on Skype and from that she thinks she had seen him before long ago and tries to convince him with that matter. As old ladies also lose the sense of time somehow, the interviewer calmly understands and explains to her that they have never met.

Salma practiced as an old lady in a mall to know how to deal with people and how to act as an old lady among them. Also we started to talk with old people to know how do they talk with other people with English which is a foreign language they don’t used very often. So we gathered ideas how old people act and deal with others while dealing with people they don’t know. We wanted to have a fake normal salma to convince them that she is salma’s grand daughter (the old lady). So salma’s sister volunteered to act as if she is salma. And we cared that the old lady starts to talk and interact with the fake salma. Also the fake salma was acting all the time as if we are helping her grand mother in translating what the germans are saying. After the interview we asked the germans about there experience and they were not sure if she was an old lady and that she was having a déjà-vu or not. The participant from the german side started to convince the old lady that he is not the man in the picture that the old lady showed trying to convince him; as she was convinced that she has so him before. The boy on the german side tried to convince her that he is the wrong guy, he took out his ID to show her and convince her and pointed out at his birthday to do that.


Final Movie

Experiment ll


This performance also included two participants, Salma the egyptian girl, as herself, an Egyptian young lady but traveling to Germany to visit her friend and randomly meets Gregory on the bus, the German young man who goes to the same university that Salma’s friend goes to. And this is what the conversation goes around.


After researching more about déjà-vu, we decided to change the idea of making the young woman an old lady and just let her be herself; let her be a 20 year-old young girl. And instead of performing the video in the form of an interview between both sides, we set up a random meeting where the girl gets on the bus and meets Gregory. As they are sitting they start talking about their destinations and she shows him photographs of her friends from Egypt. She leaves the bus and he goes to sleep, but when he wakes up he finds the last scene of him meeting the girl is repeated. The man responds calmly at first thinking it is just a dream. And the girl shows him some photographs from Egypt again. The conversation ends and starts over again as soon as he opens his eye from his short nap. It is repeated a several times and he panics more each time. The fourth time he sees it happening he panics and leaves the bus. The idea of repeating the same scene continuously is delivering the idea of déjà vu but in a different – exaggerated - way.

Final Movie

DISCUSSION (Observation)

Through the entire duration of our project we learnt a lot of things. The most important thing that got us confused is when we had to change our project concept a couple of times we had a feeling of losing track and concentration on the main project “idea”, until we reached our final idea and accomplished it. Ideas changed a thousand times, and that lead to having more chances of gathering even more information about our concept to slightly change it and develop it. That was not the only problem as we faced so many technical ones. The project was repeated about five times. That made it necessary to always have a plan B. In fact we faked a video performance after we had done it live using skype due to technical problems we replaced a video with one side of a skype video-call. We also faced communication problems with the German students as we were setting meetings with them to perform and discuss.


Experiment l

Our first experiment, the concept was to express déjà vu in an interview between an old retired actress (performed by a student) and the German group. We practiced the old lady makeup and costume in a public place to get used to the character and create a good performance. We went through some makeup problems to be believed enough.

They did not know what the concept was, or that the old lady was a student, but during the Skype conversation they doubted her age a little, but yet did not figure out the concept. The interviewer asked her random questions about herself, her acting and singing career, and her trips around the world and what she thought about them. During the interview the old lady thinks that she had discovered she had known the interviewer back then about 25 years ago, and that he was a friend of her sons. She keeps insisting on proving that to him by showing him very old photographs of him standing with her two sons. He shows her his ID to prove that he is not who she thinks, she gets mad and leaves the conversation. We went through some technical problems, and at last we went through concept problems.

Experiment ll

After our cover was revealed, and the old lady was discovered not to be one, we faced technical problems and it was impossible to perform it again the same way as before so we changed the character that experiences déjà vu. The German student faces déjà vu a several times on a bus when meeting the old lady. We kept her in the picture to make it seem freakier to the German student. The performance was a success, but technical problems were faced again. And the performance had to be repeated again.

After some questions and researches about the psychological déjà vu process, we decided no old person has to be involved, since after all any age experiences it, however different studies show that it is more frequent with younger ages. We performed it with a regular German student and with a normal Egyptian girl in their early twenties. As mentioned earlier, the girl gets on the bus, sits besides the German man and starts having a normal conversation with him. After repeating the conversation several times the man starts panicking wondering, and gets irritated by what’s he is experiencing which is deja-vu and at the end he leaves the bus.


Skype and Deja-vu

We found the déjà-vu can be implemented through skype. While using skype during a video call, we may face the phenomenon of "Deja Vu". As during the call sometimes we see the picture changing very fast after a long stop;  disproportionate with the sound and though, while looking at the picture we might see it repeating it self in front of our eyes, but not recognizing its repeating, as the fast changing infront of the camera wouldn’t be unrecognizable by our optical nerve and so the "Deja Vu" occur.

Skype and Public Transportations

It was decided that we relate the public transportation with Skype because we found it is somehow similar - talking randomly to the passenger beside you in a public transportation - to the online chatting - randomly clicking a contact and starting a conversation. As an example, SkypeMe, an option given by Skype that you can call any contact online that you don’t know and chat with them but only for one time as long as you don’t have them as a friend or their name listed on your friends’ list. Also this is the same as Chatroulette where you are connected to people who are online randomly with out knowing them at all and start to talk with them for once in your life without the necessity of a long friendship, not even online.



Monty Python-Deja vu

This project is about experiencing deja-vu and what could happen when someone experience deja-vu. Monty Python in this shows how he experience deja-vu and what his reactions to it. It is very relevant and similar to this project. As he works as a host in a television show about the mind where he talks specifically in this new episode about deja-vu. He begins the episode normally by some words of introduction and then suddenly he repeats himself. He realizes that and then starts over, then the program starts over and he repeats himself all over again. This is repeated several times until he goes out of his mind and leave the studio but he is still having deja-vu. In this project the egyptian girl starts a normal conversation with the german man and then leaves. She comes back again and have the same conversation all over again. The man realizes that but he goes along with it. After few times the man senses something is wrong, lose his temper and leave the bus. That is how relevant the project is to the Monty Python video.

Deja-vu movie

The movie Deja-vu couldn't be anymore relevant to this project and an inspiration to it. Denzel washington the main character works as a police officer that travels throught time to complete a mission and during the process he loses the sense of time and starts having deja-vus.






Adachi M., Adachi T., Kimura M., Akanuma N., Takekawa Y., and Kato M. "Demographic and Psychological Features of Deja Vu Experiences in a Nonclinical Japanese Population." Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease 191.4 (2003): 242-47.

Howes, David, Brian L. Keeley, and Mike Mowbray. "DEJA VU « The Sixth Sense Abcderium." The Sixth Sense Abcderium. Web. http://sixthsensereader.org/about-the-book/abcderium-index/deja-vu/.