Wars and Rumors of Wars (2015/2016)
14 September - 18 October 2016, Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA), Grand Rapids, Michigan
as part of ArtPrize Eight
Finalist, Juried Prize for Installation Category
Finalist, Juried Grand Prize (20 finalists out of 1,453 in competition)
Interactive audio installation; motion detectors, speakers, Arduino, MacBook Pro
An updated version of Wars and Rumors of Wars (2015).
Wars and Rumors of Wars presents the history of American foreign and security policy over recent decades in an interactive audio installation. As visitors move around the gallery, they trigger motion detectors, unleashing historical audio samples drawn from speeches and debates, congressional hearings, military briefings, and other publicly available sources. The relationship between visitors’ movements and the resulting soundscape is governed by a variety of computer algorithms; control of the installation passes back and forth among these algorithms, producing a shifting, unpredictable environment. At times, visitors may be confronted by a babble of different voices, with a seed of dissent hidden amidst a near-consensus; may be frustrated by a mumbled truth that falls silent as the visitor approaches; or may hear a proclamation echo and loop in on itself. The installation hints at underlying meanings and comprehensible patterns of history, but also frustrates complete understanding. Visitors may interact with the installation in a variety of ways, paralleling the complexities and diversity of citizen engagement in our saturated media age.