A project by Hayes Raffle, David Merrill, Josh Lifton, and Jeff Lieberman
"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger."
-Nazi Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering, at the Nuremburg Trials
Applause is an interactive group video installation that addresses issues of politics and control in our daily lives. Visitors walk into a mini movie theater and approach three microphones facing three vertically stretched freeze-frame videos. Small signs instruct the visitors to applaud to begin the show. Claps into the microphones progress the corresponding movies, and archival film footage plays. Boys throw each other in the air, run around a campground and laugh together. Groups of children gather in anticipation of an exciting event.
At once, the film footage rolls on its own, cuts to full frame, and the boys turn to look at a smiling Hitler. The footage is from Leni Riefenstahl's classis documentary "Triumph of the Will," and the video progresses to military marches and an emphatic speech by Hitler espousing the Nazi cause. The video fades to black and concludes with several written quotes, including the above statement. We have tricked people into applauding - and facilitating the portrayal of - something they probably don't support. The installation is intended to make people reflect on our lack of control over our political leaders' decisions and to think about how trickery can be used to a designer's advantage. In both action and inaction (as they audience may only be observers), we may be considered to be complicit in group decisions. Sponsored in part by the MIT Office of the Arts.
Shown at Collision 7, Art Interactive Studio, Cambridge, MA, 03/2005
Boston Cyberarts 2005 Festival, Stata Center, Cambridge, MA, 04/2005
PRESSArts Media Magazine, May/June 2005