Interactive National Heritage
How Stage 2(b) Interactive National Heritage will be seen in practice
During primary research of National Heritage's subject areas, Mongrel uncovered a common theme in the process of racialisation. Repeatedly disempowerment is encouraged through the removal of control over self-image, largely through economic means. Depictions of marginal and minority groups, Mongrel found, are not owned socially by a group's members. Instead such depictions are owned and controlled by the social class which can afford to reproduce and circulate its version of the group's image. In order to make this economic model explicit, Mongrel will reproduce its version of the process as an entrance fee to the installation.
A user will be confronted by an electronic gate (see left) that demands a portrait image, recorded by a video camera, in exchange for entry to the installation area. In agreeing, the user hands over control of their self-image (and contractually commits to their skin being used in the game scenario of Stage 3).
Inside the installation, the user's skin will then be displayed on a monitor and analysed to distinguish which of the eight anonymous racial types made in Stage 1 he or she most matches. This, in turn, will determine how the user's experience of the work is structured.
Projected simultaneously, the user will see two animated images of heads. Just below them (not shown in the picture below) will be a pool of information collected from the Website of Stage 2(a). The eyes of these animated images will be keyed to an infrared camera that enables the images eyes to follow the user around the room by detecting body heat. The projected images will be derived from the street poster images but, in this case the images will be first seen without depictions of abuse.
As the user moves around the installation interior, he or she will trigger a frenzied simulation of spitting at the projected images by stepping into hot spot areas . As the spit appears to hit the head's faces, the faces themselves will react and begin to counter the abuse applied to them by playing video recordings prepared for the installation's data bank during the process of consultation with local community groups prior to the show. The recordings will appear in the projected images as mouths moving within the mouth area of the image's mask with an appropriate spoken
In other words, the audience members are made to experience a situation in which they have forfeited their rights to their self-images as the cost of entering the work. Additionally, once in the work, they have no choice but to be caught up in a series of racial dichotomies and racial representations with which they are now contractully complicit.