[help me know the truth]

Mary Flanagan (US)

Interactive Art+


(…) valued the use of neuroscientific software that allows the users to experience — through the interaction with the system — the weak plot of diffuse values that are barely sustainable to help us know the truth.” (Jury Statement)


[help me know the truth] is a software-controlled participatory work of art. First, the visitor takes a digital self-portrait in the exhibition space. Using the tools of the cognitive neurosciences, the face is then manipulated with noise patterns to, in the truest sense of the word, construct the perfect stereotype through time and the visitor’s input.

The visitor is asked to choose between two slightly different portraits that correspond to a text on display. Through the selection of slight variations of the image over time, various facial features emerge from otherwise random patterns. Visitors are asked to apply certain criteria to choosing the corresponding face, such as “Pick the victim”; “Which one is the ringleader?”; or “Choose the terrorist”, also deciding on which face looks the most angelic, the friendliest, and the most like a wrongdoer.

[help me know the truth]/Mary Flanagan (US), Credit: Mary Flanagan


[help me know the truth] / Mary Flanagan (US), Credit: tom mesic

The artist’s intention is to question how computer techniques can uncover the categorizing systems of consciousness and how software itself is thus subject to socially constructed fears and values.