A participant watches the young woman speak. Her words fill the space behind her image. There is no more room. Her words disappear and begin again. The participant intervenes. The woman's image is gone, but her voice persists. The participant interrupts. The young woman is here again. She repeats herself, but what follows is new. Another intervention. Another repetition. Another path.
The young woman's stories are divided into over one hundred short moments. The order she tells them is determined randomly. Our desire to pull meaning from the whole interferes with an awareness that the pieces follow each other arbitrarily. The encounter both portrays and reproduces the uncertainty of memory. Her desire to find truth infects the participant's desire to comprehend. Where traditional media transform memory into nostalgia, we are discovering what interactive media will manufacture from our desire.
Boy can be exhibited as a one-on-one experience, displayed continuously as an installation, or screened for an audience. (Running time: 10+ minutes, 1994)
Macintosh CD-ROM, and Installation.
Boy is an experiment in constructing narrative where there was none before--both in terms of the editing techniques used, and in raising the awareness of the viewer who actively creates a story in their head as they participate. The piece arises from documentary techniques--the source material is an unscripted interview--but confronts both traditional non-fiction and fiction methods for building a narrative.
My intention was to attack the media viewers' tendency to attach meaning, emotional investment, and truth to the images they are presented with. The "truth" in Boy is entirely fabricated, not necessarily bearing any relation to the original story told by the interview subject, and further distorted by the editing, and the interventions of the active participant. It is an attempt to unmask the processes of identification in media whereby the participant wants to believe what they are seeing, but is confronted by doubt. The piece both depicts and recreates the uncertainty of memory that is its subject matter. Nothing is solid, and truth is only found in belief, not evidence.
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