Originally intended to part of a group show at Gray Area in June 2020, The House of Fears is a multimedia installation modeled after a carnival house of mirrors. The interior walls would have video displays and LED arrays with reflective surfaces overlaid on top of them. Cameras would be used to capture the viewers and show them on other sections of the installation that they cannot see from their current vantage point. Interface panels close to the camera(s) would have buttons on them for users to push and these would generate messages derived from social media that would be seen by the other viewers. The idea is to take the viewer on a little journey through the landscape of social media and how it affects and infects their thinking and viewing of other people.
It’s an exploration of how social media drives peoples’ emotions, thoughts, and fears. The physical construct of a maze, with reflective surfaces that project and reflect the other users inside the maze with superimposed messages about those users, is meant to show that the virtual constructed reality you are viewing on the screens does not match up with the consensual reality of the physical world.
Then everything changed in March 2020 and the world stopped.
We all took a collective step through the looking glass and shut the doors of our actual physical houses and confronted the worst of our fears – a sudden die off of a significant proportion (if not all) of our species. Humanity is being challenged in a way that our society is only partially able to comprehend or handle. We have the science, technology, and wealth to mitigate this situation. Indeed, parts of the world have been successful in minimizing the loss of life. But, as social media has infected our population with a type of madness, that madness is now leading us to darker and more fearful places during this pandemic.
Being constrained to your home is difficult even in the best of circumstances. It leaves us with few of the normal social outlets that even the most introverted of us need. But in these plague times, we can’t leave our houses without the dread of bringing back death. We can’t trust our leaders, who’s incompetent reign is so laughably unrealistic that it would be considered implausible if proposed as a movie plot. We can’t trust our news media and journalists, as any review of any news outlet will amply demonstrate. So now, we are trapped in our homes and our connection to the outside world is mediated through digital networks and social media.
It is that very social media, though, that distorts our perceptions of reality to such a degree that people are attacking cell phone towers believing that they cause corona virus. It tells them that hospital ships are part of nefarious plots, such as Q anon, so they carry out destructive missions against them. The story that thousands of dead don’t actually exist gets amplified and broadcast wider and wider to ever more accepting ears.