!watching

An interactive video installation which interrogates position, power, pleasure, and visibility.

!watching (pronounced "not-watching") is an interactive video installation which interrogates position, power, pleasure, and visibility inspired by the works of Manet, Titian, and fashion photographer Guy Bourdin. Three models – one in an evening gown, two dressed as housekeepers – engage in a power exchange. Each one becomes Venus while serviced by the others, the current Venus signified by the crown of red high heels lovingly placed on her feet. Audience members typically encounter the system as a montage of decisive moments of this scene. At key moments during this montage, the presentation transitions from still images to video then back. The first of such moments is when one of the models rise to perform a victory lap. The second is when, based on the whims of the system itself, the location of faces of audience members is determined by camera using face detection software and all the models stare at whoever is at that location. The models in the scene may continue to stare at anyone in the audience for an indefinite time.

!watching premiered at Slingshot Festival 2014 in the foyer of the Morton Theater. One of the first, and the oldest surviving African-American built, owned, and operated vaudeville theatres in the United States, the Morton Theatre opened in 1910 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.