Artist: Emily Kuehn       Made with Director

Hysterical is an emotional satire in which viewers can affect changes in a video by making sounds into a microphone.   The video portrays the artist engaged in a mock crying performance.   The louder the volume, the more hysterical the performer becomes. On screen, the woman stands in front of a curtain that references traditional performance spaces.   However, the image looks decidedly homemade. The video image is fairly small--filling only about a third of the screen.   To the right of the image are bars that move up and down corresponding to input volume, similar to those you might see on a stereo system, or on a Quicktime player.   Under the image a row of numbers are displayed which are the digital representation of the sound level the computer reads from the microphone

The work acts as a very limited kind of call and response.   Although the viewer may input a variety of emotions, the piece always responds within a limited emotional range, from fairly upset to extremely upset.   Interaction with the work thus creates an absurd and amusing performance between the viewer and the screen.   By emphasizing viewer interaction, Hysterical addresses several topics including the traditional conception of the gallery environment, control, and suffering.

The gallery is traditionally conceived of as a place to enjoy artwork passively and anonymously.   Hysterical questions these conventions by activating the viewer.   But more importantly, Hysterical forces her to draw attention to herself by making noise. In order to increase the suffering of the figure on the screen she must proportionally violate social conventions.   Thus, the lines between exercising control and effecting suffering become blurred.  

Hysterical runs on a computer, and is displayed on a monitor.   It is built in Macromedia Director.   It uses a microphone to collect sound data, and depending on the audio capabilities of the computer it is shown on, it may also require an USB audio adapter.

   All artwork copyright 2006, SAIC, Art Institute of Chicago site design by Seth Hunter