Power Game

Interactive video installation, 1998

Machtspiel / Power Game

The viewer stands opposite a projection of a map of the world. In the space there is a movable object, a symbolic scepter as a sign of power, which the viewer may carry as he/she moves around the space. If the viewer takes hold of the scepter, his/her position in the room is immediately detected by a video camera and shown on the map as a bright coloured point. As soon as the temporary "ruler" lingers in one of the virtual countries, video projections of soldiers, military parades and war scenes from that particular country appear on the walls to the right and left of the map of the world. Two buttons on the scepter give the viewer the power to influence the military development (video images) of the country in question. If the viewer presses the first button the video images run through a "shredder" and dissolve. If the viewer chooses the second button the process is reversed and the military images are multiplied and reassembled. (...)

Despite the playful aspects, my work is very much concerned with concepts of power, decision-making and its consequences. The "scepter-made" decision for or against military development has an immediate effect on the atmosphere in the space. The visitors in the space find themselves sandwiched between the large scale projections and at the mercy of the images. Due to the dimensions and the close proximity of the military scene the viewer becomes, as it were, part of what is happening on the screens. Every person in the room, including the „ruler are affected. It is not possible to distance yourself and remain passive from what is happening as it is when the same information is shown on television.