[Help Me Know the Truth]


interactive software, tablets, monitors, projector

[help me know the truth] is a participatory artwork in which visitors become part of the work across the exhibition. Participants first snap a digital portrait at a small photo booth at the entrance to the show, and their images are used in the work. In the gallery, participants can choose between two slightly altered portraits to match the text label shown on digital devices. By selecting slight variations of the images over time, differing facial features emerge that reveal larger unconscious beliefs about facial features or tendencies related to culture and identity. The project uses a process called “reverse correlation” from computational neuroscience to capture these beliefs.

That gallery visitors are constantly judging the people around them (the selfies are distributed immediately around the gallery) and that other people in the gallery are judging them is a key part of the experience of the work.

The intent behind the work is to both utilize and question how computational neuroscience techniques can uncover the categorizing systems of the mind, and how they are therefore subject to socially constructed fears and values. The work further calls into question notions of truth. Is neuroscience truly the best way to parse the complex interplay of thoughts, feelings, and beliefs of a person? Do we trust computers to categorize our appearances?


Hyundai Motorstudio Beijing October 2018 – February 2019

Ars Electronica Cyberarts Prix Exhibition, Error: The Art of Imperfection, Linz Austria at the OK Center for Contemporary Art (OK im OÖ Kulturquartier) September 2018

Art|Sci Gallery UCLA, March 2018

Monsters of the Machine exhibition, 18 November 2016 – August 2017 Laboral Art Center Asturias Spain



helpMeKnowTheTruth from mary flanagan on Vimeo.

Thanks to: 

Jared Segal, Ron Dotsch whose reverse correlation software was adapted for this project, Danielle Taylor, and Sukie Punjasthitkul

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